After qualifying for the World Cup Finals despite a 2-0 defeat to Costa Rica last week, the USMNT will have been watching on with interest as the draw for the eight groups at this winter’s World Cup Finals in Qatar was made on Friday.
In the end, Greg Berhalter’s team were drawn into Group B alongside England, Iran and another European Qualifier, which is going to be either Wales, Scotland or Ukraine.
So, what does that mean for the USMNT? Do they have a realistic chance of progressing from the group stage and bettering their quarter finals defeat in 2002?
Before we examine the USMNT chances, let’s first recap the draw for the World Cup Finals, together with the latest odds from BetMGM Sportsbook on each team’s chances of winning the tournament.
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World Cup Finals Draw
Group A – Qatar (+10000), Ecuador (+15000), Senegal (+6600), Netherland (+1100)
Group B – England (+550), United States (+8000), Iran (+25000), Scotland (+25000)/Wales (+15000) or Ukraine (+15000)
Group C – Argentina (+900), Saudi Arabia (+25000), Mexico (+10000), Poland (+10000)
Group D – France (+550), Denmark (+2200), Tunisia (+35000), Australia (+30000)/UAE (+35000) or Peru (+20000)
Group E – Spain (+800), Germany (+1000), Japan (), Costa Rica (+75000) or New Zealand (+75000)
Group F – Belgium (+1100), Canada (+20000), Morocco (+25000), Croatia (+4000)
Group G – Brazil (+500), Serbia (+8000), Switzerland (+8000), Cameroon (+15000)
Group H – Portugal (+1200), Ghana (+15000), Uruguay (+3300), South Korea (+25000)
BetMGM have Brazil as the +500 favorites to win the tournament ahead of France and England (both +550), Spain (+800), Argentina (+900), Germany (+1000) with the Belgium and Netherlands at (+1100).
Analysing Group B For USMNT Fans
Looking at the draw as a whole, the USMNT management team will probably be pleased with how the draw turned out. Other than drawing hosts Qatar ahead of England, the draw could not have gone much better for the US team.
Although the United States have drawn England, it is worth remembering that in any
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – MARCH 24: Hector Herrera (L) of Mexico fights for the ball with Giovanni Reyna (R) of United States during the match between Mexico and The United States as part of the Concacaf 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers at Azteca Stadium on March 24, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images)
competition, rather than an international friendly game, the United States team have never lost to the Three Lions.
They beat England 1-0 in one of the great World Cup shocks back in 1950, then they defeated Graham Taylor’s England at the US Cup in 1993 by a 2-0 scoreline and then at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the United States team earned a 1-1 draw against England.
That kind of record will certainly play on England’s mind ahead of their group stage game, but it is also worth knowing that the United States team have lost all the other eight games against England, including the most recent, a 3-0 defeat at Wembley in November 2018.
However, the US have a slightly poorer record when it comes to the Pot 3 team, Iran. At a politically charged game at the 1998 World Cup Finals in France, Iran defeated the United States 2-1, eliminating them from the tournament.
They have played just one game since, two years later when the team’s drew 1-1 in a match between the two in Los Angeles.
Wales or Scotland/Ukraine
The third team in the group will come from the remaining European Playoff place and will be
ORLANDO, FL – MARCH 27: Christian Pulisic #10 of the United States celebrates scoring with Jesus Ferreira #20 during a FIFA World Cup qualifier game between Panama and USMNT at Exploria Stadium on March 27, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
decided by two matches. First, Scotland face the Ukraine in Glasgow with the winner of that game progressing to the final playoff match to face Wales in Cardiff.
In head to head games, the United States have played Wales twice, winning once 2-0 in 2003 and drawing the most recent game 0-0 in Wales in 2020.
Against Scotland, the US have a very good recent record, after losing their opening three games against the Scots, the United States team have not been beaten in the next five, winning two and drawing three, with the biggest win being a 5-1 victory over Scotland in May 2012.
The team the USMNT will want to avoid is Ukraine, as in four games the United States have managed just one draw, losing the other three games, two of which came in matches in the U.S.
It is likely that England will win the group, but the United States have a very good chance of picking up the second place spot and a place in the last 16.
Much depends on who qualifies from Europe. If it is Wales or Scotland, the United States team will fancy their chances, but if it is Ukraine, that may well be a much tougher game for them, but one that they should be able to win.
The game with Iran will be very emotionally charged, but the US team is much stronger than Iran’s team on paper and should pick up three points here.
Two wins against Iran and any of Wales, Scotland and the Ukraine would see the USMNT qualify for the Round of 16 and that would be a good performance for the team.
Whether they would go much further is open to debate, they’d likely face the top team from Group A, which will probably be Netherlands, and that may be very tough against a very talented Dutch side.
But World Cup Finals are often full of shocks and with a good few months still to go, much can happen to improve the USMNT’s chances of success in Qatar this winter.