I still think the USMNT are going to reach the knockout stages, probably needing a win over Iran on the final matchday (Nov. 29) and hoping for a point against England on Black Friday. But it’s also clear this team, in this cycle, didn’t have enough experiences against quality international teams to be fully ready for a World Cup. That’s mainly because of the pandemic, so it’s hard to toss blame, but it’s also a fact we played a bunch of Concacaf games that were way too easy. You need those top-tier teams that really challenge you.
And the England game is shaping up as a real test, after they beat Iran 6-2 and sent goal differential/goals scored in their favour. The question is are we grown-ups and do we understand this is one where we’re an underdog and we have to play smart, we have to play defensively, play a little bit differently than we talk about how we should play.
Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves just yet, though. Here’s how I thought, person by person, the USMNT fared Monday against the Welsh. I’m using the following grading scale: