It’s been four years since a World Cup was held, but eight years since a U.S. squad competed in the world’s most popular sporting event.
Given that, it’s probably easy for observers who plan to watch the World Cup — but didn’t follow the U.S. team much through qualifying — to wonder which players the U.S. will most rely on.
Well, we’re here to help!
While the key contributors aren’t limited to these five, going into the USMNT’s first game against Wales on Monday, here are the players most likely to carry the American side.
A member of the USMNT since he was 17, Pulisic has been the face of U.S. soccer, although the most vivid image of that face was when it was in tears after the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup following a loss to Trinidad and Tobago in the last game of qualifying in 2017.
Still young at age 24, Pulisic will prepare for his first World Cup as the most dangerous striker for the Americans. A member of Chelsea in the English Premier League, Pulisic became the first American to play in a Champions League final in 2021.
However, Pulisic seemed to be out of sorts for most of the qualifying games, and will need to be in top form for an American team that’s usually starved for scoring.
While Pulisic might be the face of American soccer at the moment, there probably isn’t a more vital player to the U.S. than McKennie.
He plays his club soccer for Juventus in Italy, and throughout qualifying games, showed he can be a dominant player in the midfield.
The 24-year old McKennie can distribute to teammates, score off set pieces and frustrate opposing players trying to attack.
Playing on a world stage could really be a coming out party for McKennie.
Besides McKennie, this might be the player the U.S. can least afford to lose.
The 23-year-old Adams, who plays for Leeds in the English Premier League, is a rock as a defensive midfielder.
He not only organizes the backline, but he starts counterattacks with his vision and passing ability. If he goes down, there’s no suitable replacement for his position.
Reyna is possibly “Pulisic II,” given he is a dynamic young forward with tantalizing ability and plays for an elite club team in Europe, Borussia Dortmund in Germany.
The only problem for the 19-year-old has been avoiding injuries. He missed much of his club season last year and a majority of qualifying games for the U.S. as a result.
Fortunately for the Americans, Reyna appears to be healthy and in good form leading up to the tournament.
This will likely be the man in goal for the Americans.
The 28-year-old Turner plays for Arsenal in the English Premier League and has emerged over the past year as the keeper head coach Gregg Berhalter can trust the most.
He’s a steadying presence who’ll have to come up big when the Americans are on their heels against opposing attacks.