Former USMNT manager Bruce Arena has claimed that any suggestion of World Cup glory for the team in the near future is ‘stupid talk’.
Arena was in charge of the team for October 2017’s 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago which ended their hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup and is widely seen as one of the most humiliating results in the country’s history.
Now under the watchful eye of Gregg Berhalter, the USMNT have settled down somewhat and excitement is growing around a team which features global superstars like Chelsea‘s Christian Pulisic, Juventus‘ Weston McKennie and Barcelona‘s Sergino Dest, but Arena has laughed off the idea that the team will be competitive in 2022.
“That’s stupid talk. You’re talking about winning a World Cup now?” Arena told Extratime. “We didn’t qualify [in 2018] and now we’re going to win the World Cup?
“I do think the way the sport has grown in our country, the young players we have that when we play at home in 2026 – and hopefully we have a good draw and all that – that the US will have a very competitive team in 2026.
“The goal in the short term should be to qualify for the next World Cup.”
While there may still be work to do for the US, there is real optimism surrounding the group of young players who are now starting to make a real impact on the global scene.
The Bundesliga has seen youngsters like Gio Reyna, Chris Richards and Tyler Adams excel for Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig respectively, while the likes of Roma’s Bryan Reynolds and Barcelona’s Konrad de la Fuente are on the cusp of breakthroughs themselves.
There is a bright future for the USMNT, and Arena added that Berhalter looks like the right man to keep the momentum going.
“I saw that he was very serious and focused and asked a lot of questions. He continues to probe,” Arena said. “Gregg continued to be a student of the game. He still doesn’t have that much experience, so he’s still trying to grasp who he is a coach, I think.
“From what I see at a distance, he’s still influenced by a lot of stuff he got in coaching school, but he’s going to work his tail off. He has a really high opinion on the value of sports performance metrics, analytics, all of that. So I think that’s the direction he goes as a coach now.”