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USMNT Kicks Off 2022 FIFA World Cup Against Wales on Monday, Nov. 21

The U.S. Men’s National Team will kick off the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on Monday, Nov. 21 against Wales. Returning to the world stage for the first time in eight years, the USA was drawn alongside Wales, England and IR Iran in Group B.  

Kickoff for USA-Wales from Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar is set for 2 p.m. ET on Fox and Telemundo. 

Twenty-five of 26 USMNT players have the opportunity to make their World Cup debuts. The remarkably youthful U.S. roster is the second youngest in Qatar, but is packed with potential — 14 of 26 players compete in the world’s top five leagues. 
 
Contesting its first World Cup since 1958, Wales is in the midst of perhaps its greatest era of international success after qualifying for its first two UEFA European Championships in 2016 and 2020, finishing third at the 2016 tournament.  

RETURN TO THE WORLD STAGE 

Playing in its 11th FIFA World Cup and eighth of the last nine, the USMNT will go up against the tournament’s strongest overall group in Qatar. Drawn into Group B alongside Wales, England and IR Iran, the four nations hold an average rank of 15. 

The 2022 World Cup, the first to be held in the Middle East, features 32 nations divided into eight groups of four teams and will be the last tournament played with the 32-team format. After group play from Nov. 21-29, the top two finishers in each group will advance to the knockout stage of the competition from Dec. 3-18. All 64 matches of the tournament will be played in eight state-of-the-art stadiums in Qatar, with all venues within an hour drive of the capital of Doha. 
 
YOUNG AMERICANS 
The USMNT was by far the youngest team to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, garnering valuable experience going through the rigors of World Cup qualifying. Through 14 qualifiers, the USA Starting XI came in at an average of 23.82, almost two years younger than the next closest team, Ghana at 25.67. Together, the other 31 participating teams averaged a Starting XI age of 27.5 through qualifying, nearly four full years older than the U.S. 

From the available data for qualified teams, the USMNT played 10 of the 11 youngest lineups worldwide during the recently concluded qualifying cycle, with all 14 lineups falling in the 23 youngest Starting XIs in the world dating back to October 2020. After its successful qualifying campaign, each match is another opportunity for the young USMNT player pool to gain experience against top-flight competition.  

The 2022 team ties the 1990 USA side for most U-23 players on a USMNT World Cup roster with nine: Tyler Adams (23); Brenden Aaronson, Sergiño Dest, Josh Sargent and Tim Weah (22); Jesús Ferreira (21); Yunus Musah, Gio Reyna and Joe Scally (19).  

With the inclusion of Musah, Reyna and Scally, this is the first USMNT World Cup squad with more than one teenager on the roster, though Gio Reyna turned 20 on Nov. 12 and Yunus Musah will do so on Nov. 29, the day of the USA’s final group stage match against Iran. 

HIGHEST LEVEL FOR CLUB & COUNTRY 

While 25 players will seek to make their World Cup debuts in Qatar, the USMNT roster is no stranger to some of soccer’s biggest stages at the club level. Five of 26 players are participating in this year’s UEFA Champions League, the sport’s premier club competition, while 14 play for teams in the world’s top five leagues (England, Germany, Spain, Italy and France). 

This USMNT World Cup roster boasts perhaps the most impressive list of club homes ever at the tournament, with players at some of Europe’s most storied clubs. Forward Christian Pulisic helped Chelsea win the UEFA Champions League in 2020-21, becoming the first American to play in the UCL Final. Defender Sergiño Dest moved this season to reigning Italian champion AC Milan, while goalkeeper Matt Turner is plying his trade for English Premier League leader Arsenal. Midfielder Weston McKennie’s club Juventus won the Italian league championship nine times in a row from 2011-12 through 2019-20. 
 
ONLY FORWARD 

The USMNT’s World Cup squad reflects the success of the U.S. Soccer player development pathway, as many of the players came up through the U.S. Youth National Teams program and spent time in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy and/or the U.S. Soccer U-17 Residency Program. 

Fourteen players – just over half the roster – have represented the USA in at least one FIFA Youth World Cup. Four took the field together at two separate tournaments: Tyler Adams, Luca de la Torre Christian Pulisic and Haji Wright at the 2015 U-17 World Cup in Chile, and Adams, Cameron Carter-Vickers, de la Torre and Josh Sargent at the 2017 U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic. 

Seventeen of 26 played in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, run by the Federation as the nation’s highest level of youth soccer from 2007-2020 to maximize youth player development by positively impacting everyday club environments. Seven players participated in the Residency Program, an elite training environment for the country’s best youth players at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. From 1999-2017. 
 
ROAD TESTED 

Despite the youth of the USMNT player pool, the U.S. squad earned their stripes during Concacaf’s rigorous 14-game World Cup qualification campaign, the Octagonal. A record-tying 29 players made their first WCQ appearance this cycle in the challenging conditions of Concacaf. 

Since qualifying for the World Cup in March, the USMNT has used its four open friendly match dates to challenge itself against fellow tournament participants, lining up opponents from Asia, Africa and South America. The USA topped Morocco 3-0 and battled South American power Uruguay to a scoreless draw in June, before falling 2-0 to Japan and tying Saudi Arabia 0-0 during the team’s final prep matches in September. 
 
BY THE NUMBERS 
With the USA’s World Cup roster officially submitted, a new class will join the illustrious ranks of players to represent the United States on the sport’s biggest stage. With the assignment of jersey numbers, the current USMNT joins the legacy of players to take the field for their country at the USA’s previous 10 World Cup appearances. Goalkeeper Matt Turner joins a proud lineage of U.S. goalkeepers to wear No. 1 from the state of New Jersey, following Tony Meola, Brad Friedel and Tim Howard. Forward Christian Pulisic will wear the hallowed No. 10 shirt like playmakers Tab Ramos, Claudio Reyna and Landon Donovan before him.  
 
BE THE CHANGE 
Following the death of George Floyd in May 2020 and continuing growth of the important Black Lives Matter movement, the members of the U.S. Men’s National Team were inspired to develop their own mission statement to send and spread a meaningful message. From a diverse and united group, a call to action emerged: Be the Change.  

 
The spirit of our message is that each and every person has the ability, opportunity and responsibility to make a difference in their own way. The motto has been brought to life in a number of different ways. Last June, the USMNT advocated for stricter gun control with armbands and an imploring letter to Congress to pass legislation.  
 
Now, with the eyes of the world on the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the USMNT and U.S. Soccer will continue to elevate and advance the Be the Change message, inviting everyone on the journey to make a positive and lasting impact.  

SPECIAL GUESTS 

As the USMNT prepares to kick off the World Cup in Qatar, the team has welcomed some special guests to its “home away from home” – Al Gharafa Stadium, serving as the U.S. training facility for the month. On Tuesday night, eight players and two coaches hosted 20 migrant workers who helped build the infrastructure behind the World Cup for some fun on the field, playing small-sided games and taking part in a penalty kick shootout alongside the USMNT. Afterwards, the U.S. contingent signed autographs and took photos with workers to thank them for their efforts to make the tournament happen.  

 
To show their appreciation for all those serving the United States in Qatar, head coach Gregg Berhalter and the USMNT invited servicemen and women, embassy staff and their families to attend practice on Wednesday. Nearly 1,000 U.S. citizens from Camp As Saliyah, Al Udeid Airbase and the U.S. Embassy in Doha came to Al Gharafa Stadium for exclusive access to the session and post-training autographs and photos.  
 
The son of a U.S. serviceman, Weston McKennie addressed the crowd before practice. Sixteen years ago, McKennie met USMNT legends Carlos Bocanegra and Landon Donovan when the team visited Ramstein Air Base in Germany ahead of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Now, the Texan will compete on the global stage himself.  
 

For more information on the U.S. Soccer team fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here:

U.S. Soccer Official Website | USWNT & USMNT (ussoccer.com)

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