American soccer fans have a good reason to be excited as the U.S., Mexico, and Canada are all but guaranteed to host the 2026 World Cup. Inspired by an mlssoccer.com article about which MLS players will star at the 2026 World Cup, I took a shot at predicting the United Men’s National Team’s starting lineup for the 2026 World Cup.
Obviously with the event nine years away, and two World Cups before it, this lineup is unlikely to be the one taking the field in 2026. Countless new prospects will emerge and many national team players will retire. Here’s my best guess anyway at the U.S. team that will take the field in the first game of the 2026 World Cup.
GK: Ethan Horvath
Horvath cements his place as the USMNT #1 after his once-finely-coiffed blonde hair is all but gone. He is in the prime of his career and helping Stoke City to consistently avoid relegation from the Premier League. While yet to reach the legendary status of some previous U.S. keepers, his solid shot-stopping has established him as the second best goalkeeper in CONCACAF.
LB: Marco Farfan
The former Portland Timbers left back is now a star for reigning CONCACAF Champions League winners Club Tijuana. After establishing himself as the best American left back in MLS and a solid performance in the 2022 World Cup, Farfan headed south of the border.
CB: Cameron Carter-Vickers
The center back has guided Tottenham to the Champions League quarterfinals in both 2025 and 2026. The club now consistently finishes fourth at the expense of rivals Arsenal who have finished fifth for the past seven years. The physical center-back guided the U.S. to first place in CONCACAF 2026 World Cup Qualifying and it’s second ever shutout at Azteca.
CB: Erik Palmer-Brown
After struggling to break through at Sporting Kansas City, Palmer-Brown was traded to the LA Galaxy in 2019. He helped the team win the CONCACAF Champions League in 2021 before joining FC Schalke in 2023. Palmer-Brown has been upset with Schalke’s lack of ambition and is hoping a solid World Cup showing will result in a transfer to La Liga or the Premier League.
RB: Matthew Olosunde
The right back is part of a dominant Manchester United defense that lead the Premier League in shutouts for the 2024-2025 and 2025-2026 seasons. Olosunde is one of the best right backs in the Premier League. His communication with Christian Pulisic will be key to preventing the U.S. right flank from being exposed.
CM: Tyler Adams
After becoming the New York Red Bulls’ youngest captain and leading the club to two MLS Cup Finals appearances in four years, Adams joined Red Bull Leipzig. He helped Leipzig win its first ever Bundesliga title in 2022 and ended Bayern Munich’s run of ten consecutive titles. Rumors have linked him with Chelsea and a good World Cup performance will likely seal this move.
CM: Kellyn Acosta
Acosta and his midfield partner Adams are the two greatest defensive midfielders MLS has ever seen. Acosta led Dallas to a heartbreaking CONCACAF Champions League final in 2020 and scored the only goal in the team’s 2-1 defeat to Club America. After a dominant performance for the U.S. in the 2021 Gold Cup he moved to Hoffenheim.
AM: Andrew Carleton
Carleton has answered USMNT fans’ prayers for a true #10 and his combination play with Pulisic gives the U.S. one of the deadliest midfields in the world. After leading Atlanta United in assists for three years in a row he headed to Ajax. There he thrived, and was consistently one of the most dominant players in the Europa League. He moved to PSG after the 2021 Gold Cup. U.S. manager Jose Mourinho has said he wants Carleton to start being more selfish and find the back of the net with greater frequency.
RM (Captain): Christian Pulisic
Pulisc is on pace to become the USMNT’s all-time assist leader and is starring for Real Madrid. In 2019 he became hated by Borussia Dortmund fans as he left the club for Bayern Munich. Pulisic excelled with Munich and later sealed a dream move to Real Madrid after 3 goals and 3 assists in the 2022 World Cup. Pulisic is expected to be in contention for the 2026 World Cup Golden Ball.
LM: Josh Perez
Perez established himself as a starter for Fiorentina after a few frustrating years on loan in Serie B. He had a breakout performance in the 2023 Gold Cup where he won the Golden Ball. In 2024, he moved to Juventus and is now considered one of the top wingers in Serie A. Unfortunately, Perez and Juventus struggle to compete with free-spending AC Milan.
ST: Josh Sargent
USMNT fans are divided over whether Sargent should start over veteran Bobby Wood. After becoming the youngest MLS Golden Boot winner with Sporting Kansas City, he headed to Spain where he has been inconsistent for Villarreal. Injuries have made things difficult for him, but he heads into the World Cup scoring four goals in his last six La Liga matches.
Manager: Jose Mourinho
After failing to win the Premier League with Manchester United and burning all his bridges in Europe, Mourinho is left with few options. He reluctantly becomes the U.S. coach, but publicly insists that it was always his dream job. Pep Guardiola gets hired by Mexico, making the U.S.-Mexico rivalry even more intense.
Bench: Zack Steffen, Matt Miazga, Tommy Redding, DeAndre Yedlin, Greg Garza, Weston McKennie, Chris Durkin, Emerson Hyndman, Lynden Gooch, Paul Arriola, Haji Wright, Bobby Wood