It’s the final day of 2021, which was a wild year for soccer and for the world. We’re still in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to affect the game and the world. Still, we saw a year full of soccer...so full, it was hard at times to keep up!
When we made our 2021 predictions, we were very much in a world where we hoped things would eventually get back to normal, but we weren’t sure what that normal would look like. And, the USMNT were able to get almost every competition completed, which is an incredible feat given where the world was 12 months ago.
So, let’s go through our predictions and see where we were rightabout the USMNT and where we completely got it wrong.
Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic, and Tyler Adams appear on the field together for the start of World Cup qualifying.
This could have happened at the start of World Cup qualifying had Christian Pulisic not been held out of the opening qualifier against El Salvador while he continued to get his fitness back up to par after an injury. Then, Weston McKennie was suspended for the next two qualifiers and then Pulisic was hurt against Honduras and missed the October window. It wasn’t until the Mexico match on November 12th where we saw this trio in the starting lineup together for the first time...and of course, Pulisic and McKennie both scored in that match for the 2-0 victory.
The U-23s qualify for the Olympics.
Complete disaster. The USMNT U-23s crashed out of Olympic qualifying in the semifinals with a 2-1 loss to Honduras, marking the 3rd consecutive time the U-23s failed to qualify for the Olympics.
The USMNT will have one match postponed due to COVID-19, but World Cup qualifying will start on time.
This one was partly right, in a good way. The USMNT did not have any matches postponed due to Covid, but they did play few road matches behind closed doors in an effort to ensure they would get the matches completed. World Cup qualifying did begin on time, despite some early round postponements and neutral sites due to Covid, and the USMNT was able to begin the Octagon on time.
Despite a loss, the USMNT are in 1st place in World Cup qualifying at the end of the year.
The USMNT have only lost 1 match so far in World Cup qualifying, on the road to Panama, and are currently in 2nd place in the Octagon. They sit 1 point behind Canada for the top spot, making the January 30th match in Hamilton between the two teams very important to see who will have the top spot in the standings.
The USMNT will win the Nations League but lose the Gold Cup.
This one, we’re happy to be partially wrong. The USMNT ended up winning both the Nations League and the Gold Cup, winning both in epic fashion over Mexico after extra time. The Nations League Final was one of the best matches in the history of the USA-Mexico rivalry, while the Gold Cup Final had the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas and one of the most dramatic finishes in Gold Cup history with a Miles Robinson header in the 117th minute to win it for the USMNT.
Yunus Musah and Nicholas Gioacchini commit to the United States.
Both Yunus Musah and Nicholas Gioacchini did eventually commit to the USMNT, with Musah starting several World Cup qualifiers and Gioacchini appearing in 5 of 6 Gold Cup matches for the USA.
10 uncapped players make their debut for the USMNT.
19 players got their first cap in 2021, with Matt Turner (13 caps); Jordan Pefok, Gianluca Busio, and Daryl Dike (8 each); and Ricardo Pepi and James Sands (7 each) earning the most.
The USMNT will beat a Top 20 team that’s not Mexico.
The USMNT only played one team in the Top 20 that’s not named Mexico. That match was a 2-1 loss to Switzerland back in May. However, they did beat Mexico 3 times in 2021, the first time since 1937 that either team has beaten the other 3 times in a calendar year.
The USMNT will end the year ranked 15th.
The USMNT began the year ranked 22nd in the FIFA World Rankings. They will enter 2022 ranked 11th in the world. That’s a huge boost for the USMNT, who have an outside chance to gain enough points to potentially be seeded should they qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
There it is...so long, 2021 is history. Hopefully 2022 will continue to improve. In the meantime, hit the comments to discuss some of the 2021 predictions that came true and those that fell flat.