The battle to qualify

Kaylee Donnelly, Contributing Writer

Exciting matches have been taking place as several World Cup qualifiers have kicked off in the past few weeks. Highly anticipated teams like Argentina, Brazil and the United States have all had important games on the road to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The U.S. men’s soccer team started rough in the final round of the 2022 qualifiers, suffering a surprising loss to Panama in the first match. They currently sit in second place in the standings after their fifth match of the 14 they will play in these qualifiers. 

The men’s team then earned a strong win this past Friday, defeating Mexico 2-0. Arguably one of their best games in a while, this victory had put the team in a solid place for this upcoming World Cup. It’s only the fifth time in 20 years that the men have beaten Mexico in qualifiers, interestingly enough all of these victories have taken place in the state of Ohio. This match also put the United States at the top of the standings, a successful gain in qualifying.

Their most recent game occurred against Jamaica, in which the men produced a nail-biting 1-1 tie. The team did not play to their strengths as they did against Mexico, struggling to move the ball as seamlessly. The game went down to the wire, only producing more stress when a goal scored by Jamaica in the 84th minute was called off by the referee for a foul. 

Despite getting a point out of the match, a tie meant that the United States lost their spot at the top to Canada, who beat Mexico 2-1. The men now have 15 points, only one ahead of Mexico and Panama and one behind Canada. 

Their performance is highly anticipated going into 2022. The U.S. men’s soccer team has historically struggled on the international stage, sometimes even grappling to get past qualifiers. Last World Cup, the men failed to qualify for the tournament.

The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the usual process of qualifying. The schedule has been compressed from 18 months to seven, forcing teams to play matches in closer succession, as shown by the United States playing weekly. The World Cup takes place in Qatar in 2022 from Nov. 21 to Dec. 18. 

The United States team gets a long break before their next round of matches. They next play Bosnia and Herzegovina on Dec. 18, at the Dignity Health Tennis Center in Los Angeles. The country will be watching in hopes that this year the men are able to step up and represent the nation.

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