Who are the favorites for the 2022 world title?

Gregg Berhalter has praised his young USA side and while he was “bitterly disappointed” that they were eliminated from the World Cup, he believes progress has been made.

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The USA lost 3-1 to the Netherlands in the round of 16 when Christian Pulisic missed a great early chance and the Dutch made the Americans pay with fine goals from Memphis Depay, Daley Blind and Denzel Dumfries.

In the end, the Dutch had a bit more quality and experience, but young USA impressed to get through to the knockout rounds and, looking ahead to the 2026 World Cup, a large chunk of that starting XI will likely start at the next World Cup too.

That’s very positive, but it doesn’t mean that this defeat doesn’t hurt now.

Pride and progress are the keywords for Berhalter

“It’s difficult to manage,” Berhalter said. “It’s such a good group of guys, it’s such a tight group of guys and we came up short today but not for lack of try, not for lack of effort. The lads put everything they had into this game and unfortunately we lost it.”

They really did.

The USMNT had plenty of possession and created chances, but they just couldn’t pull all of those promises together in the last third when it counted. And that was the story of their World Cup.

Nevertheless, Berhalter and his young team can be proud because they exceeded expectations.

“Really proud. When you think about how this group has come together over the past three and a half years, it’s really quite special to see. You don’t often have such a bond between teammates, employees and everyone,” said Berhalter. “I’m really proud of this group, but bitterly disappointed with the result today.”

Berhalter also pointed out that USA doesn’t have a star forward, giving special praise to Memphis Depay.

What now?

There is much debate as to whether Gregg Berhalter is the right man to lead this very talented and very young US team to the 2026 World Cup on home soil.

A lot can happen before then, but it seems the performances at this World Cup probably got him a few more years to see how this side develops and if they can get a few clinical finishers to step up and close chances .

“We’ve made some progress,” Berhalter said. “When people look at our team, they see a clear identity, they see guys going out there and fighting for each other. You see talent on the field. We made progress but we fell short on this particular night.”

When the dust settles over that loss to the Netherlands, the 2022 World Cup will be viewed positively by US fans.

The most important thing, however, is what happens next. If the core of this team manages to maintain its intensity and solidity but stay fresh in attack and stay true to its principles, they can go far in 2026.

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