USMNT: A look ahead at the next few years

We are less than a week out from the USA’s final game of the 2014 World Cup. A trip to the Round of 16 will be viewed as a successful tournament for the team, in particular due to the ‘group of death’ that the US was placed in.

However, the loss to the Belgians in the Round of 16 may be viewed by many Americans as a game that the US could have won. A lucky bounce here or there may have seen the US move on to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2002. Alas, there was no such luck for theU.S. national soccer team players pose for a team photo before their international friendly soccer match against Azerbaijan in San Francisco team and US soccer fans are stuck wondering “what if?”.

World Cup 2014: The year that the US fell in love with the beautiful game?

Well, instead of worrying about the past (because as much as I try, I still cannot help Wondolowski score that sitter in the final minutes of regulation) I am looking forward to what lies ahead for the USMNT in the next couple years leading up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The schedule for the next four years’ tournaments looks like this:

  • July 2015 – CONCACAF Gold Cup — winner automatically qualifies for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.*Location: TBD
  • June 2016 – Copa America Centenario — tournament that will feature all of the best South American teams, along with six teams from CONCACAF. *Location: Hosted by the United States
  • August 2016 – Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games — qualification takes place during 2016. US will take this qualification seriously after failing to make it to the London Games. *Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Late 2016 – CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying — first stage of qualification before the Hexagonal. The US should have no troubles in this stage. *Location: Games played in respective countries throughout this qualification stage
  • Early 2017 – CONCACAF Hexagonal — World Cup qualification for the best six teams from the region. Top three teams automatically qualify, with a fourth place play-in game. *Location: Home sites of the six teams in the Hexagonal
  • June 2017 – Confederations Cup — takes place one year prior to the start of the 2014 World Cup. Only eight teams are invited, with a spot reserved for the Russian hosts and another for the 2014 World Cup winner. *Location: Russia
  • June 2018 – FIFA World Cup — Seems like a long way away, but we can be sure that this date is already on Klinsmann’s calendar. *Location: Russia

This long list of tournaments and qualifying games will provide many opportunities for the US to continue to build on the success of their 2014 World Cup performance. It is important for Klinsmann to toy with the roster as many of the veteran players from this World Cup meet the end of their international careers.

Klinsmann has promised to bring more and more young talent into the team. It will also be very important to continue recruiting the dual-nationals that factored so heavily into this World Cup squad. The future of US soccer will be determined by the new young players, many of which will be dual-nationals.