With all of the meaningful games behind us, let’s look back (complete with highlight videos) at some of the highs and lows over an eventful 2021 for Gregg Berhalter’s American squad.
With one game remaining in the 2021 calendar year, a relatively meaningless friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina in December, let’s take a look at the numbers and what they can show us.
The USMNT have had, what many would say, one of their best years statistically in a long time, if not ever. While the US still has an international friendly to play against 61st-ranked Bosnia and Herzegovina on December 18th in Carson, California, the meaningful results have come and gone for the squad. So let us look into that record.
Over the course of 2021, the USMNT have played 21 games, amassing a staggering 16 wins and three draws, only losing twice all year. Of course that win streak includes several major highlights in USMNT history, with winning two CONCACAF tournaments, both over fierce rivals Mexico. The CONCACAF Nations League final against Mexico was the start of an impressive USMNT run, as Ethan Horvath’s heroics in goal proved to be the difference.
Fast forward to the Gold Cup with Antonee Robinson scoring a dying-minute goal to beat Mexico 1-0 to win the tournament, and it proved to be an eventful summer. The USMNT competing in back to back championship games against the biggest measuring stick in CONCACAF, and coming away with two trophies is the highlight needed after the dismal years leading up to, and since missing out on the last World Cup. The string of wins saw the US jump to as high as 10th place in the FIFA World Rankings.
Since 2017, the USMNT fell all of the way down to 35th in the FIFA World Rankings, their lowest of all time. The fall provided, what many would say was a much needed refresh on playing personnel. Coach Gregg Berlhalter started 2021 in 22nd place, and steadily the performances increased that ranking. After the last set of games during the international break, the USMNT now sit in 12th place. The last time the US team had placed higher was in 2009, just before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Coach Berlhalter brought in a whopping total of 51 players throughout the 2021 calendar year, seeing the team score 45 goals in their 21 contests. There were 27 players that played in seven or more games, with those players being responsible for 33 of the 45 goals for the team. The highest scoring game of the year was the international friendly against Trinidad and Tabago, a 7-0 win on January 31st.
The team has only had two loses in the calendar year, and only one of those being in a competitive fixture. The first loss of the year came against currently ranked 13th team Switzerland, losing 2-1 in St. Gallen, Switzerland. With the game being an international friendly, there wasn’t much cause for panic. Compare that with the 1-0 loss on October 10th, away in Panama in World Cup Qualifying, and it was a night and day difference in response.
The latter loss sparked strong home performances with a 2-1 win against Costa Rica, followed by a convincing 2-0 win over Mexico. The final competitive game the squad played in 2021 was a dismal 1-1 draw away against Jamaica, but the general sentiment is the team is trending in the right direction.
Looking forward, who do you think deserves to be on the final roster in Qatar? Below is a list of the 27 players that have seven or more appearances so far in 2021. The most notable player not on the list is Ricardo Pepi, who has only played six games to date, although these have been over the last six World Cup qualifying games. You can view the full list here.