On Wednesday, the United States men’s national team officially qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, though it came after a poor 2-0 loss at Costa Rica, the result cemented a top-three spot in the Concacaf table. After drawing at Mexico on Thursday, the U.S. followed that up in Orlando with a 5-1 win over Panama, meaning that Tuesday’s final match at Costa Rica was essentially immaterial since Gregg Berhalter’s team would finish in the top three in the standings as long as they lost by less than six goals. As it turned out, the U.S. actually could have lost by three more goals and still qualified for the tournament.
It’s a monumental day for the team after missing out on the 2018 World Cup, with four years of agony and uncertainty. But Berhalter, trusting some of the young top talent in the system, got it done with an impressive display during the qualifying cycle, though it wasn’t without a few hiccups and an inconsistent display to end it. But when it mattered most, the team delivered and can now make plans for the World Cup, which is set to start in November. Had the U.S. not gotten that draw at Mexico to start this month’s matches, they’d be looking at the inter-confederation playoffs.