Think back to what the U.S. men's national team looked like just after the 2018 World Cup. Players like Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams were still total newcomers to the senior team. Tim Weah had just earned his first cap. Yunus Musah? No American fan had ever heard of him.
The point is that much can change in a few short years, especially for a national team. And that's what makes predicting how the USMNT will look like in 2026 so hard.
But that's the nature of this business: projecting what's next. The USMNT's 2022 World Cup is officially over and, from the moment the final whistle blew against the Netherlands, the focus began to shift towards 2026.
We know some players that should be there. The USMNT is a young team, after all, one loaded with stars that might not even be in their prime even in 2026. In all likelihood, there will be plenty of familiar faces in that squad with World Cup experience from their time in Qatar.
But there will surely be some surprises. There are more Musahs out there just waiting to be found, more Tim Reams waiting for their career resurgence to catapult them toward 2026.
With that in mind, GOAL takes a look at what the U.S. XI could look like on home soil in three-and-a-half years: