The U.S. men's national team's road to the 2026 World Cup effectively began the moment the final whistle blew at Khalifa International Stadium following the last-16 defeat to the Netherlands. Players were asked about it in the moments after: What that road would look like? Who would be a part of it? Who would lead the charge?
Much will change on that road, and predicting World Cup squads years in advance is almost impossible. Three years before the 2022 World Cup, for example, USMNT fans knew nothing of Yunus Musah. Matt Turner was barely a starter in 2019. Brenden Aaronson didn't even make his MLS debut until midway through that year. But here we are, predicting that road because it promises to be such an exciting journey.
Obviously, given the youthfulness of the 2022 World Cup team, it's safe to say we know some players who will be involved. Much of the team's young core isn't going anywhere, which is great news for Gregg Berhalter as he returns to coach a second cycle.
Some players, too, will likely age out, with World Cup veteran Tim Ream among those that may not make it through the entirety of the cycle. And then there are the youngsters, fresh off an impressive Under-20 World Cup, that could make the leap in the coming years.
With all that said, GOAL is going to spend the next three years tracking the top 50 players in the USMNT pool...
Previous update: September 14, 2023.