By: Colleen Nakhooda 

As the National Men’s United States Soccer Team qualified for the World Cup, the world expected an inexperienced performance from an extremely young group of players. Defying most of the world’s perceptions, the men’s soccer team exceeded expectations and secured a goal-less draw against England’s team the day after Thanksgiving, and advanced against Iran with a goal by Christian Pulisic. The team will go on to face the Netherlands this Saturday, December third, and it will be an anticipated game for all of America. The unique nature of this year’s team can be attributed to the range of young ages of each of the players. Many of the players such as Christian Pullisic, a fan favorite forward of this year’s team, captain Tyler Adams, and midfielder Tyler Mckennie are all in their twenties. If you compare these ages to those of well-known players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar, it is clear that there is a major age difference, as the latter are all in their early and late thirties. This has prospered a connection between America’s youth, seeing that children from all over the country are inspired by the heart and drive of this young national team. The celebrations have ranged from massive parades and parties in bars in cities across the country, to classrooms erupting as leading goalie Matt Turner saved the US many times within the last few games. While sports fans have increased their following of the men’s team, this year’s World Cup has brought entertainment and attraction to even the average person. I had never watched this much soccer before, but now I find myself following the United States’s games during the day, in class, after school, and long into the weekends. Each player has created a sense of fandom that connects each fan not solely to the team, but to each player individually, allowing for fans to feel captivated by the games. Not only has this team inspired the country, but it has given the world a new perception on American soccer and its impact. 

As the United States has faced an increasingly polarized worldt, and growing social divides, this year’s participation in the World Cup has given many a sense of connection and unity. On multiple occasions, players have highlighted the impact that their team has had on the entire nation this year, and between major internal conflicts, the United States Men’s Team is providing a sense of hope and inspiration to a lot  of America. When it comes to the more technical surprises of this year’s team, soccer critics have seen an increase in the “ruthless mentality” of this year’s American team and coaching staff. Instead of treading water in a more defensive strategy, as the team has done in the past, the team has not backed down from attempting to be aggressive offensively, and Klinsmann has urged his players to “go forward and by multiple goals”. If anything, the men’s soccer team has proved that preconceived notions of their timid game play have been defied, and instead have been replaced by ruthless draws against superior teams, and intoxicating intensity in low scoring games not in favor of the United States. If the underdog team of the year continues its winning streak, perhaps even securing a World Cup Title, I cannot imagine the nation’s pride and celebration for the upcoming years, and the rise in expectations for the following World Cup in 2026.