Covid lay waste to 2020 as a sports year and has sprung up once again to impact the soccer world at the end of 2021. However, we did get to see the game return for most of the year and saw our guys play and finally approach the long awaited World Cup Qualifying campaign once again. Let’s take a look at 2021 year in review.
There are mixed feelings about how the team has performed in 2021, from jubilation at being in second place in WCQ to dismay as we are only 1 point clear from the playoff spot to end the 2021 calendar year.
Obviously defeating Mexico in the Nations League Final AND THEN AGAIN in the Gold Cup Final AND THEN AGAIN(!) in the World Cup Qualifying match was / were the highlight(s) of the year. Defeating our rival three times in one year and in epic and dramatic fashion – the penalty by Christian Pulisic and penalty save from Ethan Horvath; the 1-0 clean sheet defeat with Matt Turner and a strong defensive performance from our “B” squad; and the cherry on top of dos a cero with our stars Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie vanquishing a Mexico side who had called the US team out even after two defeats on the year.
Our core players have had a mix of highs and lows from Weston McKennie being sent home during qualifying only to re-emerge stronger than ever for club and country, but also seeing Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams oft on the bench for their clubs to end the year. We’ve seen the rise of dual national commits Ricardo Pepi and Yunus Musah, strong UCL and national campaigns from Gio Reyna, Timo Weah and Brendan Aaronson, an excellent goalkeeper battle emerging between Zack Steffen and Matt Turner (along with a fantastic penalty save from nearl forgotten Ethan Horvath). Chris Richards, Antonee Robinson, Miles Robinson, and Walker Zimmerman have all battled for starting roles and emerging as challengers to incumbant powerhouses like John Brooks.
There are a great mix of players that are itching to emerge as contributors to the national team including UCL goal scoring Jordan Pefok, to club titan Luca de la Torre and top 5 league contributors Nico Gioacchini, Joe Scally and Konrad de la Fuente. Matthew Hoppe and continue to hunt for opportunities with the national team. Jordan Morris saw his return in December and will certainly be hungry to contribute along with Aaron Long as they return from injury in a crowded position.
The next 6 matches for World Cup Qualifying happen in the next 90 days. Gregg Berhalter and his team have much more work to do to secure their position.
The Chasingacup.com Team
A shout to the contributors of 2022 to Chasingacup.com, here’s my favorite contribution from each writer:
My favorite piece that I have put together in a long time, from my passion for this team after the Nations League final which was an incredible experience for fans: 120 Minutes in June
We saw the passing of the torch of the U20 top 50 list from Columbus Crew’s Head of Academy Scouting David Kerr to his protégé Gideon Sutherland.
We had a series of regular contrubitors from the core writers, I selected fan favorites from each:
Shawn Brooks (@pragidealist29) – USMNT Tactical Story
Michelle Schmidt (@mschmidt_soccer) – Falling in Love with Soccer
Patrick Keeler (@pkeeler167)- Are you Experienced?
Scott Jorek (@Burgermeister73) – Bryang Kayo
Paul Harvey (@Thundering165) – Know the Score (How the USMNT score goals for Gregg Berhalter)
Vince Maduri (@USMNT_Thoughts) – Roster Exclusion Categories
Caleb Adams (@itscalebadams) – Tyler Adams
Benton Newman (@PurpleSDF) – Jonathan Gómez
Grace Ott (@gcott151) – CCL
Ryan Cummins (@DeutscherYank) – 2021 Transfer Window
Chris Kerr (@kerrc17) – Gio Reyna
MLS has had tremendous growth of late and continues to help spread the love of soccer in the US. Edwin Games launched the #UnitetoWatch movement and we watched the popularity of the sport among US fans and international soccer fans continue to grow in 2021.
There’s a ton to look forward to in the coming year as the January transfer window is sure to see many more Americans headed to Europe including strong Pepi rumors, World Cup Qualifying completion as American fans hold their breath, and the MLS’ pursuit of CCL and overtaking more sports in popularity. Give each of the above writers a follow and stay tuned to Chasingacup.com for your US soccer news.
Happy New Year from all of us!