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England | Elo: 14 | FIFA: 5

History: And now we pay homage to the home of soccer. While a similar sport found popularity in Ancient China, the “Association football” we know and love originated as one of many types of “football” played by school-children in public schools across England. A comprehensive set of laws regarding “assoccer” – shorthand for “association”, longhand for “soccer” – were codified with the formation of the Football Association(FA) in 1863. While the name didn’t stick, in England anyway, that set of laws – simply referred to as The Laws of the Game – still largely define the football that’s played today.The English National team was formed soon after, becoming, alongside Scotland, the oldest national team in the world. 

In 1870, a team of Englishmen played a Scottish team largely consisting of london-born Scots to a 0-0 draw in the world’s first unofficial international friendly. The world’s first official friendly was the return tie held in 1872; England won.

For the next  40 years England would exclusively play Scotland, Ireland, and Wales in the British Home Championship, an annual tournament between the four national teams in the United Kingdom. The Three Lions finished second to Scotland in the tournament’s first four iterations. After trading gold with the Scots in 1888 and 1889, England managed their own 4-peat between 90 and 93.

The Brits ventured beyond the isles in 1908, beating Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia. England wouldn’t experience defeat outside their island until 1929 with a 3-2 loss to Spain. A year before, the FA withdrew from FIFA after feuding over amateurs, meaning England wouldn’t participate in the first three World Cups. They would participate in the Battle of Highbury, defeating Italy – the defending Jules Rimet holders – 3-2 in a match with more than soccer at stake. England beat facism again In 1938… after being forced to appease Hitler.

In the aftermath of the second World War, the FA made up with FIFA and England qualified for the 1950 World Cup via a top 2 finish in the 49-50 Home Championship. Coming off two wins against facism in the 30’s, the Brits punctuated the 40’s with empathic victories over Italy – still champs – and Portugal, entering the 1950 Copa de Mundial as overwhelming favorites. Sure, they were technically debutants, but for most of the sport’s history, as of 1950, the Home Nations, particularly England and Scotland, had been in a league of their own. England just couldn’t lose. And yet they did. Twice. The write-in champs bowed out in round one. And thus the dye was cast. Football did come home in 66, but the wait for its return has been long, and often painful

Enter Southgate. On the back of another golden generation highlighted by a number of world class footballers, The Three Lions have reached nigh-unprecedented highs. In 2018, England came within 30 minutes of the World Cup Final. In 2021, they reached the final of the European Championship. Can Southgate’s men build off these near-misses with a  triumph in Lusail? Or will that hope kill?

Once more The Three Lions enter the colosseum. Once more, England expects. But will the lions roar.. or whimper? The world will soon see.

Expected Finish: 1st


Ranking 1st per TMV, and 6th per WCDCS, England have a claim as the most talented team on the planet. And while the Lions have plenty of questions, their three groupmates, all substantially less talented and vastly less accomplished, enter with questions of their own.

The nations league went badly, but most of these games weren’t played with a full-strength side.

With a group of elite players, who’ve thrived in multiple major tournaments, entering their prime, the Lions are hard to pick against; at least in round one.

Why not?

They ended the recent Nations league with a loss and a dead-rubber draw. Both featured what could be characterized as England’s “a team”. Before the dead-rubber, England scored once in 5. Harry Kane started all but one of those matches.

While Southgate has been superficially successful, a closer look at his work reveals that favorable draws have papered over significant underperformance. Gifted a collection of creative attackers, Southgate has prioritized defensive solidity. Forcing round pegs into square holes has proven costly

While I think they may be able to brute-talent this group, it’s unlikely they get much further.

Key Players

Besides being one of the best players on the planet, Harry Kane is obviously England’s best talisman. Kane has led the premier league in scoring thrice in the last 6 years. In the last world cup, Kane bagged 5 to nab the Golden Boot. But lost in Kane’s prowess as a scorer, is his powers as a playmaker. In 2021, Kane led the premier league in goals and assists. Harry is a phenomenal playmaker, able to create from  range and tight spaces. It was Kane’s playmaking that allowed England to dominate early proceedings against the Italians last May. The Tottenham forward is the centerpiece of England’s offense, even if he doesn’t end up bagging all their goals.

Jude Bellingham might not start, but it’s obvious that he should. At 19, Jude is already a world-class  playmaker and ball-progressor, as well as a strong defender, presser, and scoring threat. If there is a soccer equivalent to a 5-tool-player, Jude Bellingham might be it. On a team that has struggled mightily to create in recent outings, Southgate’s ability, and willingness, to get the best out of England’s best midfielder may well determine if this team has any hope of hoisting the Jules Rimiet.

USA | Elo: 15 | FIFA: 21

History: Enter The Stars and Stripes. 3rd place finishers in 1930, the only team outside of Europe and S.A to reach a major final on neutral ground, and one of two Concacaf teams to reach the quarterfinals since the World Cup expanded to a full 32, the United States Men’s National Team(USMNT) is the second most successful national team outside of Europe and South America; not a bad resume, but for the world’s preeminent superpower – for better or for worse – that feels a bit disappointing. 

The USMNT is one of the world’s oldest national teams. A 1-0 loss to Canada in 1885 marked the first international friendly outside of the British Isles. They rode this head-start to modest success, finishing 3rd at the Maiden World Cup in 1930, beating Mexico to qualify for 1934, and pulling off, per Elo, the 7th biggest upset in the history of international soccer, thereby eliminating an English behemoth; the US still crashed out, courtesy of a Chilean trashing.

After the Second World War, the program hit a 40-year lull. In the three decades after the 50 World Cup win, the USMNT only managed a handful of victories. Despite early international success, and the creation of a relatively popular domestic league, the American public showed little interest in America’s team.

 Ironically, it was the domestic league’s collapse which helped resurrect US soccer. In the absence of a professional league at home, Americans like Paul Caligari were forced to push themselves abroad; thus the US entered the 86 cycle with talent at its disposal.

With quality in its ranks, the USMNT entered the last match of the 86 qualification tournament only requiring a tie to qualify. They would lose, via an early own goal, but that near-miss, along with the commercial potential of bringing football to a populous superpower, was enough for The Yanks to be named hosts for the 94 World Cup. Given the Americans’ inability to qualify by the merit of their play, the decision sparked outrage. But a year later, the USMNT earned qualification for the 90 tournament, thanks to a long-range finish from… Paul Caligari. While they went point-less in Italy, they’d shock Colombia 4 years later to reach the second round for the first time in more than a century. The World Cup was also a massive commercial success, laying the foundation for a sustainable domestic league, and serious nation-wide investment in the sport.

Using this base, the USMNT leveled up in the next 20 years, reaching two Copa America semi-finals, usually making the World Cup round of sixteen, and almost always qualifying. Regionally they improved, splitting cups with Mexico, and winning the Hex – the final round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying between 1997 and 2018 – three times on the trot. 

But as the 2000’s turned into the 2010’s, the program stagnated. With each step forward, there was a step back. A quarter final run in 2002 was followed by a group stage exit in 2006. A victory against  invincible Spain was wasted with a comeback loss against Brazil. The Yanks won a group with England only to blow a favorable path to the semis. Donovan’s men simply didn’t have the quality to win consistently, and after Donovan’s departure, it all fell apart. Yet, amidst this mediocrity, seeds were planted for something greater. 

And thus, enters the golden generation. Following a glorious summer, and an arduous spring, The Stars and Stripes enter winter with hopes sky-high. 

Will 2022 mark a new beginning? Or will it teach yet another lesson in patience.

Expected Finish: 2nd


They are the second most talented team, ranking top 16 in both TMV and WCDCS. Their form is about as strong as their group mates, with a marginal advantage in FIFA, and a marginal disadvantage in Elo. They enter Qatar with their key pieces healthy and mostly in-form, and have the second youngest squad in the tourney. It’s not hard to see them outlast older competition in what looks to be one of the hottest World Cups.

Looking to history, a substantially less talented generation of Americans were usually able to find a way out. They also currently have a strong claim as the best team in CONCACAF, a mantle which usually predicts surviving round one.

There are questions, but this is true for all of their group mates. The American case isn’t overwhelming, but the counterpoints don’t seem particularly strong.

Why not?

Well for one, manager Gregg Berhalter may not have his priorities sorted. Is Gregg’s aim to win or to change the way the world views American soccer by playing a more aesthetically pleasing brand of footy? Coming off a pair of poor friendly performances in September, it’s not clear those two aims can coexist peacefully.

The US has also been disappointing away from the comforts of home. They have one competitive away victory this cycle. Including friendlies, they are winless against World Cup teams away or on neutral ground.

They are also relatively inexperienced. Yedlin is the only player on the squad who has played in a world cup and the Inter Miami full-back is unlikely to see serious minutes

The position of center-back remains a big question. The best two available center-backs, Zimmerman and Ream, have not played many minutes together. For a team that usually likes to play a high-line, Ream may not be an optimal fit. With incumbents Richard and Robinson injured, there aren’t quality options who’ve recently been integrated into the side.

The US generally seem at their best playing in transition. This might prove a problem with two group-mates who are likely to sit back and force the US to do something with the ball. Thus far, this cycle, the US have struggled with low-blocks.

And while it is true the USMNT historically have done alright at this stage, it’s not clear that was ever sustainable. 2010 is the only World Cup where the USMNT out-created most of their opponents. While this side has more outfield talent, they don’t have quality keepers like Howard or Friedel to level the playing field.

While I favor them to finish 2nd, a last-place finish wouldn’t surprise me.

Key Players

Fulham left-back Antonee Robinson has been very good in the Premier League. He’s also essential both as a ball-progressor, and chance creator for the way Berhalter likes to play. Antonee Robinson is also the only natural left-back on the USMNT’s roster. An elite 1 v 1 defender, a fast ball-progressor, and a strong crosser, Antonee Robinson’s style of play is simple, but effective. Bought for 13 Million in 2020 by AC Milan, Antonee Robinson has developed into the US’s least replaceable piece. 

Brenden Aaronson is quite good. In 21-22, he played every minute for Salzburg as they became the first Austrian team to ever reach the knockout stage of the Champions League. In 22-23 he’s been the centerpiece for a Leeds side overperforming modest resources. With 1 goal and 2 assists, Aaronson may not seem a remarkable attacker, but a closer look may prove revealing. 5 of Leeds goals have come off Aaronson pressure. And while it didn’t show up in the score-sheet, not many Americans have taken out 5 defenders on the dribble. Aaronson does a fair bit on the other end, being among the league leaders in pressures completed, duels won, and ground covered. A capable creator and progressor with an unrivaled engine, Aaronson can be pretty valuable. He’s especially valuable against big teams. All three of his g/a came against Chelsea and Tottenham. His two assists were a small part of what many found impressive against Bayern, and against Liverpool, it was his pressing that led to both of Leed’s goals in a massive win against at Anfield. With a plethora of quality options in attack, Aaronson is not essential for this team to advance. But if they look to do something more, Brenden may define this team’s ceiling.

Iran | Elo: 21 | FIFA: 20 |

History: Do not sleep on Team Melli. Paired with Spain, Portugal, and Morocco in 2018, Iran were this close to advancing. Qatar will mark Iran’s 6th World Cup. The Persian Stars will be desperate to avoid a 6th group stage exit.

The Iranian Football Federation(IFF) was founded in 1920. In 1926 the IFF formed the Tehran XI, an Iranian team with players picked from various Iranian clubs. In 1941 Tehran Xi became Team Melli and beat British India 1-0. Later that year, Team Melli became Iran, playing Afghanistan to a goalless draw. In 1968, Iran hosted the Asian Cup. Their debut went perfectly, with 4 wins in 4 matches making The Honour of Persia, the Champions of Asia. In 72 they would go to Thailand, and again things went perfectly. Iran would win 5 of 5 games to win a second straight championship. Iran would host again in 76. And again, they were perfect. With 4 wins in 4, Iran completed a stretch of continental dominance that never has, and maybe never will, be replicated.

Iran’s first venture into World Cup Qualification came in 1974, at a time where only one spot was allocated for all of Asia and all of Oceania. Iran would win an all-Asian group to enter a playoff with Australia. With a 3-0 loss away, and a 2-0 win at home, Iran bowed out as Australia went on to qualify. In 78 Iran were dominant, cruising to their first World Cup with a record of 10 wins, including 2 victories over the Aussies, and 2 draws. Iran were quickly eliminated from the tournament proper with losses to the Netherlands and Peru, but they’d go home with a point from a surprise tie with Scotland. Then, came revolution.

Conflict and unrest would sideline Iranian soccer until 1989 when Team Melli returned to AFC qualification for the 1990 finals. Needing to win their group to progress The Persian Stars won 5 of 6 matches, but finished 2nd on goal-difference to China. In 1994 they went undefeated in round one to reach the final round of qualifying. With two World Cup berths up for grab, Iran finished 2 points shy of 2nd place South Korea. In 98, Iran went undefeated, again, to make the final round. There, a second place set them up for a playoff vs Japan. The winner would reach the World Cup while the loser would be sent to a final playoff. Japan found a winner in the 118th minute, sending Iran to an intercontinental playoff with… Australia. In the rematch of the 74 AFC-OFC playoff, Iran emerged victorious.

At the finals, Iran would emerge victorious again in a match that meant a little more than 3 points. Losses to Germany and Yugoslavia would eliminate Team Melli anyway, but Iran had finally won. 

In 2002, Iran lost an intercontinental playoff to Northern Ireland, In 2006 they qualified before exiting with a solitary point, and in 2010, they made neither the finals, nor a playoff, finishing second to last in the final round Qualification.

And then, came Carlos Quieroz, fresh off a stint with Real Madrid. Inheriting a team traditionally slanted for attack, Quieroz prioritized defense. The result was transformational. Iran didn’t just qualify in 2014, they cruised, topping a group with South Korea after losing just 3 of 14 matches. While a loss to Bosnia eliminated them from the finals, Iran showed well against African champion Nigeria, and eventual runner-ups Argentina

The IFF nearly lost Quieroz to sheer incompetence, but the Madrid magician returned and 2018 went even better. Iran went undefeated in 18 qualifiers putting up a continent best 22 points in the final round. They opened the group stage with their second ever World Cup win before putting forth valiant efforts in 1 goal loss to Spain and a tie against the Portuguese. While they were narrowly eliminated in the group of death, no one could deny that Quieroz had built something special.

Quieroz resigned for the 2022 cycle, but his machine kept rolling. After a couple shock losses in the first round of qualifying, Dragan Skokic righted the ship. Putting together a continent high 25 points in the final round, Iran qualified easily, only losing a dead-rubber against South Korea.

And so, on the crest of a rising tide, Iran enters their third straight World Cup. The old magician is back, their star man is shining, and controversy abounds.

Can Team Melli finally break through?

Expected Finish: 4th


Originally I had them 3rd. Then they fired their reasonably successful coach. Then their second best player got hurt. And now there are various distractions. I have no issue with political activism in sport, but combined, these conditions don’t seem conducive to optimal performance in high-stake tournament soccer. 

Iran are the least talented team in their group. Frankly, they’re one of the least talented teams in the tournament. One of their two stars will, at best, be limited, and there is plenty of reason to think the team won’t be playing at their best.

Maybe Carlos can bring it together, but this is a big ask.

Why not?

Besides England, Iran are the most experienced team in Group B. They also performed well four years ago in a tougher group with a weaker set of players.

Iran are also, arguably, the second most in-form team, pairing a dominant qualification campaign with some decent friendly results for a top 20 ranking in Elo and FIFA.

Iran could definitely surprise, but I have a few too many questions to pick them.

Key Players

In 2022-2023,  Mehdi Taremi has 5 goals and 2 assists in 5 champions league matches to go along with 6 goals and 5 assists in 13 outings in Liga Portugal. Moreover, the underlying data suggests that this production is sustainable and therefore predictive. Mehdi’s production has certainly translated with the national team with Taremi putting up 7 goals and 5 assists in 13 Asian qualifiers. An elite chance creator, scoring threat, and ball-progressor, Mehdi Taremi is one of Group B’s stars and is Iran’s best player. If Taremi can produce for his country as he has produced at the highest levels of Europe, Iran has every chance to advance.

Sardar Azmoun has 41 goals in 65 caps. While Azmoun has struggled for goals, and minutes, at Leverkusen, he’s been Iran’s main talisman internationally, scoring 10 times in 14 qualifiers to help The Persian Stars reach Qatar. It’s unclear what Sardar can offer Iran as he’s rushed back to fitness, but a healthy Azmoun would make Quieroz’s job significantly easier.

Wales | Elo: 26 | FIFA: 19 |

History: At long last, The Dragons have arrived. In 1958, they were World Cup quarter-finalists. Now, 64 years later, Wales makes its return.

 In 1876, the Welsh faced the Scots for Wales’ first ever friendly. They would lose the game, badly, but would win the sweet consolation prize of being the third oldest national team in the world. A year later they would play the Scots again… and lose. They’d try yet again in 1878… and lose… by 9. The Football Association of Wales(FAW) decided they’d try England instead. William Davies scored Wales’ first ever goal and the Welsh lost by a respectable margin of 2-1. In 1880, perhaps buoyed by nearly erasing a 3-goal deficit in a 3-2 loss to England, Wales decided to try Scotland again; they lost 5-1. 

At long last, in 1881, after the FAW smartly switched back to the Brits, a John Vaughan strike gave the Welsh their first victory. In 1882, the Irish national team was formed, and the Welsh took the chance to orientate them with a beat-down. With consecutive victories under their belt, the Welsh faced England a month later. Wales went a goal down, went a man down, then came back to beat the Brits 5-3. 

With the advent of the British Home Championship in 1884, the natural pecking order was restored. Over the first three championships, Wales beat Ireland to avoid 4th, while going winless against England and Scotland to go 3rd. Then in 87, The Dragons flipped the script, losing 4-1 to Ireland to finish last. Finally, in 1895, by tying all their fixtures, Wales finished 2nd. 

In 1905, Wales finally beat Scotland, thereby managing their second 2nd place finish. In 1907, the Welsh won it all, beating Scotland, beating Ireland, and tying England to win their first gold. When the tournament ended in 1987, Wales ended up with 12 gold medals. England and Scotland picked up 54 and 41 respectively, and Ireland finished with 8.

With the FA rejoining FIFA in 1946, Wales became eligible for participation in the 1950 World Cup. To qualify they would need a top two finish in the 1949-50 Home Championship. Losses to England and Scotland consigned Wales to 3rd. Wales would finish last in the 1953-54 championship, once again missing the World Cup. In 1958, the British Home Championship was dropped as a means of qualification. Instead Wales would be randomly drawn against other teams in Europe. 

With an emerging golden generation under the stewardship of Jimmy Murphy and a qualification path that avoided perennial bullies England and Scotland, Wales looked set for a first World Cup appearance. Yet The Dragons came up short once more, finishing 2nd in a group with Czechoslovakia and West Germany. But fortune favored the Welsh, and a series of withdrawals set-up Wales with a second chance: An inter-continental playoff against Israel. The Dragons soared, comfortably beating Israel home and away. At the tournament proper, Wales conjured the magic of 1895, finishing 2nd in their group by tying all their group-mates. In round two, they faced Brazil. Even in defeat, the Welsh accounted for themselves well, losing by one to a team that would bash France and Sweden en route to their first World Cup victory. It would take the Welsh a while to get back.

Wales failed to qualify for the first four European Championships. When they reached the Euros in 1976, they surprised, making the quarterfinals. Perhaps their most notable accomplishment during this period was splitting spoils with England – then World Cup holders – in the 1970 Home Championship. 

The Welsh came close to World Cup qualification in 1982, missing out on goal difference thanks to a 3-0 defeat by Soviet hands. 4 years later, despite a romp over the Spaniards, a 1-1 draw – marred by tragedy – meant that Wales missed out on goal difference again. Continuing a long-line of agonizingly close misses, The Dragons came within a penalty kick of the World Cup in 1994 and lost a playoff for a spot the 2006 Euros.

 Enter Gareth Bale. With an emerging cluster of talent spearheaded by a world-class attacker, the world’s third oldest national team entered a new golden age. The Welsh easily qualified for the 2016 Euros where they’d make an unlikely run to the semi-finals. Wales would qualify for the 2021 Euros, marking the first time The Dragons have reached consecutive major tournaments. Then, on the back of their brilliant, if fading, talisman, Wales reached Qatar.

And so arrive The Dragons. In a sport defined by expectation, this Diamond Generation has indisputably delivered. Win, lose, or draw, Qatar will be a celebration, commemorating a return that redeems decades of heart-ache. The Welsh will play with house money.

So just how far can they go?

Expected Finish: 3rd


Wales are the third most talented team in their group, have not impressed with recent results, and their aging superstar has struggled mightily in a 2nd tier league.

European teams historically perform worse in hotter climates, and there are already early signs that Wales might wilt in the Qatari heat.

Wales could certainly surprise, but it’s hard to see them as favorites.

Why not?

Gareth Bale is often a different man when he plays for his country. And whatever you thought of Bale during the Major League Soccer(MLS) regular season, when the time came to win, Gareth delivered.

Wales, unlike the USMNT, have a clear identity they’ve played with for years. With fast wingers and Gareth Bale, it’s not hard to see the Welsh punishing an American centerback partnership which has barely played together, or, depending on who Berhalter chooses to start, is demonstrably error-prone.

With Azmoun still hurt, Iran is likely going to be relying heavily on a single attacker for offense. Considering that Wales have, arguably, the second best center-back pairing in group B, The Dragons may well be able to neutralize Team Melli

Maybe that isn’t enough, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Bale and co. proved me wrong.

Key Players

Having bagged all 3 of Wales’ goals during the UEFA qualification playoffs, Gareth Bale is still Wales’ most dangerous magician. A 5-times Champions League winner, as well as a 1x MLS Cup Champion, the former Tottenham superstar may just buy The Dragons a ticket to round 2.

Daniel James is fast. A regular player for a Fulham team holding up surprisingly well in the Premier League, James’ ability to make probing runs, outpace defenders, and arrive at dangerous spots, may prove vital for a Wales team that doesn’t like using the ball. With pace, defensive chops, and a nose for goal, James might break a few hearts in Qatar.

Predicted Group Standings

2United States

For more info on the methodology click here.

Group Previews:










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USMNT Kits Come in Different Styles and Colors



Thomas Deschaine (@uskeeper on X and us_keeper on Instagram)

US Soccer kit releases are something fans get excited about and lately have resulted in disappointment. US Soccer’s recent schedule for kits release during the cycle has seen them releasing another road and or third kits in Gold Cup years and home and away pairs in the even years. 

US Soccer is expected to release the 2024 Copa America kits for the USMNT in the coming weeks headed into the Nations League Finals. Last Thursday evening Footy Headlines, who has had a good track record of leaking USMNT kits in the past, provided the below pictures of the home and away USMNT kits. These kits haven’t officially been announced by Nike or US Soccer, but the anticipated announcement is expected in the coming weeks headed into the Nations League Final.

Photo from – February 29, 2024

Fake Leaked USMNT Kits

The below USMNT kits were leaked over the last decade, but none of them came to fruition, it’s fun to look at what could have been for the USMNT.

2014 World Cup Kits

These leaked kits headed into the 2014 FIFA World Cup were where loved by many USMNT fans due to the sash and the use of the Centennial Crest, but unfortunately, these kits were fakes and never released.

Photo from SportsLogos.Net – September 13, 2013

2015 Alternative Kit & 2016 Copa America

Generally, US Soccer releases an alternate kit in the years that the Gold Cup is played. This leak kit was reported back in 2015 by NBCSports and then again by MLS Soccer when it was suggested it could be used during the Copa América Centenario.

Photo from NBCSports – April 2, 2015

2022 World Cup Kits

I would have much preferred for the USMNT to have worn these kits at the 2022 FIFA World Cup when they ended up, but alas it was another leaked kit that never was. 

Photo from – May 6, 2022

2024 Copa America Kit

This rumored kit for the USMNT was based on similar kits worn by the USMNT at the 1924 Olympics and the 1930 World Cup.

Photo from via – September 14, 2023

History of US Soccer Crest and USMNT kits

Over ten years ago I began my research of USMNT soccer data in search of a single source site, which I quickly found didn’t exist. Through my research, I started to comply with old USMNT kits and crests from the past. As I acquired more and more kits worn by the USMNT and was able to start to fill in the gaps between them I decided to digitally recreate these kits and share them with the USMNT fans. 

Here’s a look at what I was able to find while it seems like a lot I am sure there are many more kits I missed and if so I would love to know which ones so I could create and update what I have already.

History of US Soccer Crests

Here’s the history of the US Soccer crests. I had to recreate several of these crests based on old pictures I found throughout my research since there were no digital images available. 

USMNT Kits – 1916-1973

These were the first kits worn by the USMNT which weren’t sponsored. There are variations of these kits worn by the USMNT which comprised of variations of crests and styles, likely due to available funds during this time. My favorite kits in the group are the ones with the sashes from the 1928 and 1936 Olympics and the 1959 Pan American Games

USMNT Kits – 1974-1983

The group of kits for the USMNT were the first that were sponsored by Adidas. There were a lot of similar styles of kits during this time which really lacked any creativity. My favorite kits in the group are the ones from the middle to late 1970s, there is something about their simplicity and clean look. 

USMNT Kits – 1984-1994

Adidas’s 20-year run of creating kits for US Soccer ended in 1994, with few quality kits made during those couple of decades, which is ironic considering how nice Adidas’s kits are today. My favorite kits in the group are the 1985/1986 blue hoop kit and the 1988 Blue Olympic kit.

USMNT Kits – 1995-2011

In 1995 Nike took over the creation of the US Soccer kits and started by making three similar kits for the 1995 Copa America and 1996 third kit for the US Cup. Nike did release three Special Edition kits in 2003, 2004, and 2006, which were only worn for one match each. My favorite kits in the group all had a sash on them, which were both the 2010 World Cup kits and the red 2011 Gold Cup kit. 

USMNT Kits – 2012-Current

Most USMNT fans would agree that recent kits released by Nike haven’t held the standard seen in the 2010s, where the hoops/stripes that some many fans loved for the 2012 Waldo kits were incorporated. My unsung kits of this group are the 2018 home kit, which would have been worn at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and the 2017 Gold Cup kit. 

USMNT Kits going forward

Nike and US Soccer signed what was considered a historical long-term sponsor agreement, in November 2021, that went into effect in Janaury 2023 that will run for at least a decade which will cover the 2026 FIFA World Cup and 2028 Summer Olympics and possibly a 2027 or 2031 Women’s World Cup hosted in the United States, so for fans who has hoped for a different kit creator they will have to wait a while.

Once the 2024 Copa America kits are released US Soccer will likely only release one more kit for the 2025 Gold Cup for the USMNT before releasing the 2026 World Cup kits. One idea that I’ve had for a long time was for US Soccer to release Special Edition Kits with styles from the past, with the limited release of those kits, coupled with playing matches in locations and venues throughout the United States to build the fan base and excitement for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

In conclusion, I am somewhat optimistic that US Soccer and Nike will create some variation of the 2012 Waldo kit & 1994 Stats and Denim kit to be worn as the hosts of the 2026 World Cup.

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2024: A Pivotal Year for the USMNT



Thomas Deschaine (@uskeeper on X/Formally Twitter)

Photo From: USA Today-John Locher, AP – 18, June 2023 – 2023 Concacaf Nations League 

As the fog hovered over Estadio Parque Artigas Stadium in Paysandú, Uruguay in the 58th minute Eric Wynalda received the ball on the right wing with Joe-Max Moore making a run forward and in front of  Wynalda who delivered a pass to Moore who then went down preventing the ball from being taken away and sending it back to Wynalda who slides forward and scores the third goal of the match and his third goal of the tournament, making it 3-0 USA over tenth-ranked Argentinians and all but sealing the win and the top spot in Group C at the 1995 Copa America. The win for this USMNT consisted of 17 players from the 1994 World Cup team who reached their pinnacle with this group of players finishing fourth at this Copa America.

Over the previous three decades, the USMNT has had some of the biggest wins in the team’s history. During the 1999 Confederations Cup, which was played in Mexico the USMNT played a hard-fought match against the fifth-ranked Germans defeating them 2-0 in the final group stage match and finishing third overall in the tournament. The USMNT would also have an even bigger result against second-ranked Spain in the semi-finals of the 2009 Confederations Cup when they ended Spain’s 35-game unbeaten streak in a 2-0 victory that would send them to the final against Brazil.

2024 is the midway point of the 2026 FIFA World Cup cycle, and the next two windows for the USMNT who as a team and federation need to start ascending to their apex with this group to ensure that they have an amazing performance at the 2026 World Cup.

The USMNT has already played their first match, a 1-0 defeat to Slovenia, but need to quickly focus on the March window 2024 CONCACAF Nations League Finals where they will play Jamaica in the semi-final round and a win would put the USMNT in their third straight Nations League Final where they would have a chance to play either Mexico or Panama and win their third straight Concacaf Nations League trophy.

Some 90 days later the USMNT will be kicking off only their fifth appearance at the Copa America Tournament, with the stakes for this group at an all-time high and where success is demanded from the players, coaches, fans, and the federation. Will this current group of USMNT players and coaches be able to progress to the next level against the elite teams of CONMEBOL? It’s worth noting that the USMNT has finished fourth twice at Copa America in 1995 and 2016, however, the USMNT finished 32nd at the 1998 World Cup and failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

The U-23 USMNT will also be playing the Olympics for the first time since 2008, which provides a great opportunity for those U-23 players to get noticed on a big stage. There are many eligible players who if released by their clubs will have a great opportunity to impress while helping the U-23 USMNT make a deep run at the 2024 Olympics in France.

As it becomes increasingly harder for the USMNT to schedule non-Concacaf opponents the US Soccer Federation will need to get creative in who and where they schedule these Friendly matches. The June window offers up the best opportunities for the USMNT to schedule matches against other CONMEBOL teams, preferably in Groups A and B which feature Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela

Edgar Moreno on X, formally Twitter, reported that the USMNT and Colombia have scheduled a Friendly headed into Copa America. It was also reported on that Colombia will be scheduling a total of four matches leading into the tournament, two of which will be taking place in Europe. While there are challenges with timing and logistics around scheduling Friendlies with UEFA teams, USSF really needs to do everything possible to secure a similar type of schedule headed into Copa America but, rarely schedules USMNT Friendlies outside of the FIFA International window, which Colombia would need to do to make that schedule work. 

 It has been recently rumored that the USMNT might close to scheduling a Friendly with Colombia headed into Copa America. The September and October windows have few quality opponents available, at the time of the article it appears that the September window could be an opportunity to play schedule matches with teams from the CAF Confederation, but those matches would likely need to be played at neutral sites in Europe. 

2024 USMNT Window

MarchJune WindowCopa AmericaSeptemberOctoberNovember
CNL Finals                 March 18-26Friendlies            June 3-11                                  June 20-July 14Friendlies           Sept. 2-10Friendlies           Oct. 7-15CNL quarterfinals       Nov. 11-19

Below are eight years since the 1994 cycle that at the time were considered big years for the USMNT as they were playing in FIFA tournaments against teams from other confederations. Below is a look at how they fared.


6 Wins, 4 Draws, 11 Losses, GF-21, GA-27

Third Place at the King Fahd Cup renamed Confederations Cup in 1997 edition.

First at U.S. Cup (Participating teams –Ireland, Italy & Portugal)

Top Goal Scorers

5-Eric Wynalda
3-Hugo Perez
3-Marcelo Balboa
2-Bruce Murray
2-John Harkes

Goalkeeper Stats

5 Wins – Tony Meola
4 Shutouts – Tony Meola

Photo From: Soccer International, Volume 3, Issue 12, December 1992


10 Wins, 11 Draws, 13 Losses, GF-45, GA-44

Twelfth place at Copa America 

Second Place at Gold Cup

Third Place at U.S. Cup (Participating teams – Brazil, England & Germany)

34 matches played 1st All-Time

11 Draws tied for 1st All-Time with 1994

13 Loses 1st All-Time

44 Goals Conceded 1st All-Time

Top Goal Scorers

8-Joe-Max Moore
7-Dominic Kinnear
4-Alexi Lalas
4-Thomas Dooley

Goalkeeper Stats

Photo From:  El Grafico Number 3847, June 16, 1993

7 Wins – Tony Meola
8 Shutouts – Tony Meola


5 Wins, 3 Draws, 6 Losses, GF-20, GA-18

Fourth Place at Copa America

First at U.S. Cup (Participating teams – Colombia, Mexico & Nigeria)

Top Goal Scorers

3-Eric Wynalda
2-Joe-Max Moore
2-Alexi Lalas
2-John Harkes

Goalkeeper Stats

3 Wins – Kasey Keller
2 Shutouts – Brad Friedel & Kasey Keller

Photo From: DIEGO GIUDICE Associated Press file, July 14, 1995


7 Wins, 2 Draws, 4 Losses, GF-19, GA-11

Third Place at Confederations Cup

Second Place at U.S. Cup (Participating teams – Bolivia, Guatemala & Mexico)

Top Goal Scorers

3-Joe-Max Moore
3-Brian McBride
2-Ben Olsen
2-Jovan Kirovski
2-Frankie Hedjuk

Goalkeeper Stats

2 Wins – Brad Friedel & Kasey Keller
2 Shutouts – Brad Friedel & Tony Meola

Photo From: FIFA Report- 1999 Mexico, July 30, 1999


10 Wins, 2 Draws, 4 Losses, GF-28, GA-10

Seventh Place at Confederations Cup

Third place at Gold Cup

Top Goal Scorers

7-Landon Donovan
4-Carlos Bocanegra
3-Brian McBride
3-Chris Klein

Goalkeeper Stats

6 Wins – Kasey Keller
5 Shutouts – Kasey Keller

Photo From: FIFA Confederations Cup, June 23, 2003


12 Wins, 1 Draws, 5 Losses, GF-31, GA-19

Twelfth Place at Copa America 

First Place at Gold Cup

Top Goal Scorers

9-Landon Donovan
3-Clint Dempsey
3- DaMarcus Beasley
2-Eddie Johnson
2-Benny Feilhaber
2-Carlos Bocanegra

Goalkeeper Stats

8 Wins – Tim Howard
4 Shutouts – Tim Howard

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Guillermo Legaria/EPA/Shutterstock (8021271j) Argentinean Striker Lionel Messi (r) and U S Mildfielder Ricardo Clarck Figth For the Ball During the Copa America Group C Soccer Match Argentina Vs Usa at the Pachencho Romero Stadium in Maracaibo Venezuela 28 June 2007 Venezuela Maracaibo Venezuela Soccer Copa America – Jun 2007

Photo From: Guillermo Legaria – FIFA Copa America, June 28, 2007 


13 Wins. 3 Draws, 8 Losses, GF-43, GA-36

Second Place at Confederations Cup

Second Place at Gold Cup

Top Goal Scorers

6-Jozy Altidore
5-Landon Donovan
4-Clint Dempsey
4-Michael Bradley
3- Sacha Kljestan
3- Charlie Davies

Goalkeeper Stats

7 Wins – Tim Howard
4 Shutouts – Tim Howard

Photo From: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images


12 Wins, 1 Draw, 6 Losses, GF-37, GA-20

Fourth Place at Copa America

Top Goal Scorers

6-Jozy Altidore
4-Bobby Wood
4-Clint Dempsey
3-Christian Pulisic
3-Gyasi Zardes

Goalkeeper Stats

8 Wins – Brad Guzan
6 Shutouts – Brad Guzan

Photo From: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Expectations for the in 2024 USMNT

The USMNT is expected to once again advance to the Nations League Final and with their full fit A Squad should be able to bring home their third Nations League trophy, but the 2024 Copa America tournament is very possible the most important non-World Cup the USMNT has even competed it. How success and failure will be determined by the USSF and fans will be interesting to follow. Gregg Berhalter has to prove that he can put together a roster, a formation that allows for simple and effective tactics that will allow the USMNT to not only compete against some top-tier nations but beat them. Success for me isn’t just advancing to the semi-finals of Copa America The USMNT needs to perform at the next level against the top-tier nations, something that I’ve only seen a handful of times in my nearly 35 years as a USMNT fan.

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USMNT’S Next Great Location



Where the USMNT Should Play Next and Why?


The largest USMNT home attendance of 93,869 took place at the 1994 World Cup in a 1-0 loss to Romania at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

The U.S. men’s national team announced last month that their only January Camp 2024 Friendly match would be played in the nearly 8,300-seat Toyota Field, home of the USL Championship team San Antonio FC. This marks only the third time USMNT has played a match in a USL venue, the last match was in March 2018, at WakeMed Soccer Park, in Cary, North Carolina. It also marked the 16th time that the USMNT will be playing a match at a venue with a capacity of less than 10,000 (USMNT have played 13 matches at 10,000 seat capacity). 

How and where USMNT decides to play matches has recently been scrutinized by fans who live in areas of the United States where matches are rarely — or never — played. Back in March 2023, the USMNT played their final Concacaf Nations League match in Orlando, making its sixth appearance in Orlando since Exploria Stadium opened in 2017. The USMNT has also played seven matches in the state of Ohio since the beginning of the 2018 cycle, four of which have been played in Cincinnati, which is tied for the second most matches played in a city since 2018. USMNT fans nationwide who haven’t been able to attend a local or regional match recently continue to ask why the same handful of venues continue to be selected, even for Friendly matches.  

Since the beginning of the 2018 cycle, the USMNT has played 62 home matches at 28 venues, but 10 of those venues have hosted three or more times. The USSF doesn’t have control over which venues the USMNT will play their Gold Cup and Nation League Finals matches, but it does with friendlies, World Cup Qualifiers, and all home Nations League matches. 

During the Gregg Berhalter era (yes, I am counting the six-ish months when Anthony Hudson and B.J. Callaghan coached) the USMNT played the second- and third-longest consecutive home match stretches; 15 consecutive home matches in 2019 and 14 consecutive home matches in 2023. Both were years when the Gold Cup was played. The longest stretch was in 1994 when the USMNT hosted the World Cup and played 17 consecutive home matches. As we look forward to 2024 it is possible that the USMNT could reach 16 consecutive home matches played if they can play the maximum amount of Copa America matches and don’t schedule any road or neutral location matches during the September and October windows.

When posting on X (formerly Twitter) about the match at Geodis Park in Nashville, Tennessee, the USMNT account said, “Another stadium to cross off the list,” which appears to be a jab at the USMNT fans about venue selection. The recently scheduled January Camp match scheduled in San Antonio isn’t the first time the USMNT has played in this city. They beat Costa Rica 1-0 in 1988 at Alamo Stadium and in 2015 beat Mexico 2-0 at the Alamodome.

Breaking Down Recent USMNT Home Matches

Below are the US Cities in which the USMNT has played since the beginning of the 2018 cycle up through the group stage matches of Copa America 2024.

Kansas City, Kansas*5
Orlando, Florida5
Arlington, Texas4
Austin, Texas4
Cincinnati, Ohio4
Nashville, Tennessee4
Carson, California3
Paradise, Nevada3
St. Louis, Missouri3
St. Paul, Minnesota3

Below are the US States in which the USMNT has played since the beginning of the 2018 cycle through the Copa America 2024 group matches.


*All three 2021 Gold Cup Group Stage matches were played at the same location.

In the past, locations and venue selection for World Cup qualifiers haven’t been ideal to ensure a true home-field advantage for the USMNT (see the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica played at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey). The US Soccer Federation has started to rely on the same 7 or 8 venues for critical matches. But, with the USMNT not needing to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, USSF has a great opportunity to play in locations they have never played before, or at least in recent memory.

As it currently stands, the USMNT hasn’t played a match in 22 of the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) and there are seven states in which the USMNT hasn’t played a match in nearly 10 years. Indiana, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Kentucky are the four most populated states to never host a USMNT match, and very much overdue to get matches scheduled at those locations.

One of the seven locations that haven’t seen the USMNT play in over 10 years is Michigan, which has seen two of the largest crowds to watch International Club soccer, the largest attendance of 109,318 in 2014 when Manchester United defeated Real Madrid 3-1 and the 2nd largest attendance of 105,826 in 2016 saw Real Madrid defeat Chelsea 3-2 both were played at the University of Michigan Stadium aka “The Big House”.

Which State or Venue Should the USMNT Play at Next?

Here’s a look at 10 locations/venues where I would like to see the USMNT play over the next couple of cycles. There are some challenges in getting matches scheduled in certain states and venues due to the playing surface not being grass or the venue not being the required size, which is the case in many of the NCAA football fields. 

The below graphic shows the regions where the USMNT has played or already scheduled  457 home matches, up through the Copa America 2024 group stage.


Protective Stadium Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham Legion FC – USL Championship & UAB Blazers – NCAA Football
Capacity – 47,100


Under the management of Bruce Arena, the USMNT played three matches in Alabama during the 2002 and 2006 cycles, but haven’t returned in almost 18 years. 

Last three Matches played in Alabama

March 30, 2005 – 2-0 win vs Guatemala – Birmingham, Alabama – Legion Field – World Cup Qualifier

March 10, 2002 – 1-0 win vs Ecuador – Birmingham, Alabama – Legion Field – Friendly

March 12, 2000 – 1-1 draw vs Tunisia – Birmingham, Alabama – Legion Field – Friendly


War Memorial Stadium – Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock Rangers – USL2 & Secondary Home of Arkansas Razorbacks – NCAA Football
Capacity – 54,120

WholeHogSports - In UA's view, War Memorial in need of $10M update

Neither the US Men’s nor Women’s National teams have played a soccer match in the state of Arkansas. Another option could be to play at the recently announced expansion USL Championship team to be located in Northwest Arkansas. 

Last three Matches played in Arkansas

No matches played


New Aloha Stadium (2033 – 2038) – Honolulu, Hawaii
University of Hawaii – NCAA Football
Capacity – Expected 25,000 – 30,000


With a new Aloha Stadium expected to be built and hopefully finished in the next 10 years, playing a match in Hawaii seems more likely an option for the USMNT in the future, the perfect opportunity for a January camp location.

Back in 2015, the USWNT had a scheduled victory tour match at the current Aloha Stadium but was canceled on the day of the match because the artificial turf surface at the stadium was deemed unplayable. 

Last three Matches played in Hawaii

No matches played


Albertsons Stadium – Boise, Idaho
Boise State University – NCAA Football
Capacity – 36,387

Neither the USMNT nor the USWNT has ever played a match in Idaho, or any of the other surrounding states of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. However, in 2015 a friendly match was scheduled at the home of Boise State University at Albertsons Stadium, which is known for its blue surface, aka “Smurf Turf.”  The Basque Soccer Friendly featured Athletic Bilbao of La Liga against Club Tijuana of Liga MX in front of a crowd of 21,948 with Athletic Bilbao winning 2–0.   

Last three Matches played in Idaho

No matches played


Future – Indy Eleven Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana
Indy Eleven – USL Championship
Capacity – 20,000


The senior USMNT has never played in the state of Indiana. The B Team, however, has played Olympic qualifying matches there for the 1988 and 1992 Olympics, as well as the 1987 Pan American Games, with games not counting as full international caps

Last three Matches played in Indiana

May 10, 1992 – 3-1 win vs Canada – Bloomington, Indiana – Bill Armstrong Stadium – Olympic Qualifying 

August 15, 1987 – 0-2 loss vs Argentina – Indianapolis, IN – Kuntz Memorial Soccer Stadium- Pan American Games

May 25, 1987 – 4-1 win vs El Salvador – Indianapolis, IN – Kuntz Memorial Soccer Stadium – Olympic Qualifying


Lynn Family Stadium – Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville City FC – USL Championship
Capacity – 11,700 (Expandable to 15,304)

It was nearly a full capacity crowd at Lynn Family Stadium Saturday on a hot evening as LouCity took on visiting Memphis. The boys in purple won, 3-0. June 12, 2021

Louisville City FC has been one of the more successful and popular USL teams in recent seasons and has an amazing fan base. This spurred the building of their soccer stadium in 2018. It is a logical location for a USMNT match. 

Last three Matches played in Kentucky

No matches played

New York City

Future – New York City FC – Bronx, New York
New York City FC – MLS Team
Capacity – 25,000

The US Men’s National Team hasn’t played in the New York City area in nearly 40 years, even though they have played matches at the home stadium of the New York Red Bulls which is in New Jersey. 

Last three Matches played in New York City Area

November 30, 1984 – 0-0 draw vs Ecuador – Hempstead, New York – Hofstra Stadium– Friendly

September 15, 1968 – 3-3 draw vs Israel – Bronx, New York – Yankee Stadium – Friendly

May 27, 1964 – 0-10 loss vs England – Randall’s Island, New York – Downing Stadium – Friendly

New York (Upstate)

Future – Buffalo Bills stadium (2026) – Orchard Park, New York
Buffalo Bills – NFL Team
Capacity – 62,000

Buffalo Bills unveil first design images of their new $1.4 billion stadium

The US Men’s National Team has never played in Upstate New York and with the new stadium being built for the Buffalo Bills — expected to be finished sometime in 2026 — the area would have a good venue for the USMNT to play.

Last three Matches played in Update New York

No matches played

New Mexico

Proposed – New Mexico United Stadium – Albuquerque, New Mexico
New Mexico United – USL Championship
Capacity – 12,000

Another stadium option for the USMNT in New Mexico would be University Stadium also in Albuquerque, which had a seating capacity of over 30,000, however the overall attendance in the only three matches played there wasn’t impressive.

Last three Matches played in New Mexico

March 19, 2005 – 1-0 win vs Honduras – Albuquerque, New Mexico – University Stadium – Friendly

April 30, 1994 – 0-2 loss vs Chile – Albuquerque, New Mexico – University Stadium – Friendly

June 7, 1988 – 0-1 loss vs Ecuador – Albuquerque, New Mexico – University Stadium – Friendly (Clasico International Cup)


Providence Park – Portland Oregon
Portland Timbers – MLS
Capacity – 25,218

It’s been 10 years since the USMNT has played in Oregon and with the Pacific Northwest being a soccer-crazed region, is time for the USMNT to return, while the stadium is currently using field turf they would have to make the necessary accommodations to support a grass service.

Last three Matches played in Oregon

July 9, 2013 – 6-1 win vs Belize – Portland, Oregon – Jeld-Wen Field – Gold Cup-Group Stage

May 24, 1998 – 2-0 win vs Kuwait – Portland, Oregon – Civic Stadium – Friendly

September 7, 1997 – 1-0 win vs Costa Rica Portland, Oregon – Civic Stadium – World Cup Qualifier

Other venues and locations considered were Paladin Stadium at Furman University in South Carolina, Memphis 901 FC recently announced a new 10,000-seat stadium to be built in Memphis, Tennessee in the next several years, and Riccardo Silva Stadium home of the USL Championship team Miami FC. Louisiana is another state which has two venues, the Tad Gormley Stadium and the Superdome both of which the US Women’s National Team has played at in the past and could be suitable options for the USMNT in the future.

What are the next and necessary steps for the US Soccer Federation?

With so many high-profile soccer tournaments to be played in the United States over the next six years, this is a great opportunity for the USSF to expand its reach and bring the USMNT to places it’s never been. As it relates to attendance and ticket pricing, the USSF needs to figure out the formula that would allow for maximum capacity at all home matches while allowing for the federation to bring in the necessary revenue desired. Here’s hoping that the United States Soccer Federation sees it the same way and acts accordingly. 

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