As if the week leading up to Thanksgiving wasn’t stressful enough, American soccer fans are scrambling to fit the country’s biggest soccer game in nearly a decade into their Mondays.
With Team USA’s World Cup opener against Wales scheduled for 2 p.m. Others not so fortunate will be looking for ways to watch Fox Sports and Telemundo coverage from Qatar on their phones and computers.
For many, it will mark a new experience for the growing number of soccer fans in the US. The team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, considered one of the biggest disappointments in USMNT history, and the World Cup 2014 in Brazil was played at times convenient for the American public, given the shared time zones.
Since then, soccer has surpassed hockey to become the fourth most-watched sport among Americans, who have grown accustomed to watching European games on weekend mornings.
And increasingly, those matches are played by Americans: Juventus’ Weston McKennie, Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic or Leeds United’s Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson, not to mention Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner and Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna.
The sudden glut of American soccer talent has yet to translate into World Cup success, but it has given rise to some rumors that the country finally has its ‘Golden Generation’ in world sport.
“I think it can be, and I’m saying that because, I’m sure other people will say that too, but because of the talent and the youth of the National Team,” former USMNT star DaMarcus Beasley told The Athletic. “And then obviously, before 2026, (the World Cup) is in the United States, everything is in line to be that Golden Generation.”
Forward Christian Pulisic of the United States, left, takes part in an official training session on the eve of the World Cup Group B soccer match between the United States and Wales.
Weston McKennie of the United States reacts during the United States training and press conference at Al Gharafa SC Stadium
United States goalkeeper Matt Turner takes part in a training session at the Al Gharafa SC Stadium in Doha on Sunday, November.
US coach Gregg Berhalter and Tyler Adams, 23, the youngest US World Cup captain since 1950
At the center of the American youth movement is Adams, who was named captain at the rare age of 23 to become the youngest in this year’s tournament and the youngest American in exhibition soccer since Walter Bahr in 1950. .
‘I want to be a winner. First of all, I’m very competitive,” Adams said after USA coach Gregg Berhalter’s announcement on Sunday. ‘I want to hold the guys around me to the same standard. I don’t want to lose and then have to point fingers and say, “You let me down today.” I just want to make sure everyone is on the same page as far as intensity, mindset, no frustration: everyone buys into the same thing. And, yes, I think I’ve been doing that since I was young.
Adams was elected captain in a vote of around 35 players held in September and announced on the eve of the national team’s opening match of the tournament against Wales.
He will become the first African American to wear the United States armband during a World Cup. Earnie Stewart, then 33 and the son of an African-American military man, captained the United States in the 2002 opener against Portugal due to a strained right quadriceps muscle by Claudio Reyna.
“For the last three and a half years, we’ve been working with the leadership council,” Berhalter said of a group that included Adams, Pulisic, McKennie and Walker Zimmerman. ‘We asked them, well, what do you want to do for the World Cup? And they thought it would be better to have a captain named for the World Cup.
The last of 32 captains announced for this year’s tournament, Adams is only the second under 30. England striker Harry Kane is 29 years old and has captained the Three Lions since the 2018 World Cup, when he was 24.
Adams, from Wappinger, New York, has captained the national team nine times previously, including seven wins, one loss and one tie.
Berhalter had rotated the bracelet since he was hired in December 2018. Pulisic captained the Americans 11 times and Zimmerman six times. Adams captained seven of 14 World Cup qualifiers, Pulisic four and Zimmerman three.
‘Coming to the national team, you are a rookie, right? You don’t want to step on anybody’s toes,” Adams said. “You want to get in, you want to do your job, and while that hasn’t changed now compared to when I first made the national team, now I’m the guy people trust when they need to communicate with Greg.” and something has to be said.
Different players captained the United States national team to every game in 1950. Bahr was 23 years, 3 months, and 2 days old for the 5-2 loss to Chile on July 2, 1950. Adams will be 23 years, 9 months, 8 days on Monday.
Ed McIlvenny (25) wore the bracelet in the famous 1-0 draw against England in Belo Horizonte and Harry Keough (22) in the opening defeat to Spain.
Adams made his national team debut in November 2017 and has made 32 international appearances. He debuted with Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls in 2015, moving to RB Leipzig in 2019 and Leeds in the offseason.
“Tyler is a guy who’s just mature beyond his years, and you know that from the moment you start talking to him,” Berhalter said. ‘He’s a guy that his teammates know exactly what they’re going to get out of him. They know that he is going to go out on the field and compete. They know he’s going to be thinking about the game. They know that he will be in the details of the game, not just as a competitor, he is also a strategist. And I think that helps the group because he calms people down and he’s a guy that people root for.
Past World Cup captains included 24-year-old Mike Windischmann in 1990, 25-year-old Tony Meola in 1994, 37-year-old Thomas Dooley in 1998, 28-year-old Reyna in 2002 and Reyna again in 2006, 31 Carlos Bocanegra, of 31 years old, in 2010 and Clint Dempsey, 31 years old, in 2014.
“We’re not a bunch of guys that’s like, oh, I want to be captain,” McKennie said Saturday. ‘Who has it, he has it. The mission remains the same. The goal remains the same, and we just need all 26 players, regardless of role, to be on the same page and have the same role at the end of the day, which is to compete and win games.”