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USMNT is World Cup bound!

Updated: Apr 2, 2022

3,123 days. Tyler Adams reminded us of that number on Twitter just moments after the game ended. It had been 3,123 days since the #USMNT last qualified for the World Cup. More than 8.5 years. A new generation of US soccer fans will be introduced to the largest worldwide sporting event in Qatar.

235 days. That's how long until Matchday 1 begins. And I cannot wait!

It was exactly this great sporting event that really introduced me to 'the beautiful game' almost 12 years ago. I was 29 when the US and the rest of the competitors took part in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. I had spent the majority of my life as a sports fan without soccer (football). It wasn't a big sport where I grew up in the rural midwest. I fondly remember watching the 99ers (USWNT) take down the World Cup on US soil, but to be honest that event came and went.

2010 was different. I remember exactly where I was, in a new town with my wife and our first child. My parents came for a long visit that just happened to coincide with the group stage of that World Cup. My dad and I sat outside in our 3-season porch, watched the US games and shared beverages and stories. It was quality time that we hadn't had in some years. To be honest, my dad's never been a huge sports fan. But he knows it's my passion and he uses that knowledge to connect with me. So there we sat each game with the din of the vuvuzelas in the background, enjoying each others' company and bonding over the games.

Game 1: June 12, 2010. US falls down very early, but proves tougher than expected for the favored English and excitement builds that we could get out of the group stage as the game finishes a draw.

US 1 - England 1.

Game 2: June 18, 2010. Slovenia jumps out to an early 2-0 lead and the excitement of that first draw quickly turns to worry. But Landon Donovan strikes early in the second half to provide hope. And in the 82nd minute, one of the most important goals of that tournament came when Michael Bradley chipped the keeper to equalize the game at 2-2. It looked as if Mo Edu had won it for us late, but his goal was disallowed. The point was huge though and we knew we controlled our fate going into the final group stage game.

US 2 - Slovenia 2.

Game 3: June 23, 2010. The game was played at the same time as the England - Slovenia game. If England won (they were favored), it would take a win for the US to advance to the knockout stage. The US gave up the best chance early again but the Algerian shot banged off the cross-bar! Algeria had only allowed 1 goal through their first 2 games. And I remember the US largely dominating play but unable to find the elusive goal. After 90 minutes, it was still 0-0, a scoreline that would see both teams go home, as England led 1-0 in their game (Slovenia would get the second spot with 4 points).

Then came "The Landon Donovan Goal". Goalkeeper Tim Howard started a counter-attack with a great throw to Donovan who dribbled up the pitch, passed to Jozy Altidore just outside the box, who then crossed to an open Clint Dempsey. With the Algerian keeper closing in Dempsey's shot was blocked... but Donovan never stopped moving and fired the rebound into the open net for a goal! My dad and I screamed and jumped out of our chairs and into an embrace.

US 1 - Algeria 0.

The USMNT was going onto the Round of 16!

The US would lose to Ghana in the Round of 16, 2-1 in extra time (why does it always have to be Ghana?). But getting out of the group stage was an accomplishment and one to be celebrated.

That World Cup was an experience for me that's difficult to fully explain. If you've experienced something like that you know. And that's my hope for some of you in 2022 who maybe haven't before... or want to rekindle memories from the past while creating new ones. The World Cup can and will do that for you. And I hope we get to experience a great run in Qatar in Nov-Dec.

This 2022 version of the USMNT is the start (most believe) of a potential golden generation for the US. Many have pointed towards 2026 as our best chance to make a deep run. We will be tri-hosts along with Canada and Mexico and the core of our team will all be in the middle of their primes. After the epic failure to miss qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, there was a lot of pressure on this team to make sure they got back to the 2022 version... and they did. It wasn't always beautiful or easy but they got the job done.

I can't wait to create some more memories with this version of the World Cup.. the early winter edition... in Qatar.

Editor's Note: SoccerPicksClub was 13-5 +8.11 units during the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers (final octagonal stage).

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Nate - SoccerPicksClub

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