Tyler Adams and co. passed their first World Cup test. Now the fun begins.
The U.S. Men's national team has made note this year that advancing out of the World Cup's group stage was just part one of their plans in Qatar. Now, they say World Cup glory is in the cards.
Putting aside the disappointment of 2018, Team America is pretty accustomed to reaching the World Cup, having done so seven times in eight chances since 1990. But their record on soccer's biggest stage leaves some to be desired. All-time, the American men are 9-8-19 in World Cup play.
And even when Team USA does advance beyond the group stage, the knockout rounds have been unforgiving.
Outside of a semifinal appearance at the 13-team tournament in 1930, the Americans have only reached the quarterfinals once, in 2002. In Qatar, the U.S. has a chance to break from this disappointing history stretching back 92-years:
1930: A 6-1 semifinals loss to Argentina
1934: A 7-1 round-of-16 loss to Italy
1994: A 1-0 round-of-16 loss to Brazil
2010: A 2-1 round-of-16 loss to Ghana
2014: A 2-1 round-of-16 loss to Belgium
There are reasons to be optimistic about this weekend's clash with the Netherlands in the round of 16. The USMNT went toe-to-toe with one of the tournament's favorites, England last week. They also showed their determination in a must-win victory over Iran during the pressure-packed group B finale.
Of course, there are reasons for pessimism as well, including a contused pelvis injury to star Christian Pulisic, and the U.S.'s tough time finding the back of the net. The Swift Kicks Podcast brought up that goal drought in their latest episode - making the argument that the chances are there, but the USMNT must convert them to make a deep run.
The US face the Netherlands on Saturday at 10am. Until then - check out the full version of the latest Swift Kicks Podcast episode.