USMNT World Cup 2022 draw scenarios, simulations: Examining best, worst outcomes for Pulisic and U.S. soccer

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The United States men’s national team will be at the 2022 World Cup and we won’t have to wait long to see who they will play come this winter. The draw for the 32-team tournament is on Friday in Doha, and the U.S. is slotted in Pot 2. We have you covered with how the World Cup draw works here, but in short, this means they’ll get a team from the remaining three pots, none of which can be from Concacaf. Only teams from Europe can be in the same group with a maximum of two, otherwise it will be four teams from four different regions. 

So ahead of the draw, let’s have a fun look at who the USMNT would want and who they should hope to avoid, but let’s start with three separate group simulations:

Simulation draw 1

United States
Saudi Arabia

Analysis: I think the U.S. would take this scenario, knowing that they can get four-to-six points from Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. France is a sure-fire loss, one would think, as the reigning champs have reloaded once again. But this is a draw any USMNT fan should be thrilled with.

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Simulation draw 2

United States

Analysis: Yikes. Spain will beat you to death with possession with their young, stellar talent. Then you have Robert Lewandowski who could feast on Gregg Berhalter’s defensive unit, and lastly their old foe Ghana. I do think this team could get out of a group like this, but it would be by a hair at most. A pretty tough draw with nothing feeling like a certain victory.

Simulation draw 3

United States

Analysis: A similar draw to the second one, except you’ve got to worry about Lionel Messi and red-hot Argentina. While Serbia might not be the strongest team, they do have some real quality with Dušan Tadić, Aleksandar Mitrović, Dušan Vlahović and Luka Jović. It would be hard to see the U.S. getting out of this one.

The dream scenario

Qatar: Take on the hosts, by far the worst team in Pot 1, and potentially play in the opener? Heck yes. Look, they have some real quality, but they aren’t France or Brazil. The U.S. would love to get a team they have recently played in the Concacaf Gold Cup.

Tunisia: A decent African team but probably the one you want to face if you had to pick one. They have some players in attack but the U.S. would be the strong favorite to win a game like this. 

Wales/Scotland/Ukraine: Ideally, it would be nice to avoid a team from Europe, and getting a team like New Zealand would be stellar, but there’s a decent chance they aren’t making it through the playoff. So getting a European side that has still yet to qualify would be a solid draw. The preference would be Scotland, while Wales and Ukraine would be tricky opposition. 

Projection: Second place in the group and through to the round of 16. 

The nightmare scenario

France: The reigning World Cup champs, the favorites to win it again, the team with Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema and so much talent your head will explode. It would likely be a nightmare for the American back line, and they will be hoping they don’t get the French on Friday. It would be over by halftime.

Senegal: Don’t scoff at Senegal. They have three superstars, all of which would easily start for this U.S. team and most national teams around the world. Winger Sadio Mane (Liverpool), center back Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli) and goalkeeper Edouard Mendy (Chelsea) are top-tier talents. They are the reigning champions of Africa and are the last team from that region you would want to face.

Ecuador: Gustavo Alfaro has done an amazing job with Ecuador, taking them from outsiders to qualification. They didn’t win any of their last four games in qualifying yet still got in pretty comfortably. They aren’t loaded, but they have a physicality about them, a boom-or-bust determination in them that is inspiring, and they are by far the team from Pot 4 you want to avoid.

Projection: Likely out in the group stage. Best-case scenario is four points max, likely three, and sweating out their tournament lives.

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