Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger are no strangers to World Cup success.
The two NWSL figures were part of the United States women’s national team squads that lifted FIFA World Cup trophies in 2015 and 2019. They played an integral role in the latter, cementing themselves as pivotal to the success of the USWNT.
But while the women’s team has experienced glory in the international tournament, the men’s counterpart has barely progressed beyond the group stage. Now, as the 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup approaches, Harris and Krieger gave their insight on how far the USMNT is from accomplishing the feat.
“I think we're getting there and I love to continue to hear all these young kids are going overseas so early to get that experience and to continue building their craft, but at what point can we start developing that here at home? I think that's an interesting question, but I don't know where we'll be,” said Harris on the latest episode of Football Americana.
“I think we are almost there. I think it still will take time. I think we continue to still elevate the MLS and get these guys in positions to compete at an early age and get them on the big stage quickly. I think we'll continue to see the benefits of it, but I believe in our guys. I'm hopeful every time. We support them always, through and through.
“And there's such a great pool to choose from at this point, better than we've ever had. So to me, I don't want any excuses. I just want to see them compete and believe in themselves and get to positions where they can actually win games and win group stages and believe in their process as well, so I'm hopeful for it. I've seen them play some incredible football, so if they continue to lean in on that, I'm hopeful we'll do really well at the World Cup.”
Krieger, on the other hand, pointed out the progress the men’s side has made in the last couple of years. After sitting out several editions of the tournament for lack of success in the Concacaf qualifiers, the USMNT is now front and center in Qatar, an achievement Krieger is not taking lightly.
“It's good to see how much they've grown in the short amount of time since we hadn't qualified for the World Cup four or five years ago, and now it's just completely different.”
But there is still work to be done. The USMNT will host several friendlies this summer to prepare for the international tournament in November, kicking off with Morocco at TQL Stadium on June 1.