USMNT - Road to World Cup - Qatar

Paul Arriola insists USMNT will qualify for the World Cup

Lizzy Becherano
Paul Arriola is confident the USMNT will make it to the 2022 World Cup
Paul Arriola is confident the USMNT will make it to the 2022 World Cup / John Dorton/ISI Photos/GettyImages

The United States men’s national team is on the verge of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and Paul Arriola is confidence they will make it to Qatar after surprisingly missing out in 2018.

The team currently sits second in the Concacaf table with 21 points as they enter the final round of qualifiers - the top three will automatically go to the World Cup. The international window kicks off on Thursday as the USMNT travel to Mexico City for the daunting face off at the Azteca stadium before hosting Panama and confronting Costa Rica abroad. 

USA go into the last matches without some of their key players as Weston McKennie, Sergino Dest, Matt Turner and Brenden Aaronson are all out with injuries. But the energy remains high. 

“We're a group that's very confident in ourselves, in our own ability, and the way that everything that is the national team right now, we feel very confident that we will qualify,” FC Dallas winger Paul Arriola told reporters. 

“But for us it's not even just about qualifying, it's about winning games, changing the way people see the US, and at the same time, I think this game coming up against Mexico is a great opportunity for us to go out there and show that we're continuously growing collectively and getting better as a nation. And I don't sense any fear within the group.”

After missing out on the 2018 World Cup, the USMNT’s first absence in the international tournament since 1986, expectations are high. Arriola was present during that fateful qualifying run, reminiscing on the feelings before going on to point out the differences this time around. 

“If I'm not wrong, I think we ended up playing a 5-2-3 [formation] to start the game. And it was a heavy atmosphere, it was very, very tough. I remember seeing the small amount of US fans that were all the way at the very, very top,” recalled Arriola, who also visited Azteca frequently during his Liga MX career with Club Tijuana.

“I remember the mentality was, ‘let's try and get whatever we can from this game.’ In comparison to that, I think now we're going down there to win. And that's a different mentality. And that's something that I think we truly believe that we can do, is to harm this Mexico side and put ourselves at the best position possible to win the following games.”

The USMNT can qualify to the World Cup with various different scenarios, but two victories from the upcoming three-match run would be the safest path to a guaranteed spot.