Nov 21, 2022 - Sports

U.S. men's soccer sends a golden generation to the World Cup

Data: Transfermarkt; Infographic: Thomas Oide and Maura Losch/Axios
Data: Transfermarkt; Infographic: Thomas Oide and Maura Losch/Axios

The USMNT has the second-youngest roster in Qatar. It also has, on paper at least, perhaps the most talented squad in its history.

By the numbers: According to Transfermarkt, which tracks the market value of soccer players globally, this year's USMNT squad has a total value of $288.4 million, more than double the value of the 2010 and 2014 rosters combined.

Between the lines: Only one player on the 2010 and 2014 rosters went into a World Cup worth eight figures: Tim Howard in 2010 ($10.4 million). The 2022 team has 11 such players, all of whom are under the age of 25:

  • Christian Pulisic, Chelsea ($38.5 million)
  • Gio Reyna, Borussia Dortmund ($36.4 million)
  • Brenden Aaronson, Leeds United ($31.2 million)
  • Weston McKennie, Juventus ($21.8 million)
  • Yunus Musah, Valencia ($20.8 million)
  • Tyler Adams, Leeds United ($17.6 million)
  • Sergiño Dest, AC Milan ($16.6 million)
  • Joe Scally, Borussia Monchengladbach ($12.4 million)
  • Tim Weah, Lille ($12.4 million)
  • Josh Sargent, Norwich City ($12.4 million)
  • Antonee Robinson, Fulham ($10.4 million)

The big picture: Many of these players went through the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, which was launched 15 years ago to fix American soccer development.

  • They're the byproducts of an overhauled youth system, and the faces of U.S. Soccer's present — and future.
  • "It's no coincidence," head coach Gregg Berhalter said recently, "that all of a sudden we have elite players around the world."

Yes, but: The market value of top American talent still pales in comparison to global stars like France's Kylian Mbappe ($166.4 million), Spain's Pedri ($104 million) and England's Harry Kane ($93.6 million).

The bottom line: The USMNT has long been defined by a "greater than the sum of its parts" identity. The 2022 squad, with its youth and talent, has a chance to break that mold.

Captain America ... Adams, 23, will captain the USMNT in Qatar after winning a vote among teammates. Pulisic, 24, and Nashville defender Walker Zimmerman, 29, were also considered.

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