MILESTONE YEAR: USMNT Reflections on a Memorable 2021 Campaign

Young USMNT’s success in 2021 goes far beyond just lifting two trophies

When U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter took the reins of the program in 2018, he began with a mission statement, a challenge, and a golden opportunity all wrapped into one: 


To change the way the world views American soccer.


With the project nearly three years off the ground, the picture emerging from 2021 is certainly making the soccer community see things a little differently. 


Win(ing) Record


Utilizing the youngest talent pool in generations, the USMNT has amassed a 16-2-3 record in 2021. The total number of victories equals the high mark set by the team in 2013, and with one more match on the schedule - Dec. 18 vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina - this emerging group has the chance to make U.S. Soccer history. 


One Rival, Two Rosters, Two Titles


Two of those victories were earned in tournament finals and both in stunning fashion.  


Facing its archrivals and perennial nemesis Mexico twice on the championship stage, the young USMNT deployed two almost completely different rosters and achieved the same result. 


Utilizing a stable of European club-based talent, the U.S. first captured the inaugural Concacaf Nations League after twice coming from behind to defeat Mexico 3-2 in a match at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver that required 30 minutes of extra time, to determine a winner.  

Switching to a domestic club-based lineup, the USMNT once again emerged victorious and was crowned champion of the Concacaf Gold Cup for the seventh time after defeating El Tri 1-0 in extra time on Miles Robinson’s 117th-minute header before a sold-out crowd of 61,514 fans at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.  


Rising in the Rankings



Those victories propelled the USMNT to the top 10 in the FIFA World Rankings for the first time since 2006. With two trophies in hand, the U.S. made a double-digit rise in the August rankings, reaching 10th position. Currently No. 12 in the world, the United States is guaranteed to finish as the highest-ranked team in Concacaf for the first time since 2013. 



Travelling the Road to the World Cup



Of course, the view of the program can only truly change if the U.S. qualifies for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Through eight matches of the Concacaf 14-game final round Octagonal, the team is traveling the right road. Compiling a 4-1-3 record, the USA holds second place in the standings. The top three teams earn an automatic berth to Qatar in November 2022.  

At 22 years, 61 days, the USMNT Starting XI on Oct. 13 against Costa Rica was the youngest ever fielded in World Cup Qualifying

Remarkably, the USMNT has achieved this place utilizing a group largely inexperienced in World Cup Qualifying. In addition to 26 players already earning their first appearance in a World Cup Qualifier, Berhalter has twice sent out starting lineups that were the youngest ever for the United States in a qualifier. 


The average age of the USMNT Starting XI through 21 matches this year comes in at 23 years, 345 days. The USMNT lineup averaged 24 years or younger in 19 of those contests.


Average Age of 2021 USMNT Starting XI

Starting XI Average Age










Youngest Starting XI

Oldest Starting XI

22 years, 61 days – Oct. 13 vs. Costa Rica

25 years, 361 days – July 11 vs. Haiti




Goals, Goals, Goals…

21 games played, 21 different goal scorers. If that’s not remarkable enough, the 45 goals piled in by USMNT attackers is tied for second-most in a calendar year. Brenden Aaronson and Sebastian Lletget lead the tallies with four each. Six different defenders added their name to a scoresheet, while 13 players scored multiple times overall. 

Go Deeper