After years of controversy around its location, the 2022 World Cup is underway in Qatar.
There have been allegations of payoffs to FIFA members to earn the bid, criticism of Qatar's laws against women and LGBTQ individuals, the deaths of migrants used to build the sparkling new stadiums and even last-second controversy over beer sales. The tournament was also moved from its usual summer timeframe to the holiday season to avoid Qatar's intensely hot weather.
But on the field, the best players in the world -- such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar -- are ready to go. And the U.S. is back with a hungry, young team after failing to qualify for the last World Cup.
Team USA looks forward to 2026: ‘Really bright’ future
Members of Team USA are already looking ahead to 2026, when North America will host the next World Cup.
“The future’s really bright for this team,” defender Walker Zimmerman said on “Good Morning America” on Monday.
He added, “So many players from different backgrounds that creates a really unique mix of players. To have the youth that we have -- to have young players playing at high-level teams, we’re going to be coming back stronger in 2026.”
There were highs and lows in Qatar, he said, but it was the honor of a lifetime to play in the World Cup.
Midfielder Kellyn Acosta agreed, saying playing in Qatar had been a “childhood dream become a reality.”
Both said they’d watched footage of fans cheering them back on in the USA. “We appreciate the support,” Acosta said.
But, Zimmerman said, it’ll be nice to be on “home soil” in 2026.
Argentina heads to round of 8 after defeating Australia
Argentina is headed to the round of 8 after defeating Australia 2-1 in the knockout round.
The win sends Argentina to a quarterfinal match with the Netherlands on Friday. Whichever team wins will proceed to the semifinals.
US defeated by Netherlands 3-1, out of the World Cup
The U.S. is out of the World Cup after losing 3-1 to the Netherlands in Saturday's knockout round match.
U.S. player Haji Wright's goal in the second half was not enough to hand the team a win. The Netherlands will now move on to the final eight.
Argentina and Australia will face off later Saturday. The winner of that match will play against the Netherlands in the final eight.
Netherlands leads US 2-0 at halftime mark
At the halftime mark, the Netherlands leads the U.S. 2-0 in the knockout round match.
The winner of the match will move on to the final eight. The loser will go home.
US-Netherlands kicks off knockout round Saturday
American sports fans are used to watching big college football games on the first Saturday of December, but international football will be on the menu this year.
The U.S. will take the field for a knockout round match against the Netherlands on Saturday at 10 a.m. It's simple: win and you move on to the final eight, lose and you go home. There will be no draws like the group stage.
The best news for the U.S. is that Christian Pulisic has been cleared to play and will likely start against the Dutch, who are ranked eighth in the FIFA world rankings. They will need Pulisic to anchor the team up front.
Incidentally, the U.S. player who set up Pulisic for the game-winning goal against Iran, Sergino Dest, was born and raised in the Netherlands. His father, however, is from Brooklyn, New York, and he chose to side with the Americans over the Dutch several years ago.
It won't be easy for the U.S. to advance though. The Dutch are given a 66% chance to win, according to FiveThirtyEight's match predictor, and the tandem of forward Cody Gakpo and midfielder Frenkie de Jong has been formidable.
The second match on Saturday (2 p.m., Fox) will be Australia against Argentina. The Argentinians, led by the legendary Lionel Messi, will be a big favorite. (In fact, FiveThirtyEight gives them an 83% chance of winning, tied for the largest of any round of 16 game.) The winner will face the winner of USA-Netherlands next week.