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Winners & Losers

Adams the star as Reyna remains a mystery: USMNT winners, losers and ratings from the 2022 World Cup

13:00 GMT 05/12/2022
Reyna Adams Pulisic USMNT GFX
GOAL breaks down how each member of the USMNT fared throughout their four-game run in Qatar

After eight years of waiting, the U.S. men's national team's World Cup return is now over. It lasted 12 days, with four chaotic games crammed in.

Four very different games, mind you. There was the win over Iran, the draws with England and Wales, the loss to the Netherlands. Each had a vastly different ebb and flow, even if some themes remained.

One such theme was the USMNT dominating possession, something they did against all four opponents for long stretches, which would have been unfathomable just a few short years ago.

Another was the lack of goalscoring, which ultimately led to the USMNT's downfall. It was always seen as a weakness, but the team's inability to put the ball in the back of the net was the start of the team's undoing.

Overall, though, the World Cup provided plenty of reasons for optimism. Individuals stepped up, some more than others, and the team played in a way that we hadn't quite seen at a World Cup before.

With that said, GOAL breaks down the winners, losers and player ratings from the USMNT's time in Qatar:

  • Tyler Adams USMNT England World Cup 2022

    WINNER: Tyler Adams

    The USMNT's captain and their MVP. Adams was handed the armband ahead of the tournament and it seemed to give him superpowers. He was everything he always is but better, some kind of defensive midfield monster filled with the Super Solider Serum that makes the real Captain America who he is.

    Or is it Adams the real Captain America? He was the one doing it all, after all. From battling Jude Bellingham to defusing geopolitical tensions during a press conference, Adams represented himself and his country as well as he possibly could have.

    He ran more than any player in the tournament before the USMNT's untimely exit and, aside from one sequence against the Netherlands, didn't put a foot wrong the whole way.

    And some bonus Adams-related winners for you: The first is the USMNT, who now have a backbone and, if they want, a captain for years to come. The second is Leeds United, whose $24 million (£20m) deal to sign Adams from RB Leipzig now looks like a bargain, as big clubs may soon come in to take a closer look.

  • Gio Reyna USMNT World Cup warm-up

    LOSER: Gio Reyna

    Reyna's whole World Cup just had a cloud hanging over it, didn't it?

    From the opening game against Wales, in which he didn't feature, Reyna's name was always in the headlines but not on the teamsheet. He went to Qatar as seemingly a pillar of the USMNT, he left with just two substitute appearances totaling just 51 minutes.

    His lack of opportunities will go down as one of the USMNT's great mysteries, even if Berhalter's explanation makes perfect sense at face value. With Pulisic and Weah out wide, there was simply no room for Reyna. No conspiracy, no ulterior motive, just tactics.

    There will be those that don't believe that, spurred on by Eric Wynalda's claims of a rift. But there's no evidence that anything went wrong.

    Now, we'll have four years to see what happens with Reyna, a supremely talented player that just may not have had a position inside Berthalter's system.

    Maybe that changes on the road to the 2026 tournament, no matter who's coaching, but Reyna will likely look back at his first World Cup as a slight disappointment.

  • Tim Ream USMNT World Cup 2022

    WINNER: Tim Ream

    This will most certainly be the first and only World Cup Ream plays in. And, boy, was it worth the wait.

    What a performance this was from Ream, who turned back the clock in terms of his performances and provided veteran wisdom in equal measure. He spent World Cup qualifying away from the team and, seemingly, out of the picture. By the end of the World Cup, though, you could argue he was the USMNT's best player.

    What a moment this was for Ream, who started to tear up while talking to media after the Netherlands defeat. He made sure to appreciate every single moment, every training session, every game of a World Cup that, for some time, he thought he'd never see.

    Cheers to Ream for that. He's one of American soccer's good guys, a player that has never gotten the credit or admiration he's deserved. He's earned it now and he should look back on this tournament with pride.

  • Ricardo Pepi United States USMNT

    LOSER: Ricardo Pepi

    No, he wasn't on the roster, but you know he was watching. And he must have been thinking "What if?"

    As he watched the USMNT strikers fail to make an impression, Pepi must have been wondering if he could have been the guy that could have changed the trajectory of the tournament. Josh Sargent, Jesus Ferreira and Haji Wright were chosen ahead of him and none of them, ultimately, were able to really shine.

    That must have made it even more difficult for Pepi, the USMNT's leading scorer in qualifying. He'd been in good form before the squad was announced after essentially a wasted year that was too much to overcome.

    But, as the U.S. played hopeful cross after hopeful cross, Pepi must have thought he could have gotten on the end of at least one of them.

    Same for Jordan Pefok, who actually may have been the best fit for the USMNT's style of play.

  • Christian Pulisic USMNT

    WINNER: Christian Pulisic

    Prior to the knockout stages, Pulisic said he'd hoped that his big moment hadn't come. His heroic finish against Iran, he said, wasn't it. That was just the start, not the signature goal.

    It turned out that it was, in fact, the high point of his World Cup. His big moment will come at a later date, but that doesn't mean the ones he did provide weren't fantastic.

    He entered this tournament with all the pressure in the world as the face of an entire country, and he never shied away from it. He assisted Tim Weah's opener in the first match with a lovely pass before, as mentioned, scoring the winner against Iran.

    He put his body on the line to get that goal, spending time in the hospital for his efforts. An injury robbed him of a proper celebration, unfortunately.

    There will be more chances. He'll rue his miss against the Netherlands, but overall, Pulisic stood tall. He remains the face of U.S. Soccer and there will be brighter days ahead, for both the player and his team.

  • Matt Turner USMNT Wales World Cup 2022

    USMNT Ratings: Goalkeepers

    Matt Turner (8/10):

    Absolutely fantastic. More than vindicated Berhalter's choice to make him No.1 over Zack Steffen as he made several big saves.

    Sean Johnson (N/A):

    Didn't get on the field.

    Ethan Horvath (N/A):

    As above.

  • Sergino Dest USMNT Netherlands World Cup 2022

    Defenders

    Antonee Robinson (7/10):

    An absolute workhorse. Played nearly every minute and, largely, did well.

    Tim Ream (9/10):

    Nothing short of fantastic. Stepped into a team he wasn't involved with for over a year and took over. Made his World Cup moment worth the wait.

    Walker Zimmerman (6/10):

    That foul against Gareth Bale will surely bother him but, otherwise, Zimmerman was solid enough. Lack of pace was exposed at times against the Netherlands, but was good against both England and Wales.

    Sergino Dest (7/10):

    Made it until the last game before a defensive lapse got him. Prior to that, was the best he's ever looked. Plenty of reason for optimism that he can round out his game on the road to 2026.

    Cameron Carter-Vickers (8/10):

    Came in for the big game against Iran and was an absolute rock. Maybe should have started against the Netherlands too, but likely wouldn't have changed the result.

    Aaron Long (N/A):

    Didn't see the field despite entering the World Cup as a presumed starter.

    Shaq Moore (5/10):

    Was nervy, especially in the final moments against Iran. Several close calls but, ultimately, helped the U.S. close things out.

    DeAndre Yedlin (7/10):

    Assisted Wright's goal against the Netherlands and, overall, provided a steady presence in two substitute appearances.

    Joe Scally (N/A):

    Didn't see the field as Berhalter turned to Yedlin and Moore as fullback subs.

  • Musah

    Midfielders

    Tyler Adams (9/10):

    The USMNT's best player. Was truly a world-class central midfielder as the whole world watched him blossom into a superstar.

    Weston McKennie (8/10):

    Absolutely magnificent against England and, overall, pretty solid otherwise. Seemed to run out of gas by the end, though.

    Yunus Musah (7/10):

    Showed flashes of what makes him such a good future prospect. His ability to dribble is unreal and, even if there are parts of his game that need work, it was a solid enough World Cup debut.

    Kellyn Acosta (7/10):

    Used sparingly, but single-handedly saved the U.S. a point with that heroic foul on Bale. How important was that?

    Brenden Aaronson (7/10):

    The go-to subersub. Probably should have started a game or two. Always had his trademark energy to help close out games when needed.

    Luca de la Torre (N/A):

    Have to wonder how much fitness played a part in him not getting a single appearance. U.S. could have used his ability to hold the ball at several points.

    Cristian Roldan (N/A):

    Was always brought in as a vibes guy. Could the spot have been used on someone the U.S. would have actually used in midfield? Maybe.

  • Pulisic Weah USMNT Wales 2022

    Forwards

    Christian Pulisic (8/10):

    Contributed to two of the USMNT's three goals. Really handled the pressure well and put it all on the line in the final two games.

    Tim Weah (8/10):

    Justified the decision to start him with his pace and intelligence. Made so many good runs to unsettle defenses. What a moment the goal versus Wales was, too.

    Josh Sargent (6/10):

    Probably the best of the USMNT strikers. Hold up play was good and movement was solid. Wonder if he would have started against the Netherlands if healthy.

    Gio Reyna (5/10):

    Didn't play as much as anyone would have expected. Will be brighter days ahead, surely.

    Haji Wright (6/10):

    Got his goal against the Netherlands, which was a fair reward for his solid performance against England. Pressing wasn't great against Iran, though.

    Jesus Ferreira (5/10):

    Surprise starter against the Netherlands, but seemed overmatched. He's still young, though. Plenty of reasons to hold onto your Ferreira stock.

    Jordan Morris (6/10):

    Came on as a late substitute twice, but never really had time to impact anything.

  • Gregg Berhalter USMNT 2022

    Head coach

    Gregg Berhalter (7/10):

    The first-half tactics were almost always spot on, but the half-time adjustments tended to be spotty. Some questions over roster selection, too, but that's largely nitpicking.

    Overall, a good tournament that saw him help the U.S. go toe-to-toe and, at times, have control against two giants. Some sections of the fanbase will criticize, but you can't deny the progress made under his leadership.