FIFA Men's World Cup
USMNT fans should believe — because this team certainly does
FIFA Men's World Cup

USMNT fans should believe — because this team certainly does

Updated Dec. 3, 2022 9:23 a.m. ET

AL RAYYAN, Qatar — As you watch the United States play the Netherlands on Saturday morning (10 a.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports App), sitting on your couch with optional extras such as breakfast or a jersey or a flag, there is only one absolute must: your screaming voice.

Just know this. Strange as it sounds, the American players can hear you. Or they think they can, at least, which pretty much amounts to the same thing. So get loud.

It doesn't make logical sense that Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Tim Weah and whichever American is tested in the moment will be able to channel the noise and patriotic fervor from Little Rock or Hollywood or Oneonta or Bismarck, but what the heck. 

It is the World Cup and the usual rules don't apply, whether in relation to soccer or sound dynamics or geography or whatever. Shout, shriek, whistle, cry, cheer — and don't stop.


"(We) are absolutely channeling it," team captain Adams told me Friday. "The support from the U.S. has been a bit surreal. That was one of our goals coming into the tournament. The farther we go, the more support we get. When we can play an attractive style and fight and represent the county in the right way, you're going to gather that support."

Netherlands-U.S. preview

Maurice Edu, Clint Dempsey and Stu Holden preview the United States' matchup against the Netherlands.

Here you go then, United States men's team. You've ticked the boxes. You've survived and advanced. You've achieved the primary objective. And you've given a country back home that badly wanted to fall in love with you, a reason to actually do so.

You've gotten this far. You've built a platform for yourselves. Now, what are you going to do with it?

Saturday's date with the Dutch is a chance to super-charge everything.

"We felt a responsibility to use this World Cup to create momentum in Unites States behind soccer," coach Gregg Berhalter said. "That's why we want to keep going, we want to keep doing well and make the country proud."

It is a chance to turn a very good tournament into a resoundingly great one. To become household names in America, not just in soccer-centric households but also ones where the beautiful game competes with other sports for a share of the love.

To create a memory to add to the courageous tie against England and the emotional scenes in the win over Iran and to Weah's goal against Wales and, of course, Pulisic's campaign-changing intervention Tuesday, even though it meant getting belted in the unmentionables.

Christian Pulisic provides a status update

Christian Pulisic talks with Jenny Taft about his injury in the win over Iran and his status for Saturday's game.

Having survived that low blow, there shouldn't be any more of them delivered to the Americans. They're on a kind of free roll now. Sure, a late equalizer that denies them a famous win against the orange-clad Dutch would be painful, as would — dare we whisper it — the stomach-curdling suddenness of a penalty shootout, should things go so deep, still level.

But there's a match to be played rather than a premature ride home, nursing only thoughts of what might have been. Half the teams at this World Cup depart at essentially the same time and not one of them does so without regret. 

Most of the 16 remaining entering Saturday's knockout round, with a couple of exceptions, must first swallow their relief at still being here before thinking of anything grander.

Yet already American thoughts have shifted to just what they want from this joyride. Group B was a nervous one, full of tension and thin edges. Now comes the chance to go get the bag.

To not just show up against the Dutch but to show out. To attack a nation that covets and cherishes attacking voetbal and wishes its current side did more of it. To play with them as equals.

And to beat them.

"The USA has demonstrated that it has an excellent team. I would even say one of the best teams," Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal said. "A team that is fine-tuned, a very tough match."

Alexi Lalas drops a BOLD take ahead of the knockout stage

Alexi Lalas breaks down why he has the USMNT beating Lionel Messi and Argentina if they were to face off in the knockout stage.

Winning against a three-time World Cup finalist will be no easy task. It never is, not at the World Cup. 

But now is the time. The USA has a résumé of good, honest, solid performances at this and previous World Cups. Of attaining a par score. We've been here before, to the round of 16 — advancing to the final eight in 2002 (which might have been the semifinals if VAR had existed) and bowing out at this stage in 2010 and 2014.

Time for a big one that blows everyone's mind. Time for an upset, though let this be said, the USA is the most popular tip for a shock result among the international media.

Time to go bold and prove the USA belongs not at the fringes of elite soccer but right in the big, beating heart of it.

Time to ponder, just for a moment, that a win potentially sets up a meeting with Lionel Messi and Argentina in the quarters on Friday.

Not in four years, when the stars will align, and we will stage the tournament for a second time, along with Canada and Mexico, and all the interest that comes with hosting will be there.

Not in 2034, when who knows, there might be four Americans playing on Real Madrid and when Major League Soccer could be one of the world's top six leagues.

Not then. Now.

Timothy Weah's goal against Wales

Check out every view of the first USMNT goal of the 2022 World Cup.

With this bunch of young players who play so hard for each other and are so likeable that you wonder if they're too nice to be great, until you realize that the best international teams are the ones who come together like brothers.

And with a guy named Gregg, who didn't come with a glittering international résumé, but who knows tactics better than the socceristas on Twitter who try to armchair quarterback. And who understands Americans and understands players and understands how to get the best from these young men.

He'll be challenging them, in these waning hours before destiny awaits. He'll be telling them the magnitude of the opportunity, striving to get them feeling like lions without losing their cool.

Now is your moment, he'll tell Pulisic, rising from a hospital bed to show his mettle. It is Adams' spotlight too, the world of soccer starting to properly appreciate his total package of off-field charm and on-field steel. It is a moment for everyone. 

For Tim Ream, 35 years young, charged with stifling the scoring phenomenon of the tournament: Cody Gakpo, who is big, aggressive and lethal in the box.

A moment for you, Matt Turner, to channel your inner Tim Howard and leap to the nation's goalkeeping rescue, should that be how things transpire.

It is the chance to be a hero. The chance to write their own story. The chance to change everything. 

The chance to make the future of American soccer … now.

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Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. You can subscribe to the daily newsletter here.


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