U.S. captain Tyler Adams acknowledges American fans after World Cup elimination. (Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
If the young U.S. men’s national team wants to make an impact in the World Cup, team captain Tyler Adams says players need to develop and become much more mature to handle difficult knockout round matches.
The team will have another opportunity at the 2026 World Cup as the U.S. will co-host the event along with Mexico and Canada.
“Obviously, the more time together, the more growth we should have,” Adams told FOX Sports after the Americans were eliminated from the tournament via a 3-1 defeat to the Netherlands in the Round of 16 on Saturday. “But that being said, we still need to develop individually into more mature players for moments like this where we can come out on top.
“It comes down to the moments and today you can see a little bit more experienced team got the better of us. Our youth our potential that we have. We need to maximize that moving forward in the time we have between now and obviously in 2026.”
The former Red Bulls standout midfielder said that the match “comes down to the margins.”
“When you play a team with so much quality like that, and you give them three, four, chances, they’re going put three or four away,” he said. “I’m super proud of the boys’ performance today. We can show that we can hang with some of the best teams in the world, some of the best players in the world. That’s a lot of progress for U.S. Soccer. We’re moving in the right direction for sure. But we need to keep pushing because we’re not there yet. But we’re close.”
The Americans finished second in their group to England, going undefeated (1-0-2) and surrendering only one goal, and that was via a penalty kick.
And then came Saturday’s match.
“We made some progress,” head coach Gregg Berhalter said. “I think what people look at our team there is the clear identity. They see guys that go out and fight for each other they see a talent on the field. We made progress, but … we came up short.”
Midfielder Weston McKennie felt the USA squad turned heads – in the country and the rest of the world.
“We had a mission from the beginning,” he said. “This four-year journey was changed the way the world views American soccer and I think at this tournament, the performances that we put in I think we accomplished that.
“We know this game could have gone either way. We know that we could have won this game. We believed it. Obviously, soccer is a very unpredictable sport. There’s highs there’s lows, but I think we’re going just use this … and have another four years to get prepared.”
McKennie later added: “We had a lot of doubters against us; many people thinking that we wouldn’t even make it out of the group Obviously, we didn’t want to be in this moment right now, not winning this game. We didn’t want the story to end. We didn’t want the journey to end. … We exceeded expectations that people had for us and I think we’ll continue to do that.”