Soccer Fans’ Message to Team USA: Make the World Cup’s Round of 16
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is unlike any World Cup before it. The first one in the Arab world and the first to be played outside the traditional months of June and July, the Qatar World Cup is already unprecedented — and that’s before you wade into the tournament’s many controversies, which include the host country’s human rights record.
With all of that tumult as a backdrop, Morning Consult surveyed soccer fans in the United States and eight other countries to uncover their interest in the tournament, favorite teams and players and thoughts on the various controversies, all while looking ahead to the 2026 World Cup in North America.
Fox Sports soccer analyst Alexi Lalas said it would be a failure for the U.S. men’s national soccer team not to advance past the group stage of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. American soccer fans apparently agree.
A new Morning Consult survey found that more than 1 in 3 self-identified soccer fans (35%) said they will not be satisfied with the team’s performance unless it is one of the top two countries in its group of four. Team USA’s group includes England, Wales and Iran. England is the clear favorite, while the United States is likely to battle with Wales for the second spot.
Despite the failure to qualify for 2018’s tournament still hanging over the team, fans are optimistic about the U.S. men’s national team’s chances of advancing to the round of 16. More than half of soccer fans (54%) think it is at least “somewhat likely” that Team USA will be one of the top two teams in Group B, making it the most likely expected outcome for the Americans among all of the options included in the survey.
Fans have tempered — but quite specific — expectations for the national team, the survey found. Anything is possible for the second-youngest squad in the 32-team tournament, starting Monday as Team USA faces Wales in a crucial group match.
Soccer Fans Won’t Be Satisfied Unless the USMNT Advances in Qatar
Group stage or bust
- U.S. soccer fans won’t be happy with anything but the USMNT earning one of the top two spots in group play and reaching the round of 16, according to the data. In both the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, the team advanced past group play but failed to make it to the quarterfinals.
- About two-thirds of fans (64%) would be satisfied if the U.S. team won the World Cup. It’s unclear what the other third would prefer to see instead.
More Than 1 in 2 Soccer Fans Believe USMNT Will Advance Past Group Stage in Qatar
Americans also expect a World Cup round of 16 bid
- Like American soccer fans, adults overall said they expect the men’s team to secure a spot in the round of 16, albeit at a lesser rate. Nearly 3 in 10 adults (28%) think it is at least “somewhat likely” the USMNT advances past the group stage. The majority of adults did not have an opinion on the team’s expectations.
The stars and stripes
Some research gives the men’s team less than a 1% chance of winning the World Cup, while FanDuel Group put the Americans’ odds of winning at +15,000, tied for 16th with Wales, Mexico, Ecuador and Poland. The good news is soccer fans don’t anticipate that much from the red, white and blue.
The U.S. squad, led by 24-year-old Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic, is a talented but young team with little experience on the world stage. Defender DeAndre Yedlin is the only veteran of the team that played in the 2014 World Cup. Still, pundits like Lalas, along with the majority of U.S. soccer fans, expect the team to, at the very least, get out of its potentially difficult group.
The Oct. 19-21, 2022 survey was conducted among a representative sample of 2,211 U.S. adults, including 813 self-identified soccer fans, with unweighted margins of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points and plus or minus 3 percentage points, respectively.
Mark J. Burns is a sports analyst on the Industry Intelligence team, where he conducts research, authors analyst notes and advises leaders in the sports industry on how to apply insights to make better business decisions. Before joining Morning Consult, he served as a beat reporter at Sports Business Journal, covering the business of hockey and soccer. Mark graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in history and holds a Juris Doctor from Belmont University. For speaking opportunities and booking requests, please email [email protected].