What is the USA’s best finish in a World Cup? Past results and appearances for the USMNT
After a tense and narrow win over Iran, the United States is through to the Round of 16 at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It’s a long road ahead, including a tough matchup with Netherlands coming up Saturday, but after missing the tournament in 2018, the U.S. men have the chance to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in two decades. See below for the United States best finish at the World Cup, tournament history and past appearances.
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United States best finish at the World Cup
We’re nearing the centennial of what is technically considered the United States men’s best performance at a World Cup: At the inaugural tournament back in 1930, held in Uruguay, the U.S. reached the semifinals, where they suffered a tough 6-1 loss to eventual runner-up Argentina. No third-place match was played, but the U.S. is classified as the third-place team from that World Cup based on their better goal differential over fourth-place Yugoslavia.
The World Cup today looks significantly different than that 1930s edition, from format of competition to number of teams. Since then, the best result for the U.S. at the men’s World Cup came in 2002, when a roster that featured Claudio Reyna, Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley and current USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter, reached the quarterfinals. The U.S. defeated their CONCACAF rival Mexico in the Round of 16 before falling 1-0 to Germany in the quarterfinals.
But after failing to qualify for the World Cup in 2018 (and at the Tokyo Olympics), the young U.S. squad is making strides here in Qatar, highlighted by an impressive 0-0 draw against international powerhouse England. While the Netherlands squad presents a tall task, it’s not out of the question for this 2022 U.S. roster to make it back to the final eight.
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Has the U.S. ever won a knockout match at the World Cup?
The U.S. men have never won the World Cup, and have not advanced beyond the quarterfinals in over 90 years. The U.S. men have won a knockout match at the World Cup just once, that 2002 edition held jointly between South Korea and Japan, when they defeated Mexico in the Round of 16. At the 1930s edition, the U.S. went straight from group play to their semifinal loss vs Argentina.
The U.S. women’s team, however, is the most successful World Cup team in history. The American women have won the tournament four times, including the inaugural tournament in 1991, the 1999 edition, and each of the last two World Cups (2015, 2019).
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How many times has the U.S. been to the World Cup?
The U.S. men’s soccer team has appeared in 11 editions of the World Cup, including this showing in Qatar. Their appearance in 2022 is a return to the international stage after missing out in 2018. See below for their results by year at each of the past World Cup tournaments.
U.S. World Cup finishes by year
1930 - Eliminated in semifinals (3rd place overall)
1934 - Eliminated in Round of 16
1938 - Withdrew during qualification
1950 - Eliminated in Group Stage
1954-1986 - Did not qualify
1990 - Eliminated in Group stage
1994 - Eliminated in Round of 16
1998 - Eliminated in Group Stage
2002 - Eliminated in Quarterfinals
2006 - Eliminated in Group Stage
2010 - Eliminated in Round of 16
2014 - Eliminated in Round of 16
2018 - Did not qualify
RELATED: Full list of past World Cup winners year-by-year
USA vs Netherlands history
In Qatar, the U.S. will face Netherlands hoping to advance out of the Round of 16 for the first time in 20 years. The United States has never faced the Dutch at the World Cup or in any competitive matches, but the two sides have met in international friendlies over the years. The bad news for the U.S.: Netherlands has won four of those five matchups. The good news: The U.S. won the most recent meeting, a 4-3 comeback victory back in 2015.
How to watch USA vs Netherlands live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday, December 3rd
Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)