Mexico’s World Cup History: An Unlucky Seven
In the World Cup’s first edition, hosted by Uruguay in 1916, only one team made it out of the early knockout rounds. After that, every edition has consisted of a handful of teams left in the race, with most of the early rounds being decided by coin flips or the odd injury. In more than three decades, only six different teams have ever made it all the way to the last eight.
It’s not hard to understand why. The tournament is very difficult to navigate for a team. The world’s best players don’t need a passport to compete, and the tournament has a different format in every country. There are also many variables that dictate what the fate of a specific team will be: star players, scheduling, travel logistics, and the general state of play in their country.
The United States has had its fair Share of luck, though. The Socceroos were able to make it past the group stage of the 2010 World Cup, but in the other three tournaments since then, the United States has failed to make it past the last 16. In 2006, they advanced to the knockout round, but fell to England 0-2. In 2002, they didn’t advance to the knockout round and instead were knocked out in the group stage. In 1998, they managed to advance but the result was later revealed to be a false-start penalty kick. In 1986, they made the quarterfinals, but were defeated by Brazil in extra time.
The United States also didn’t have much luck in the 1982 tournament, where they failed to advance out of the group stage despite a win over Saudi Arabia, and the 1982 World Cup qualifiers. They also reached the quarterfinals, but lost to hosts Spain.
That’s seven out of 12 World Cup history where the United States have made it into the knockout round, and with more than three years of preparations for this