There have been several talks among the U.S soccer community about which team was the better side for the USMNT. This started because former striker Jozy Altidore admitted that though the 2022 team have better talent, the 2014 squad could beat them in a match. Both squads had impressive runs in their World Cups while also accomplishing a lot to not only grow the sport in the states, but to become a major threat in international play.
So, who is the better side among the two?
2022 USMNT: More players in the top leagues in Europe
The biggest difference between the 2014 and 2022 teams is that more players have moved to Europe at a younger age and are playing for the biggest clubs in the world. From the main starters and substitutes for the 2022 team, six of them play in the Premier League, two in Serie A, two via the Bundesliga, two La Liga, another two from Ligue 1, one from the Scottish Premier League, while four played in the MLS.
Some of these clubs include Chelsea, Arsenal, AC Milan, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and Valencia. Unlike the 2014 team, six of their core players were from the MLS, with five from the Bundesliga, five from the Premier League and one from Ligue 1.
However, the biggest named clubs were only Bayern Munich, while the rest included Everton, Stoke City (who is now in the EFL), Nantes and Hoffenheim. Even now, both Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah have been getting regular playing time at AC Milan, while both Westin McKennie and Timothy Weah are key players in the midfield for Juventus.
Not to mention that USMNT keeper Matt Turner is following in Tim Howard’s footsteps and is the starting goalkeeper for Nottingham Forest. The 2022 team have adapted to the style of play in Europe, which makes them one of the most talented teams in U.S history.
2014 USMNT: Built around veterans
The biggest issue with the current USMNT team is that they are very naïve. The lack of experience cost them the defeat against the Netherlands during the round of 16 at the World Cup by keeping too much of possession, which resulted in them getting exposed on the counter attacks. The 2014 team had an average age of 27.8, which was one of the oldest during that World Cup. In comparison, the 2022 team had the second youngest team with an average age of 25.
The match against Belgium during the 2014 round of 16 showed their maturity and experience, despite losing 2-1. This is despite the fact there was controversy in the end after just one minute of extra time was given, the USMNT was as close to making the quarterfinals compared to the 2022 team.
The back line of Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler, DaMarcus Beasley along with keeper Tim Howard had an average age of almost 30. Howard even totaled an astounding 16 saves against Belgium. Their defense had not cracked under the pressure while allowing six goals in five matches.
They also did the unthinkable and finished second in the group of death, sending Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal packing. The 2014 team was less skillful, but was strong in other aspects. That included scoring goals in set pieces while having a strong back line, which is always a big key to winning football matches.
Klinsmann vs Berhalter: Who was the better coach?
Both Jürgen Klinsmann and Gregg Berhalter had different tactics and strategies they used while also encountering heavy criticism during their time as coaches. Klinsmann made a bold move to cut Landon Donovan from the 2014 World Cup roster, which immediately sparked controversy. Berhalter was also flamed after benching Giovanni Reyna during the 2022 World Cup due to “lack of effort” in training.
While both coaches had their time of bad reputation, they each played a role in developing the USMNT program. Klinsmann began to push the young players to develop in Europe after openly admitting he was not too fond of Clint Dempsey’s and Michael Bradley’s decisions of leaving Europe for the MLS at the prime of their careers.
Many believe he was the start of the success for the new generation while coaching his side that circled around defense. Berhalter has also done a successful job in leading the young squad to wins, having already won back-to-back CONCACAF Nations League and a Gold Cup title. The Reyna-Berhalter drama tarnished his reputation, with fans even booing him at every stadium around the country.
What he has done well is dominate possession, especially in the midfield. With the amount of talent on the current squad, Berhalter knows where to play his players, despite the backlash. Both Klinsmann and Berhalter have done good jobs with their prospective teams, which ultimately has led to the rise of football in the states while leading the nation to prepare for the 2026 World Cup on their home turf.
As for which USMNT team is better, it will always be up to debate by fans and pundits alike.