USMNT wins the Concacaf trophy for the third consecutive year, cementing its regional dominance ahead of the 2026 World Cup

The United States men’s national team won the Concacaf Trophy for the third straight year, defeating Canada 2-0 in the Concacaf Nations League final. Canada may have won World Cup qualifiers, a streak that earned them a promotion, but the United States were the only Concacaf team to make it out of the group stage of the 2022 World Cup and entered the tournament as clear favourites. Historically, the US has been considered a co-favourite, or second to Mexico, at Concacaf events. No longer.

Tyler Adams, Sergino Dest and Weston McKennie were all unavailable for the Nations League final. didn’t matter. At half-time even Gio Reyna was injured. didn’t matter. In Luca De La Torre, the team still managed to bring a La Liga regular off the bench to stabilize the team. Such battle-hardened players would have been an automatic starter in years past, but as the talent pool and depth of the team grows, the level increases year on year.

In recent years, this improvement has been gradual, albeit with one major downer. The general consensus was that the USMNT was a good team, but they had to find a real forward somewhere to be a great team. Now they don’t have just one. Folarin Balogun opened his account with the USMNT in the first half, which doubled the team’s lead with a sweet feed from Reyna. The striker, who scored 21 goals in Ligue 1 last year and then dedicated his future to the USA, is vastly superior to any options USA had. But that’s not all! Ricardo Pepi, the young American forward who narrowly missed out on the World Cup squad, scored in his side’s semi-final match against Mexico. If Pepi can continue his development – especially with a possible move to PSV in the Eredivisie – then the USMNT could indeed have the depth needed. Ahead of the 2024 Copa America and the 2026 World Cup, this team is getting better and better, operating independently from the rest of the Concacaf.

Beyond that team, young American players like Josh Wynder make monthly transfers to clubs like Benfica, Major League Soccer academies are establishing themselves and producing high-level talent, and Gregg Berhalter has carried on one of the hallmarks of Jurgen Klinsmann’s tenure – dual national recruitment . Balogun needed just two games to show what the side had been lacking throughout a World Cup cycle. He scored one goal, showed impressive skill on the ball and almost lost the ball to Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan with an easy goal in pressing.

Across Concacaf, El Tri has taken a step back and Diego Cocca is the latest head coach to be under pressure, but it’s the lack of youth development and the loss of doubles internationals to the United States that make the difference. Even Jamacia tried to spur an improvement with impressive double national recruits of Michail Antonio and Leon Bailey to match their core and Andre Blake at net, but those moves have yet to bear fruit. Canada is at an inflection point, having top talent like Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David but lacking the strength at depth, an area where USMNT has grown by leaps and bounds.

Canada’s problems are probably the easiest of the trio to solve, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be addressed with significant investment. An investment made in the past by the Canadian Football Association wasn’t interested in providing anythingwhich Herdman addressed after the loss.

“It’s the prep time where it takes a lot of money to get things together. I think it’s no secret that the organization suffered financially even during World Cup qualifiers. Your head coach is raising money to make sure we have a charter flights, safety on those charter flights, and that’s all. We’ve got the best generation of players we’ve ever had there, and more to come. You see it, you’re stuck and it just falls away The sky. Tajon Buchanan just fell from the sky, Alistair Johnston just fell from the sky. It’s coming,” Herdman said in his post-game press release.

“But we have to sort this out financially. We have to be serious about winning a World Cup. Playing at home gives you a chance to win them. You have a chance to reach a semi-final, a quarter-final.” And set out to win. And we don’t mean it. We’ve brought a World Cup to our country and we’re not serious about winning it and you see how close this team is tactically tonight, we were there . Chances, shots, we were there. The margins were so tight tonight. We need to get real and badass because these players deserve it. You deserve a chance. The country deserves it. All people working to achieve it deserve a try. Let’s strive for it.

Herdman’s words were clear, but this is the kind of support Canadian football needs to compete and capitalize on the platform it is building. With the Canada Premier League now up and running, Canada is in a place where football can explode, but that won’t happen if the country continues to cancel friendlies and fails to invest in infrastructure to host top teams and tournaments north to organize the border. The World Cup should be a great time to allocate those funds, but from what Herdman says there is still a lot to be done.

Herdman’s statement amounts to an appeal for his association to invest so that the country can take the steps that the US has already taken. In all of these aspects, the United States is miles ahead of the rest of the Concacaf, but if things go in the right direction, 2026 can help lift other teams out of their doldrums. Of course, if 2026 is to save these federations, imagine what it could mean for America. By then it may be too late to catch up with the United States as current youth players reach their prime and are replaced by even more talented players in the pipeline. There’s also, and just on a night where the USMNT won a tournament it might be an afterthought, the impact of Lionel Messi’s play in the MLS and whether that will draw even more talent into the league, the talent development has already accelerated.

Things are going great for the USMNT at the moment. You set records. Imagine what could happen if they get even better in the years to come.

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