The hopes and dreams of the United States men’s national team came to an end on Saturday, as the USMNT was knocked out of the World Cup with a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands.
If you are a supporter of the USMNT, the end of their run does not mean your rooting interests have to draw to a close. There is a lot of incredible soccer left to be played, and as such, it might be time to find a new team to follow for the next few weeks.
If you are having trouble coming up with a nation to support, we have you covered. Here are some suggestions.
The team that knocked the US out: The Netherlands
For some, there is honor and glory in seeing a team that eliminated your nation go on to glory.
If that sounds like you, then supporting the Netherlands might be the move.
What might sweeten the deal? The fact that they have never won the World Cup. Despite appearing in three World Cup Finals — most recently in 2010 — they have never claimed soccer’s ultimate prize.
The biggest underdogs left: Australia
If you are reading this, you are likely a USMNT fan, which means you are already familiar with rooting for an underdog.
If that sounds like you, then it’s time to root for the Socceroos.
Australia faced a difficult path to the World Cup, having to work through a playoff just to make it to Qatar. But having qualified for the World Cup, they advanced out of group play thanks to a pair of 1-0 victories in their final two matches in Group D.
Their reward? A date with Lionel Messi and Argentina, one of the favorites heading into the World Cup to win it all. In that match they will be perhaps the ultimate underdogs.
But if rooting for an underdog is something you love to do, then the Socceroos are your new team. They enter the round of 16 as the lowest-ranked team left according to FIFA’s rankings.
There is one caveat to this, however. Argentina and Australia square off on Saturday, and by the time you are reading this, Australia may have been eliminated. If you are still looking for an underdog, then South Korea is the next selection, given their own FIFA ranking.
A legend chasing the impossible dream: Lionel Messi and Argentina
Speaking of Argentina, if storylines are a driving force behind your rooting interests, then throwing your support behind Lionel Messi’s quest for a World Cup should draw your attention.
While Messi’s legacy in the sporting world is solidified regardless of how Argentina fares in the World Cup, the living legend is playing in his last World Cup, having yet to hoist the trophy. He confirmed that back in October, and talked about the “anxiety and nerves” of playing in his final World Cup.
While Argentina got out to a slow start in group play, losing to Saudi Arabia in stunning fashion, they still emerged as the winners of their group, thanks to a pair of 2-0 wins. The first came against Mexico, and the second against Poland saw Argentina win Group C.
Argentina has not won a World Cup since 1986 — the year that saw Argentina score on Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal in the quarter-final against England — and a victory in this tournament would see Messi finally hold the World Cup aloft.
But he is not the only living legend chasing that impossible dream.
Another legend chasing a World Cup: Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal
Lionel Messi is not the only living legend still dreaming of a World Cup, as Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo also has yet to taste that glory.
Ronaldo became the first player to score in five different World Cups, when he scored in Portugal’s 3-2 victory over Ghana to open their World Cup. The goal also made him, at 37, the oldest player to score a goal for Portugal in a World Cup.
However, this has been a rather tumultuous year for Ronaldo. He parted ways with Manchester United just as the World Cup began, and there are reports that he has been offered a blockbuster contract to play for Al-Nassr in the Saudi Professional League.
What could bring that year to a more enjoyable end?
Winning his first World Cup.
If that sounds like a good storyline to you, then Portugal is your team the rest of the way.
The team with the best nickname: Japan
Maybe you are looking for a good nickman to anchor your support over the next few weeks.
Look no further than Japan.
The Samurai Blue qualified for the knockout round as the winners of Group E, thanks to their 2-1 victory over Spain in their final match of group play. While there are other tremendous nicknames in the sport — including nicknames for teams still standing, such as the Socceroos, the Taegeuk Warriors, and the Three Lions — there is something about Japan’s nickname that conjures up images of pride.
And speaking of pride, you can see what their qualification for the knockout round meant to their supporters:
Japanese fans weep as they witness their team stun Spain and top their group, eliminating Germany. Football is at its best when it empowers fans to live out their wildest dreams and make memories they will carry forever. How can you not love this Sport? pic.twitter.com/PpQdCpEJXm
— roger bennett (@rogbennett) December 1, 2022
The defending champions: France
Not since 1962 as a nation won back-to-back World Cups, when Brazil defeated Czechia to win their second-straight title.
France is hoping to match that feat.
In the history of the World Cup, only two nations have tasted the glory of winning back-to-back World Cups. Italy was the first to accomplish that feat, winning in 1934 and again in 1938. Brazil matched that, with their victories in 1958 and 1962.
France, by winning in Qatar, would become just the third nation to ever win back-to-back World Cups.
If rooting for history is your thing, France might be your team.
Or it might not be.
The team chasing history: Brazil
Brazil could become the first nation to win six World Cups with a victory in Qatar.
They already lead the way with five World Cup victories, trailed by both Germany and Italy, but a victory in this year’s World Cup would see Brazil put some distance between themselves and those two nations.
Hopefully these suggestions have pointed you in the right direction.
However, if none of these ideas stick out to you, then you can use the trusty SB Nation Rooting Guide to light the way.