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There’s no harm in believing the USMNT can win the World Cup

The United States men’s national team can win the World Cup.

Don’t laugh.

First a quick caveat: The U.S. probably isn’t going to win this World Cup in Qatar. But there’s absolutely no reason not to think and hope they have a chance, no matter how small it may be. And there’s no reason you should hesitate to jump on the bandwagon with reckless abandon and dream of the unthinkable.

This USMNT squad is a breath of fresh air in the sports landscape. A bunch of young, talented, and likable dudes from all types of backgrounds. If that’s not an American sports entity that you can unapologetically get behind, then I don’t know what is. If you can’t listen to 23-year-old Tyler Adams give a thoughtful and eloquent answer when asked about race relations in America and then go out and boss some of the best midfielders in the world and not want to root for this team, you have a cold, dead heart.

There’s just so much to love about this squad of players and we’ve only scratched the surface of how good they could potentially be.

Based on group-stage performances, there really is no clear favorite to win this tournament as it stands. England, the team who the USA brought to the brink and tied 0-0 a week ago, is considered among the favorites to lift the trophy at the end of this whole thing. If the U.S. can stand toe-to-toe and arguably outplay them, it stands to reason they can hang with anyone else.

The knockout stage starts with Netherlands, a traditional European powerhouse. But don’t let their prestige and aura fool you. This isn’t the Oranje of the 80’s and 90’s. Louis van Gaal’s side have plenty of talent but are far from being an elite international team. Sure they topped Group A, but it must be said that it was the weakest group in the tournament. They also only managed a 2-0 win over a very poor Qatar team while being held to a 1-1 draw by Ecuador. If not for the red-hot PSV winger Cody Gakpo who scored in all three group matches it would have been a much more difficult pathway to the knockout rounds. Betting odds may slightly favor the Dutch, but the U.S. have great chance to knock them off on Saturday.

If the USMNT manage to get past the Netherlands, they will start facing a who’s who of world soccer giants. Lionel Messi and Argentina would be the most likely opponent in the quarterfinals and it would only get tougher from there with the likes of France and Brazil to follow. But that’s the beauty of knockout soccer. Anything is possible. We’ve seen plenty of miracle runs in a tournament like this and who is to say this young group of Americans can’t be the next great sports story?

If you’ve ever seen those viral videos of American soccer fans gathered at a public viewing party celebrating a huge moment and thought “that sure looks like fun” then Saturday’s match against the Netherlands is a perfect time to hop on the bandwagon. Maybe you can find a local sports bar to go watch the U.S. try to pull off the upset or even get together with family and friends and make a day out of it. There’s always a chance the result isn’t what Americans hope it will be, but it’s the comradery and passion of everyone hoping for victory that makes it such a great experience.

The USMNT probably won’t win the World Cup but there’s always that sliver of a chance something magical happens. You don’t want to miss out on that experience if something crazy occurs and this team shocks the world or at least comes close.

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