Five for 2026: Which players could represent the USMNT's World Cup core?

The 2026 World Cup is closer than it seems. We already see signs of who could be crucial for the Americans - potentially on home soil.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Any discussion of the United States men’s national team and what that bunch might look like in 2026 starts with Christian Pulisic. Of course it does.

But he’s not the only one worth talking about. Or, better said, “speculating” about. Nine years is quite a spell; plenty could happen between here and there. But let’s have some fun anyway and walk this puppy around the block.

Here’s what the core of the U.S. team might look like at World Cup 2026:

Christian Pulisic

Beyond all the obvious talent and relentless desire to drive attacking movements forward, it’s versatility that makes Pulisic such a great building block. It gets practically intoxicating to watch him attack, penetrate and run at defenders from wide areas (usually on the right) for Dortmund. His introduction into that spot at halftime of last week’s Champions League contest against Monaco changed the game spectacularly.

But if there’s another U.S. option to place on the right (the next next big thing is out there, you know), then Pulisic can and has lined up effectively on the left. And even more importantly, we’ve seen lately an emerging comfort level when stationed centrally, as he did recently in a revealing World Cup qualifier performance against Honduras.

The point is, his versatility is accommodating to surrounding talent and to an array of tactical ideas, so building around Pulisic comes with fewer complications.

Oh, and the most important part: He’ll be 27 that summer. That’s 10 years as a pro by then, full of wisdom but still young enough to have the legs (assuming good health along the way).

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