American fans of the “beautiful game” were thrilled Wednesday when FIFA announced that the 2026 World Cup would be hosted by Canada, the United States and Mexico. But enthusiasts can’t ignore the fact that the U.S. men’s national team failed to qualify this year — the first time that’s happened since 1986. What happened? This article argues that the American team is going through some predictable growing pains on its way to becoming a contender. I’ll be pulling for Mexico this year in honor of the many Mexican families I worked with on my mission along the Texas border.