Gulati cautioned that improvement isn’t a straight line, that there will be spurts and declines. Since reaching the World Cup quarterfinals in 2002 for its best showing since 1930, the Americans were knocked out in the first round in 2006 and the second round in 2010.
‘‘At some point, we’re not going to qualify for a World Cup. I hope it’s a hundred years from now,’’ Gulati said. ‘‘It’s good that expectations have risen. But it’s not going to always be that we’re going to get one step further. It’s not realistic.’’