The World Cup is finally here, with the Red, White and Blue back in the competition after a tough miss on the 2018 festivities in Russia. Placed in Group B, the first match for Team USA matches them up with a Welsh side making its first appearance in the revered tournament since 1958, ready to show they’re ready for the opportunity that’s eluded them and those of past squads for decades.
The Matchup: USAvWAL
- Stage: Group B, Matchday 1
- 11:00 AM PT kickoff
- Venue: Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
- Watch: FOX40, Telemundo
Outlook: United States
Team USA is ready not only to be back in the World Cup, but to prove that they again belong amongst the best of the best. Wales will provide a challenge, but Greg Berhalter’s men all believe three points are there for the taking. Getting off to a good start will be critical for the tournament’s second-youngest squad, providing necessary confidence and a reminder that they belong on the stage that they worked very hard to reach.
A talented attacking unit should lead the charge, with capable contributors littering the team sheet. Many believe creating chances won’t be an issue with the technical skill level the U.S. possesses. In addition, the likes of Josh Sargent, Christian Pulisic, Brendan Aaronson, Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson and Tyler Adams play with and against a number of the players on the Welsh side they’re set to face weekly in club competition, and that familiarity could play a big part in the result.
The United States return to the World Cup has been highly anticipated – but it doesn’t touch the drought that Wales will break when the opening whistle sounds. 64 years have passed since their nation’s last appearance in the tournament, last competing in 1958. Then, only 16 teams battled for glory, and every player will be
For the majority, one name on the Welsh roster stands out in bold: Gareth Bale. Even amidst some questions about his fitness, his reputation precedes him. He can make an impact regardless of the role he plays, just as he showed in the MLS Cup title game as a substitute in extra time. Alongside the star power he provides, Wale’s squad features Premier League talents all over the roster, and an impressive amount of experience. Only eight of their 26 men enter the tournament with less than 20 international caps, and 14 have appeared for their country at least 30 times.
This match provides a unique first for football historians to track. Just twice before has the United States taken on Wales in an international contest, however each were friendlies, making the contest the first-ever competitive game between the two nations. In 2003, the United States claimed a victory over Wales at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, before waiting 17 years for their next contest – a scoreless draw at Cardiff City Stadium closed to fans for health and safety purposes.