Boston

What to know about USMNT’s Group B opponents

Boston
Group B

Group B in the 2022 FIFA World Cup is now set following Wales’ 1-0 victory over Ukraine in their playoff final. 

Wales, making the World Cup for the first time in 64 years, will join a group that includes England, USA and Iran. Though it doesn’t hold the stature of a “Group of Death,” it’ll be a difficult task to progress to the knockout stage. 

With USMNT’s group stage fixtures in place, here’s everything you need to know about the three opponents:

What is the USMNT’s schedule for the 2022 World Cup?

USA opens the prestigious competition against Wales. The second match is against England with the game against Iran wrapping up the group stage. 

Here’s when to watch the USMNT in action:

  • Game 1 vs. Wales: 2 p.m. ET, Nov. 21, 2022
  • Game 2 vs. England: 2 p.m. ET, Nov. 25, 2022
  • Game 3 vs. Iran: 2 p.m. ET, Nov. 29, 2022

What is the USMNT’s record vs. Wales?

USA-Wales head-to-head favors the Stars and Stripes. The nations have met just twice in history, both coming in international friendlies. 

The first game was on May 26, 2003, that saw the USA take a 2-0 win. The second matchup was on Nov. 12, 2020, and ended in a scoreless draw. 

 

What is the USMNT’s record vs. England?

History does not support the USMNT in this head-to-head matchup. The two nations have met 11 total times – eight times in friendlies, twice in the World Cup and once in the U.S. Cup – with England winning all eight friendlies. The U.S. Cup contest ended in a 2-0 win for the USMNT.

The positive news for the U.S. is that it never lost in both World Cup matches. The first was a 1-0 win back in 1950 and the second was a 1-1 draw in 2010. The U.S. edged England on goals scored in the group that year to take first place going into the knockout stage. Let’s see if the good fortune continues as England will be the nation’s toughest matchup in Group B.

What is the USMNT’s record vs. Iran?

Like Wales, USMNT has faced Iran twice in international matches – once in a World Cup and the other in a friendly. However, the Yanks have not won yet. 

Iran won 2-1 in the 1998 World Cup as the U.S. lost every single group stage game that year. Two years later in a friendly, both teams played to a 1-1 draw. With this being the final group game for the USMNT in 2022, it could have some important implications depending on how the first two games go.

Where is USA, England, Wales and Iran ranked in FIFA?

As of FIFA’s latest international ranking of all qualified nations on March 31, England is the highest-ranked country from Group B. Here’s how the four countries stand among 211 teams:

  • England: 5
  • USA: 13
  • Wales: 18
  • Iran: 21

Who are the players to watch in Group B?

This all depends on which players make the final list – 23 players, including three goalkeepers – for their respective nations. 

Based on who has been making international appearances in recent competitions, these players should be on your radar:

  • USA: Christian Pulisic, Weston McKinnie, Brenden Aaronson, Yunus Musah, Timothy Weah
  • England: Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jude Bellingham
  • Wales: Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Daniel James, Ethan Ampadu, Brennan Johnson
  • Iran: Medhi Taremi, Sardar Azmoun, Ali Gholizadeh, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Sadegh Moharrami

Can the USMNT make it out of Group B?

This is all contingent on which players make the final squad when it is announced once the World Cup gets closer. The USMNT have taken a youth-based approach after not qualifying in 2018, and that will be the case with the roster this year. 

Fielding a striker who can convert chances will be vital. Jesus Ferreira, 21, has been the main No. 9 recently but is showing he’s more of a creator than a finisher. Haji Wright, 24, scored a penalty on his debut against Morocco and could provide the juice up top. 

 

If Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman are the top two choices at center back, then having consistency at goalie will also be a deciding factor. Matt Turner (Arsenal bound), Sean Johnson (NYCFC) and Zach Steffen (Manchester City) have fought for the No. 1 spot in recent matches and could be the three goalies the country takes to Qatar, but head coach Gregg Berhalter will need to choose the one he’s most comfortable with.