USA falters as Bale grabs point for Wales
The USA and Wales battled it out to a tight, tense draw in their World Cup opener as both teams will be fairly happy with that outcome in Group B.
But the U.S. will feel like this was one that got away as Gareth Bale equalized with eight minutes to go for Wales (playing in their first World Cup game since 1958) as the young Americans couldn’t hold on for all three points.
After eight years away from the World Cup for the U.S., this was as tense as you would expect as Bale grabbed a point for the Welsh late on as a draw was a fair result.
After a dominant start the U.S. took the lead in the first half as Christian Pulisic surged forward and played a perfect through ball to the onrushing Tim Weah who poked home confidently to send American fans everywhere wild.
Wales improved drastically in the second half as Kieffer Moore gave them a focal point up top and he somehow headed wide from close range moments after Matt Turner had denied Ben Davies. Walker Zimmerman then made a terrible challenge on Bale and the Welsh captain picked himself up to hammer home the penalty kick to grab a point.
The USMNT face England on Friday in their next group game, while Wales face Iran on the same day.
Berhalter’s masterplan starts well, then fades badly
For most of the last few years the USMNT have been hit by injuries and a lack of form to their key players. But at the perfect time everything fell together, at least for the first 45 minutes, for Gregg Berhalter and his side. Dest and McKennie were fit enough to start, Tim Ream has hit the form of his life to bolster the defensive unit. Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah are fit and firing on all cylinders and this is pretty close to the USMNT’s first choice lineup.
The high-pressing game dominated Wales in the first half and the energy of this young team blew their opponents away. When they were on top they got the goal they deserved and everything was slotting into place for the U.S. when they needed it to. But then they faltered. Whether it be lack of experience or a lack of energy, the USMNT wilted in the second half as Wales missed two big chances before they equalized late on. This was a case of the U.S. having a golden opportunity for victory in their grasp but they let it slip in pretty tame fashion. That will disappoint Berhalter but there were plenty of positives to take from their first half display.
Stars of the show
Tim Ream: Dominant defensively and was so calm on the ball in the first half to keep the pressure on Wales. What a comeback story for the 35-year-old.
Kieffer Moore: What an impact he had after coming on at half time. Gave Wales a focal point and turned the game around.
How to watch USA vs Wales live! - By Joe Prince-Wright
Kick off: 2pm ET, Monday (November 21)
Stadium: Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)
There was a lot of talk about why Gio Reyna didn’t come on (he told reporters he is 100 percent fit) and it appears that Gregg Berhalter preferred Jordan Morris over the talented young playmaker.
FULL TIME: USA 1-1 Wales - Disappointing end for the USMNT who were excellent in the first half but fair play to Wales, they fought back valiantly and deserved that point. That sets things up for a very tense Group B.
GOALLL! No, is the answer. Walker Zimmerman goes through the back of Gareth Bale and gives away a penalty kick. Bale then picks himself up and slams home. 1-1.
Tick tock. Just over 10 minutes to go. Can the U.S. hold on!?
Brenden Aaronson on for McKennie. The Leeds midfielder needs to help them get on the ball and stop Wales surging forward.
CLOSE! Somehow Kieffer Moore heads over from close range. What a chance for Wales.
Wales have started the second half well and the USMNT are having to spend a lot of time defending.
GOALLL! Tim Weah with a superb finish after a great run and pass from Christian Pulisic. The USMNT get the goal their dominant display deserves.
Sergino Dest and Weston McKennie both booked within a few minutes. Not ideal. Both have been battling for fitness and only just made this game. Changes at half time?
Save! Wayne Hennessey saves as Rodon heads towards his own goal after good work from Tim Weah. Sargent then powers a header wide from close range. USA have to make the most of being on top here.
A decent start from the USA. Wales haven’t been able to keep the ball and the Americans are knocking it about nicely.
Here we go! The teams are out, the anthems have been sung and the fireworks are flying. It is go time for the USA at the World Cup.
USMNT, Wales starting XI
Key storylines, players to watch closely
For the USMNT their midfield core is going to be their strength but there are still plenty of question marks around the defense. Veteran Tim Ream could start at center back to provide experience, while the midfield trio of Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Yunus Musah are locked in as the main men in midfield. Ahead of them Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Brenden Aaronson and Tim Weah are all battling for a starting spot in attacking midfield but there is no clear winner to start as the No. 9, so perhaps the USMNT will start with a false nine?
In terms of injuries, Sergino Dest, Matt Turner and Weston McKennie have all been training after brushing off recent injuries. However, Gregg Berhalter said that both Dest and McKennie are unlikely to play the full 90 minutes and said they aren’t fully fit for the opener against Wales. It has also been announced that Tyler Adams has been named captain of the USMNT for the tournament.
🗣 I spoke with Wales and Tottenham defender Ben Davies about facing the #USMNT at the World Cup.— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW_NBCSports) November 17, 2022
He had plenty of respect for the Americans and he believes both teams know how important the Group B opener is to their hopes of progression 👇 https://t.co/lh6LLfT8Ko
Wales love to sit deep and soak up pressure and their back three and fluid system will be tough for the USMNT to break down. Going forward the quality of Ramsey and Bale speaks for itself and Wales will rely heavily on set-piece situations and swinging in crosses for Kieffer Moore to attack. Watch out for Harry Wilson and Daniel James in the attacking areas too. Wales are a robust, experienced team and they are very good at sitting back and then springing counter attacks. Their nation expects them to get out of this group and this game against the USMNT is going to be so close to call. Injury wise Wales look pretty good with Joe Allen training on his own as he recovers from a recent hamstring issue and won’t be available for this game.
USA quick facts
Current FIFA world ranking: 16
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 9
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONCACAF (3rd place)
Coach: Gregg Berhalter
Key players: Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams
Wales quick facts
Current FIFA world ranking: 19
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 1
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs, Path B
Coach: Rob Page
Key players: Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies