After 64 years, Wales will finally meet the United States in a World Cup match on Monday night in Al Rayyan.
This game will finish up the first slate of competition in Group B, which features England and Iran and has the potential to be quite close.
USA vs Wales Match Preview
The U.S. missed the 2018 World Cup after losing their last qualifier in Trinidad & Tobago.
This time, the top four countries were separated by only three points in a very tough qualifying segment. But the USA was able to secure one of the three automatic slots, slightly ahead of Costa Rica.
Gregg Berhalter’s team pick raised a few eyebrows by leaving out certain regulars, but the change was anticipated when form fell before the finals.
Following qualifying, the USA overcame Morocco and Grenada and drew against Uruguay. But a tie in El Salvador in the CONCACAF Nations League, plus a loss to Japan and a draw with Saudi Arabia in a September friendly, generated significant unhappiness.
In four of the last seven tournaments, the United States has advanced to the championship round, but they have never beaten European opponents in nine tries. To advance this time, they must overcome two UEFA teams in their group.
Wales’ record heading into the finals isn’t encouraging, as they haven’t won since beating Ukraine 1-0 in the quarterfinals. Rob Page’s side drew 1-1 with Belgium but lost against Poland and the Netherlands to be demoted from League A.
Wales lost their first World Cup qualifying match against Belgium but went undefeated in their next seven games to finish just beyond the Czech Republic.
Gareth Bale will lead Wales as he did in the playoffs, scoring a hat trick against Austria and assisting on Andriy Yarmolenko’s own goal.
Wales advanced from the group stage in 2016 and 2020 for the European Championships, and Bale hopes to do so again in what may be his last international appearance.
USA vs Wales Team News
The United States’ Zack Steffen was supposed to start between the posts in Qatar, but after a lackluster season with Manchester City in which he was benched in favour of Stefan Ortega, Steffen was cut from the team.
Matt Turner and Ethan Horvath are vying for the starting goalkeeper position, and Turner, who plays for Arsenal, may have the upper hand since he appeared in both of the club’s September friendlies.
Despite not having played for Juventus since October, Weston McKennie should be ready to start in midfield today.
The United States’ primary strength is in the attacking third, where Berhalter has many choices, and one or two players may be unlucky to lose out on starting roles alongside Christian Pulisic.
Gareth Bale, limited to only guest spots since joining LAFC in MLS this year, said earlier this week that he is ready and willing must participate in all three games for a full Wales’ group games if required.
Even though Joe Allen was released in late September because it was an injury, he thinks he can do it with ease playing in this group’s first game.
Unfortunately for the Welsh national team, defender Rhys Norrington-Davies sustained an injury in a match against Coventry City earlier this month. There is no way for them to join in on the competition.
- Possible Starting Lineup of United States: Turner, Dest, Zimmerman, Long, A Robinson, Adams, McKennie, Aaronson, Reyna, Ferreira, Pulisic.
- Possible Starting Lineup of Wales: Hennessey, C Roberts, Ampadu, Rodon, B Davies, N Williams, Allen, Ramsey, Bale, Moore, James.
Our Prediction: USA 1-1 Wales
Both teams need a victory in their first matchup, as the race for second place in the group is likely to be tight, with England as the heavy favourite to win it all.
Both sides have grown to rely on several key personnel to achieve their objectives; a single stroke of genius may be the deciding factor.