11/22/22  US ties Wales 1-1, Mexico-Poland Tues 11 am on Fox, US vs England Fri 2 pm Fox

US Men tie Wales 1-1, Friday 2 pm vs England on Fox

The first 45 minutes was perhaps the best half of soccer for the US since the US win over Mexico in the Nations League.  We were dominant with 75% possession and Pulisic slotted a perfect ball to Tim Weah for the well deserved first goal after 5 shots in the first half.  You have to give Berhalter credit for a perfect line-up in the first half – but boy did Wale come back in the 2nd half.  I thought the US was fine and we all knew Wales was going to press forward – but this game all came down to Walker Zimmerman our center back making a stupid and rash foul on Garreth Bale which gave up a PK and effectively cost us the game.  Give Wales credit for putting in subs that made a difference while Berhalter waited too long to make his subs – Yedlin for Dest (on a yellow) was waaay too late, and even Aarsonson for McKinney was ok – but a few minutes later my issue was Acosta for Musah (who was gassed).  The Acosta sub showed that Berhalter was going to try to hang on rather than go for the win. Reyna or de La Torre here would have signaled the US was going for the win and trying to get that counter attack goal – instead we absorbed pressure and for the most part held on – until the calamitous play by Zimmerman.  I thought the D held pretty well – Ream was god like in the center and Jedi Robinson was solid on the left.  Matt Turner made a huge save and also got a finger on the PK blast by Bale.  Overall the US was electricfying in the first half and had chances to score that second goal.  I have issues with the subs and it would have been nice to see the US adjust the 2nd half pressure with a formation change (to 4-4-2 from 4-3-3)  – allowing Pulisic to get further up the field on the counter attack rather than having to come back so much and get fouled repeatedly.  

Now about the Ref – this Qatar Center Ref – was definitely fluffing his feathers and decided he wanted to be THE STAR of this game.  He inserted himself WAAAAY to often and decided he wanted all his countrymen to see him take charge of this USA vs European game.  He was not consistent and simply LOVED TO SEE HIMSELF on the Screen.  I didn’t realize Qatar had pro soccer league much less one that would prepare them for a game in the World Cup.  Still the US lost this tie – and the Ref didn’t help. 

Shane’s Starters for Friday

Pulisic, Sargent, Weah

Musah, Reyna

Adams

Robinson, Ream, Zimmerman, Scally

Turner

First off bench McKinney, Aaronson, Ferriera

Matt Turner Save

 US Goal by Tim Weah

these 26 stories on our 26 players going to Qatar its awesomeMore hype videos

Full U.S. Men’s roster for 2022 World Cup:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Luton Town/ENG; 8 appearances for U.S./0 goals), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 10/0), Matt Turner (Arsenal/ENG; 20/0)

DEFENDERS (9): Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic/SCO; 11/0), Sergino Dest (AC Milan/ITA; 19/2), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 29/3), Shaq Moore (Nashville SC; 15/1), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 46/1), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 29/2), Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach/GER; 3/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami CF; 75/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 33/3)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United/ENG; 24/6), Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 53/2), Tyler Adams (Leeds United/ENG; 32/1), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo/ESP; 12/0), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 37/9), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 19/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 32/0)

FORWARDS (7): Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas; 15/7), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 49/11), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 52/21), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 14/4), Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 20/5), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 25/3), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor/TUR; 3/1)

World Cup News

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Shane’s Starters for Friday

Pulisic, Sargent, Weah

Musah, Reyna

Adams

Robinson, Ream, Zimmerman, Scalley

Turner

First off bench McKinney, Aaronson, Ferriera

Matt Turner Save

 US Goal by Tim Weah

these 26 stories on our 26 players going to Qatar its awesomeMore hype videos

Full U.S. Men’s roster for 2022 World Cup:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Luton Town/ENG; 8 appearances for U.S./0 goals), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 10/0), Matt Turner (Arsenal/ENG; 20/0)

DEFENDERS (9): Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic/SCO; 11/0), Sergino Dest (AC Milan/ITA; 19/2), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 29/3), Shaq Moore (Nashville SC; 15/1), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 46/1), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 29/2), Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach/GER; 3/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami CF; 75/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 33/3)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United/ENG; 24/6), Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 53/2), Tyler Adams (Leeds United/ENG; 32/1), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo/ESP; 12/0), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 37/9), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 19/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 32/0)

FORWARDS (7): Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas; 15/7), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 49/11), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 52/21), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 14/4), Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 20/5), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 25/3), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor/TUR; 3/1)

World Cup News

The World Cup commercials are out – which ones do you like best?  Nike  Addidas  check them all out here

American Outlaws Watch Party Friday 2 pm Union Jack Pub in Broad Ripple. https://www.facebook.com/IndyAOUnite

5 am Fox Sport 1               Argentina (Messi) vs Saudi Arabia

8 am FS1 Tunisia vs Denmark

11 am Fox                            Mexico vs Poland 

2 pm Fox                              France vs Austrailia

Wed, Nov 23

5 am Fox Sport 1               Morroco vs Croatia

7 am Fox Sport 1              Germany vs Japan

11 am Fox                            Spain vs Costa Rica 

2 pm Fox                              Belgium vs Canada

Thur, Nov 24  –                   Thanksgiving

5 am FS1                              Switzterland vs Cameroon

8 am FS1                              Uruguay vs Korea

11 am Fox                            Portugal (Renaldo) vs Ghana

2 pm Fox                              Brazil (Neymar) vs Serbia

Fri, Nov 25

5 am FS1                              Wales vs Iran

8 am FS1                              Qatar vs Senagal

11 am Fox                            Ecuador vs Netherlands

2 pm Fox                     USA vs England

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My 4 Thoughts on USMNT 1, Wales 1

Late Gareth Bale penalty gives Wales a big point against a U.S. team that will be disappointed it couldn’t hold the lead.

GRANT WAHLNOV 21∙PAID
 
SAVE▷  LISTEN
 
Tim Weah kept his composure and scored for the U.S. off a brilliant ball from Christian Pulisic (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

DOHA, Qatar — The USMNT tied Wales 1-1 in their opening game of the World Cup on Monday after a 36th-minute goal by Tim Weah was matched by Gareth Bale’s 82nd-minute penalty. Here are my four thoughts on the game:


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• This is going to feel like two points dropped after a mostly positive U.S. performance. It sure looked like the U.S. was going to get a big three points in its World Cup opener as Weah’s goal stood up for nearly 50 minutes, but a misguided challenge by Walker Zimmerman in the box on Bale was whistled for the penalty, and the Welsh superstar (who hadn’t played 90 minutes in forever) converted the spot kick. The U.S. had chances to go up 2-0 at various times in the second half and will regret not executing better in the attacking third on those opportunities. But the truth is Wales performed much better in the second half and started to create some chances of its own. Wales ended up having a slight advantage on expected goals (1.56 to 0.79 if you include the penalty kick). It’s a shame that the U.S. couldn’t get all three points. It would have set up the Americans well to advance from the group. Now this group will be on a knife’s edge as I suspect the U.S. and Wales will continue to duke it out for second place behind an England team that looked great today in a 6-2 win over Iran. That said, there’s no reason the U.S. can’t give England a game on Friday. It’s just now that much more important.

• The Christian Pulisic/Weah combo continues to produce goals in big games. Remember when Weah’s gorgeous cross was hit by Pulisic for the game-winning goal against Mexico at home a year ago? Well, Pulisic returned the favor on Monday in the World Cup, embarking on a gorgeous run through the midfield and laying off a pinpoint pass for Weah to finish with ice-cold composure. We had wondered this week if Weah might get a surprise nod at center-forward considering the U.S.’s struggles at the spot and Weah’s history of playing there at club level. Weah didn’t start as the No. 9 on Monday, but he certainly provided a center-forward’s finish at speed going down the gut. Give credit to Gregg Berhalter for starting Weah ahead of Gio Reyna (who didn’t play at all) or Brenden Aaronson. Both those players can be impact guys, but Weah has a record of producing goals and assists for the national team that those guys don’t have. Weah’s father, the great George Weah, never got to play in a World Cup, so you have to think it was a special moment for the Weah family to see Tim put it in the net.

• The left side of Fulham’s back line looked good in red, white and blue. Berhalter smartly chose to start Tim Ream as his left center-back even though Ream hadn’t even been with the U.S. team in more than a year before this camp. And the 35-year-old Ream made the coach’s trust pay off, showing his usual skill playing the ball out of the back and playing solid defense. There’s a calmness and wisdom about Ream that not many U.S. center-backs possess, and his club familiarity with Fulham teammate Antonee Robinson helped too on Monday. Robinson got forward down the left side on several occasions, and while he didn’t have any truly dangerous crosses you still like seeing him get in the position to deliver them. Overall, the U.S. defense did well except for the penalty, and Matt Turner had a terrific reaction save in the 64th minute on a Ben Davies header on one of the few occasions the U.S. back line let one slip.

• The U.S. men haven’t won many World Cup games over the years, and you realize again how hard it is to get them. World Cup wins haven’t happened often in the modern era for the U.S. men: One in 2014 (Ghana), one in 2010 (Algeria), two in 2002 (Mexico and Portugal) and one in 1994 (Colombia). That’s it. Tonight will feel like a large missed opportunity because three points and a great chance to advance from the group were there to be taken. More than four out of five teams that win their first World Cup game advance to the elimination rounds. Now the challenge will be for the U.S. to shake off the frustration from what could have been in this game and get ready to play England. No England team has ever beaten the U.S. in a World Cup (men’s or women’s), and while it’s a small sample size, the U.S. should go into that game feeling like it can play with any team in the

tournament.

Grant Wahl Unexpected Detention by World Cup Security

What happened when I wore a rainbow t-shirt to the Qatar World Cup in support of LGBTQ rights in a country where same-sex relationships are illegal.

GRANT WAHL  NOV 21  

DOHA, Qatar — When I arrived at the stadium media entrance to cover the United States-Wales World Cup game today wearing a rainbow soccer ball t-shirt supporting the LGBTQ community, the security guards refused to let me in, detained me for 25 minutes and angrily demanded that I remove my t-shirt.

“You have to change your shirt,” one guard told me. “It’s not allowed.”Same-sex relationships are illegal in Qatar. But FIFA has been clear in saying that the rainbow flag would be welcomed at the World Cup. The Qatari regime, however, has said very little on the topic, raising concerns that things would be different on the ground.I sent out a hasty tweet:

Just now: Security guard refusing to let me into the stadium for USA-Wales. “You have to change your shirt. It’s not allowed.”

3:57 PM ∙ Nov 21, 2022 A moment after tweeting that, one guard forcibly ripped my phone from my hands.Nearly half an hour passed. One security guard told me that my shirt was “political” and not allowed. Another continually refused to give me back my phone. Another guard yelled at me as he stood above me—I was sitting on a chair by now—that I had to remove my shirt.I told him no.“You can make this easy. Take off your shirt,” one said.I told him no, adding that my shirt wasn’t political at all.My friend Andrew Das, a reporter for the New York Times, walked past, and I informed him what was going on. They detained him too.Eventually, the guards made me stand up, turn around and face the CCTV camera above us.“Are you from the UK?” one guard asked.“New York,” I said. This was getting annoying. I arrived when I did so I’d have enough time to watch the Netherlands-Senegal game, and now I was missing it.Finally, they let Andy go. And then a security commander approached me. He said they were letting me through and apologized. We shook hands.One of the security guards told me they were just trying to protect me from fans inside who could harm me for wearing the shirt.(A FIFA rep later apologized to me as well.)But the entire episode left me wondering: What’s it like for ordinary Qataris who might wear a rainbow shirt when the world isn’t watching here? What’s that like?

USA player ratings vs. Wales: A tale of two halves

By Connor FlemingNovember 21, 2022

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The U.S. had it but Gareth Bale is inevitable.

To beat Wales to open its World Cup campaign, scoring twice was always going to be necessary for the United States. Why? Because even if he did absolutely nothing for 89 minutes, you knew Gareth Bale was going to score in the 90th. 

The U.S. got its first in a sensational opening 45 minutes, but that second goal never came as Wales gained the ascendency for large portions of the second half. The inevitable moment finally arrived in the 82nd minute after Walker Zimmerman fouled Bale in the area, and the 33-year-old came up clutch from the spot.

USA player ratings vs Wales 

Manager Gregg Berhalter: 7/10

Berhalter made two huge personnel decisions Monday: Weah on the right flank and Ream at center back. Weah scored the goal, Ream anchored the defense. The U.S. manager also recognized how Wales was going to attack on the flanks and hit those defensive weak spots going the other way. n the second half, he reacted quickly to the turning of the tide with some timely changes, but the 75th-minute triple sub didn’t work like Berhalter envisioned. As Landon Donovan said after the game, where was Giovanni Reyna? Berhalter was walking on water in the first half, but the second provided the Big Soccer Brains of Twitter with ammunition.    

Matt Turner: 6/10

Turner didn’t face a shot in the first half. In the second, he acrobatically tipped a diving header over the crossbar. He did everything right on Bale’s penalty — guessing the right direction and diving early — but it was an unstoppable effort. Turner didn’t have any memorable saves late, and he looked shaky with balls into the area before relying on a Kellyn Acosta tactical foul to prevent a goal while in no man’s land.       

Antonee Robinson: 6/10

Got forward effectively in the opening 45 and marshaled Gareth Bale into total silence. He went the full 90 and did well given the threat of Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts, but it was all rearguard action in the second 45. 

Tim Ream: 8/10 

His first 45 was close to perfection. He dealt with a couple dangerous situations with supreme calm and distributed beautifully. Nothing was getting by Ream, and that proved the case over 90 minutes with Wales only converting from the spot. Like everyone else, the second half was more of a struggle with the physicality of Kieffer Moore posing problems.  

Walker Zimmerman: 3/10

Like his partner in the heart of defense, his passing was quick, zippy and purposeful in the first half. Zimmerman looked confident — so confident that he tried to win the ball off Gareth Bale in the area despite being shielded. It was a stonewall penalty. It’s sad and unfortunate but he let his country down. 

Sergiño Dest: 6/10

98% pass accuracy in the opening 45! His passing was crisp, although he was given a soft yellow card, and he made life so miserable for Daniel James that the Fulham attacker was hooked at halftime. However, Dest’s lack of action at AC Milan was evident in the second half as he struggled with Wales’ direct approach and tired quickly.  

Tyler Adams: 8/10

The American with the most tackles, the most interceptions and the most midfield touches. Adams was the version of himself that’s been winning plenty of plaudits at Leeds United, and as every other American began to fade and surrender in the second half, Adams continued to battle. 

Weston McKennie: 5/10 

Another recipient of a soft yellow, but McKennie’s off-the-ball movement was constant, shifting the Welsh midfield and backline around. However, he wasn’t largely involved, his passing wasn’t quite at his teammates’ level and when Wales took the ascendency in the second-half, McKennie was rightly the first U.S. substitution. 

Yunus Musah: 6/10

Musah showcased his attacking talent in the first half with some nice dribbles and great passing, but the game completely passed him by in the second 45 as he looked like a big defensive liability. The decision to take him off and put Kellyn Acosta on made perfect sense.  

Christian Pulisic: 7/10

What an assist from LeBron on Tim Weah’s goal! Pulisic was heavily involved with 70 touches, but he didn’t look as dangerous off the dribble as usual (zero successful take-ons) and there was enough evidence here to take him off set-piece delivery forever. 

Timothy Weah: 8/10

The sharpest U.S. attacker in that glorious first half. A smart run, beautiful touch and dangerous cross almost opened the scoring, but then Weah did it himself in the 36th with a composed finish beyond Wayne Hennessey. He was replaced by Joran Morris in the 88th.  

Josh Sargent: 6/10 

Sargent did exactly what was required of him on the opening goal with good holdup play. He also glanced a header off the post from a difficult angle, but his second half was a lonely time before getting replaced by Haji Wright in the 74th.  

Subs

Brenden Aaronson, Jordan Morris, Haji Wright, DeAndre Yedlin and Kellyn Acosta tried to turn the tide as Wales grew into the second half, but none of them stood out as Wales drew level and pushed for a winner. Aaronson probably helped his chances of starting against England the most, and Acosta is the greatest tactical fouler in U.S. history.

Open in app or onlineAn Unexpected Detention by World Cup SecurityWhat happened when I wore a rainbow t-shirt to the Qatar World Cup in support of LGBTQ rights in a country where same-sex relationships are illegal.GRANT WAHLNOV 21 SAVE

USMNT Player Ratings: Weah’s goal, Zimmerman’s mistake define World Cup draw

By Bruce Arena

Monday, Nov 21, 2022, 05:33 PM

The first game at a World Cup is so important, something I’ve experienced twice with the US men’s national team.

In 2002 we beat Portugal 3-2, setting up a quarterfinal run. Then in 2006 we lost 3-0 to the Czech Republic, setting up a group-stage exit.

Where will things go after the USMNT’s 2022 World Cup began with a 1-1 draw against Wales on Monday? A point to start their Qatar 2022 trip isn’t the worst thing, but this young squad should have won 2-0 and not allowed Gareth Bale’s group to stick around.

Group B impact

I still think ​the USMNT are going to reach the knockout stages, probably needing a win over Iran on the final matchday (Nov. 29) and hoping for a point against England on Black Friday. But it’s also clear this team, in this cycle, didn’t have enough experiences against quality international teams to be fully ready for a World Cup. That’s mainly because of the pandemic, so it’s hard to toss blame, but it’s also a fact we played a bunch of Concacaf games that were way too easy. You need those top-tier teams that really challenge you.

And the England game is shaping up as a real test, after they beat Iran 6-2 and sent goal differential/goals scored in their favor. The question is are we grown-ups and do we understand this is one where we’re an underdog and we have to play smart, we have to play defensively, play a little bit differently than we talk about how we should play.

Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves just yet, though. Here’s how I thought, person by person, the USMNT fared Monday against the Welsh. I’m using the following grading scale:

  • 1-4: Below average or worse
  • 5-6: Average
  • 7-8: Good to very good
  • 9-10: Excellent or outstanding

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Matt Turner

Goalkeeper · USA

My former goalkeeper with the New England Revolution made a really strong save early in the second half, stepping up after mostly being a bystander. Turner had one hell of an effort on Gareth Bale’s PK, but that 82nd-minute shot was too strong to save – as good as he is from the spot.

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Jedi Robinson

Defender · USA

Jedi could’ve been a little bit tighter on closing down crosses, but he defended fairly well. It’s clear how important the Fulham left back is to how the USMNT want to play; he’s eager to get forward and join the attack.

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Tim Ream

Defender · USA

A few weeks ago, it seemed like Ream wasn’t even going to be on the USMNT’s World Cup roster. But the 35-year-old answered the call against Wales, passing well out of the back and going a good job organizing the defense. He’s your veteran leader out there, building off a key role at Fulham in the EPL.

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Walker Zimmerman

Defender · Nashville SC

I hate dinging his grade, but Walker’s foul on Bale cost the USMNT all three points. He had to do very little defending, then in an important moment of the game he goes to the ground and concedes a penalty. That hurts his team.

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Sergiño Dest

Defender · USA

Getting an early yellow card definitely didn’t help Dest. He was okay on both ends, but could’ve been more of a presence in the attack. You expect him to be more threatening going forward.

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Tyler Adams

Midfielder · USA

I wanted to see more passing from Adams in pushing the US forward. He’s got the armband for a reason and is really strong defensively, but there’s room for him to impact the game more.

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Weston McKennie

Midfielder · USA

Weston’s early yellow card took away from the aggressiveness we’re used to seeing from him. He’s at his best when he’s running all over the field, but I rarely saw him in the attacking third. Still, a solid game for Weston as he comes back from injury.

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Yunus Musah

Midfielder · USA

I was surprised to learn Musah became the youngest player to start a World Cup match for the USMNT (19 years, 358 days), even younger than when we had Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley back in 2002. On the day, he picked it up in the second half and was overall pretty solid.

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Christian Pulisic

Forward · USA

Pulisic’s influence really grew after the first period, and his through ball on Weah’s strike was great. I would’ve liked to see the USMNT’s main man get a shot on goal or find more ways to impact things.

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Joshua Sargent

Forward · USA

The Norwich City striker was too quiet and could’ve gotten more touches. Sargent’s grade is on the low end of being “average,” but it’s not fully on him that we didn’t play forward quickly enough.

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Timothy Weah

Forward · USA

Weah scored a goal in the World Cup. How can’t you give him a good rating? I wanted to see him get after Wales’ left back Neco Williams even more, but he stepped up. Give him full credit.

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Gregg Berhalter

Head coach

What I’d be critical of is we could’ve made changes a little earlier in the game. I would’ve brought in two attacking players between the 60th minute to 65th minute. 

But at the end of the game, I don’t know how you blame a manager for an error in judgment that Walker makes. That’s tough to do. 

Substitutes

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Brenden Aaronson

Midfielder · USA

Aaronson showed his usual aggressiveness, trying to get out on the break a few times. I wanted to see him subbed on earlier; those quick balls up to the forwards are threatening.

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Haji Wright

Forward · USA

Wright probably could’ve come into the game earlier too after Sargent was pretty ineffective. He had some bright moments, but didn’t have enough time.

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DeAndre Yedlin

Defender · USA

Yedlin came in and did his job, the sole USMNT player with past World Cup experience.

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Kellyn Acosta

Midfielder · USA

I’m almost tempted to put Acosta higher after that stoppage-time yellow card he took on Bale, his LAFC teammate. That was a very smart play since Matt was caught off his line at 1-1.

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Jordan Morris

Forward · USA

Morris didn’t play enough to get a rating. I would’ve brought on Gio Reyna instead, but it sounds like he might not have been 100% fit – or at least Gregg’s being careful with his injury history.

USA's defender #03 Walker Zimmerman and Wales' forward #11 Gareth Bale fall during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between USA and Wales at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on November 21, 2022. (Photo by Antonin THUILLIER / AFP) (Photo by ANTONIN THUILLIER/AFP via Getty Images)

The USMNT’s two tackles that defined their draw with Wales

Paul Tenorio Nov 21, 2022

The game, and potentially the entire trajectory of the U.S. team’s 2022 World Cup experience, changed in the matter of two seconds and a few feet of movement by Wales star Gareth Bale, who may be slowing physically with age, but not in his speed of thought.It was the 80th minute and the U.S. was holding on to a 1-0 lead. A crucial three points in their group opener was within their grasp. As the ball was cut back across their penalty box, U.S. center back Walker Zimmerman lunged forward to clear it from danger. The 29-year-old Nashville SC defender saw a clear path to the ball. But Bale lurked behind him.Bale had only 30 touches on the night, the lowest of any starter for Wales, but world-class players find ways to change games in those margins. On this occasion, it was Bale’s clever movement that was key. In the two seconds as the ball was played, Bale covered the few yards of space between him and Zimmerman and stuck his left leg and left shoulder in front of the defender. Zimmerman had committed and went through the back of the five-time Champions League winner. It was a mistake to leave in his feet, and it was an easy penalty call.

Bale is brought down by Zimmerman for the penalty (Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Bale finished the night with just two touches in the box: drawing the penalty and converting it with a blistering shot through Matt Turner’s finger tips. And just like that, the USMNT’s path through Group B became substantially more difficult.It was a mistake from one of the U.S.’s most dependable players at the worst possible time. Zimmerman was the lone U.S. outfield player not to take part in the first three qualifiers last September.

Berhalter didn’t call him initially for the October window of World Cup qualifying, but he was summoned late after Tim Ream and John Brooks withdrew from camp. Zimmerman stepped into the starting lineup in October against Jamaica and soon proved himself capable of performing with the national team.He became a reliable option at a time when the center back position grew shaky following injuries to Miles Robinson and Chris Richards. Going into roster selection for the tournament as Berhalter considered five or six options, Zimmerman was the one center back who had secured his spot on the plane to Qatar through his consistent play.But on the biggest of stages, a player who had become a stalwart lost himself slightly in the moment. It was instinctive to leave his feet for the clearance, he said. By the time he saw Bale, it was too late.The U.S. will now go into Friday’s match-up against group-favorites England aiming for a result to feel comfortable. A win or draw would put them on a clear path to advance out of the group stage. A loss would leave the U.S. in need of a win against Iran in the finale and some help from the rest of their group. This is how life goes at the World Cup. The difference between success and failure can be determined in a handful of moments across three games. 

The reaction

“We talked about it before the game, every play matters,” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said. “World Cup. You’ve got to be focused. Every single play can have a potential outcome on the game. It’s a high level that we’re playing. A good high intensity. And this particular play was a little bit unlucky for Walker, he had a lot of good challenges. This one, a little unlucky.”“We leave our feet in the penalty area and anytime you do that, you’ve got to be 100 per cent,” Turner said. “And this time a great defender, he made a mistake, and I do my best to try to pick those up and make the play not-so-bad, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to do that.”Zimmerman’s thoughts on the matter were succinct: “Wish I would have seen him out of the corner of my eye. “Sometimes you’ve just got to shrug it off. It happened. Move forward. Not much time to dwell on it…it’s not the first penalty  I’ve given up, it’s not the last one I’ll ever give up. You can learn from it.”Wales manager Rob Page didn’t put his side’s equalizer down to luck or Zimmerman’s vision, however. He credited Bale’s ability to put himself in the right spots.“(Bale’s) very good at finding those spaces, he’s intelligent, he’s got a wise head, so he puts himself in those positions in the box to be able to get penalties,” Page said. “He used all his wisdom there.”

Before the tackle

It would be unfair to treat Zimmerman’s tackle as the lone moment of vulnerability for the U.S. Wales had the better of play in the second half after bringing forward Kieffer Moore on for Dan James. The 6ft 5in Moore became a target up top and they went more direct, causing all sorts of problems for a U.S. team that controlled the first half.While the U.S. spent most of the first 45 minutes on the ball and in their opponents’ half — they had 66.1 percent possession at half-time — it was Wales that looked the bigger threat in the second half. Still, the U.S. seemed at least to be managing that pressure and dealing with it well enough. Turner was called upon to make a huge save on a header from Ben Davies in the 64th minute and Moore should have put a header on target shortly after that, but otherwise the threats were relatively tame.Even the penalty didn’t come without some controversy. The U.S. team was adamant that the ball went out of play near the corner flag in the 80th minute before Brennan Johnson played it back. The ball would be played out for a throw a few seconds later, and Wales took that quickly to start the sequence that led to the penalty. “Unless the replay shows differently, it was blatantly out of play,” said Antonee Robinson, who was the defender pressuring Johnson. “So it’s really disappointing. I kept saying to the linesman, ‘you’ve cost us the game,’ basically. It should be a win. And there’s nothing they can do, it’s a new phase of play, VAR can’t do anything at that point. It’s disappointing. The officiating was terrible, to be honest, on the whole game, so hopefully that improves for the tournament.”Berhalter addressed the play too.“Leading up to (the penalty) there’s a throw-in,” he said. “I’m looking down the sideline and was sure the ball went out of play. By a good margin. I’m really surprised that it wasn’t called.”

The other tackle

In the final moments of the game, Kellyn Acosta may have saved Turner and the U.S. from what would have been a devastating loss. The goalkeeper came way out of his box to clear away a long ball. As he raced back to his empty net, Bale looked to be lining up a shot from just past midfield that would have given Wales the win. Before he could hit the ball, however, Acosta, Bale’s LAFC team-mate, fouled him and picked up a yellow.“It’s a great foul,” Zimmerman said. “It’s professional.”One tackle that cost the U.S. a win and one that prevented a loss — the fine margins of the World Cup.It was a disappointing result for the U.S. in their first game back on the world stage since losing to Belgium in the round of 16 back in 2014.Eight and a half years ago, Tim Weah was a 14-year-old playing in the New York Red Bulls academy. Pulisic was 15 and still one month away from moving to Germany with his family to begin his professional career.Both had dreams of playing in a World Cup. Weah, the son of former FIFA World Player of the Year George Weah, aspired for a chance to reach a stage his famous father had never played on.Pulisic’s wait lasted four years more than he expected — a destiny delayed on a soggy field in Couva, Trinidad five years ago. On Monday night in Doha, more than 6,500 miles from where they grew up, the two combined on a goal that looked like it might give the U.S. a crucial three points.Unfortunately, another player making his World Cup debut would flip the narrative. In 2014, Bale was no kid; he had been sold for a record €100 million transfer fee. But he, too, waited a long time for this moment — for a chance to write his name in the books at a World Cup.

Why Tim Weah over Gio Reyna was the right call for USMNT’s draw with Wales – Sam Stejskal Athletic

USA's forward #21 Timothy Weah celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between USA and Wales at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on November 21, 2022. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)

By Sam Stejskal


Head coach Gregg Berhalter had big decisions to make heading into the U.S. men’s team’s World Cup opener against Wales.Were Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest fit enough to start? Would he stick with Jesus Ferreira at striker or give Josh Sargent a run? Which two of Tim ReamAaron Long and Walker Zimmerman would get the nod at center back? Would Tim Weah or Gio Reyna start at right wing?

As it turned out, two of those choices were critical in what ended as a disappointing 1-1 draw for the U.S.

On the right wing, Berhalter guarded against some muscle tightness and rested Reyna, instead giving Weah the start. That paid off massively late in the first half, when Weah darted in behind the Wales defense and slotted a shot past goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

At center back, the U.S. opted for Ream and Zimmerman. For the most part, the duo did well, but a costly mistake by Zimmerman gave Wales a penalty that star forward Gareth Bale converted in the 82nd minute.

The two plays defined Monday’s result, which, while fair, left the Americans in a precarious position in Group B. The U.S, who will play group favorites and leaders England on Friday, may end up needing a win and some help in the final round of group matches next Tuesday in order to advance to the round of 16.“It’s pretty clear: It’s a disappointing result,” said goalkeeper Matt Turner, who got a hand to Bale’s blistering penalty. “The first half was great, but we didn’t score as much as we probably should have and that cost us. That’s an experienced team — in the second half it was disappointing that we let them in the game so much.”Weah was a huge reason the Americans were in a winning position to begin with. It wasn’t just that he scored the goal — the chance he buried probably never materializes if it was not for his specific skills.Though he only recorded one goal and one assist in nine appearances, Weah was probably the most consistently dangerous U.S. attacker during World Cup qualifying. No matter the opponent or stage, Berhalter can trust the 22-year-old to remain high and wide and use his speed to stretch opposing backlines.Fellow wingers Christian Pulisic and Reyna might be big talents, but they often pop up in central positions rather than run in behind opposing defenses.That ability made the U.S.’s goal. The Americans controlled the first half hour against a passive Wales, but, apart from a Sargent header off the post from close-range after an initial attack was recycled back into the box, the Americans didn’t create many good chances.hat changed in the 36th minute. After a bit of a scramble in midfield, Pulisic headed a ball forward to Sargent, who had dragged one of Wales’ three center backs forward by checking back.Sargent played the ball to an onrushing Pulisic, who drove into the attacking third. His run occupied the remaining two Welsh center backs, with right-sided center back Chris Mepham rushing up to confront him and left-sided center back Ben Davies sliding over to provide cover.

That prevented Pulisic from carrying the ball into the box, but it left space for Weah to run in to from the right. He took full advantage, racing beyond Wales wing-back Neco Williams and running onto Pulisic’s excellent through ball in the middle of the area before slotting the ball home.“One of my strong points is definitely running in behind the defense,” said Weah, whose father George, one of the greatest players in the history of the game and the current president of Liberia, was in attendance on Monday.

“I know when Christian gets the ball that he’s very creative, and he knows how to find those positions. It was up to me to just make the run, and the most important thing was to finish. It was an amazing moment.”It was an excellent team goal — and exactly the type of movement the U.S. was hoping for. Wales sat deep for much of the match, particularly in the first half. They were difficult to pick apart, stacking the middle of the final third with defenders and forcing the U.S. wide.The U.S. expected those tactics. In order to break Wales down, they knew they would have to draw one or more of Wales’ three center backs forward, then immediately exploit the space the defender vacated.Unfortunately, they weren’t able to produce that kind of movement all that often. Wales’ defensive discipline shunted the U.S. to the flanks time after time, and they struggled to hit accurate crosses

“Playing a back five, they can kind of just sit deep and it made it difficult for us to penetrate through them,” said left back Antonee Robinson, who spent a significant amount of time attacking.“It was difficult to try and find solutions and mix our game up and drag players out. It ended up getting to the point where it was players like Christian or Yunus (Musah) turning players one-v-one to take a player out, and then trying to beat the pressure. And obviously they’ve got quite good height in the back, as well, so crosses in the box, they’re decent at defending them.”

Things did come off perfectly for the U.S. on Weah’s goal, however. Even if Reyna was fully healthy, the ability to make that kind of run in behind probably means Weah would be in the starting XI.

But there was still controversy over Reyna not getting into the match. Berhalter used four of his five substitutions while the U.S. was leading 1-0; they were either made to take off tiring players, make the U.S. more defensively robust or achieve a combination of those two things.

The fifth change came after Wales equalized. It seemed like a natural time to bring on Reyna for Weah, who was cramping and looked fatigued. Instead, Berhalter introduced the far less heralded and technically skilled Jordan Morris, who wasn’t able to affect the game in the closing minutes.

Berhalter said that Reyna experienced tightness in the U.S.’s friendly against Qatari club Al-Gharafa SC on Thursday. The American training staff performed what Berhalter called “a last-minute check” on Reyna on Sunday to confirm that he was healthy enough to play against Wales.

Those results came back positive, but, given that the end of the game was an open, physical affair, Berhalter opted for the physicality of Morris over the historically injury prone Reyna, who missed a few weeks this fall after he tweaked his hamstring while with the U.S. in September.

“(Reyna) is gonna be OK and I envision him playing some role against England, but today we thought, given the nature of the game, (that Morris was the better choice).”

Reyna said after the game that he “felt good” and “ready to go, but it was just (Berhalter’s) decision” to not play him.

His ability to create chances out of almost nothing could serve the U.S. well on Friday against an England team buoyed by beating Iran 6-2.

The Americans don’t need a point against England in order to maintain their hopes of advancing to the knockout rounds, but any kind of result would be a massive boost.

A few more movements like the one displayed on Weah’s goal, coupled with magic from Reyna or another teammate, would go a long, long way toward achieving that.

USA 1 Wales 1: Bale to the rescue, Weah’s vertical movement and Pulisic delivered

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 21: Gareth Bale of Wales celebrates after scoring their team's first goal via a penalty past Matt Turner of United States during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between USA and Wales at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 21, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

By Stuart JamesPaul Tenorio and more Nov 21, 2022


It was Gareth Bale to the rescue for Wales in their opening game of the World Cup against the U.S. men’s national team as the forward who now plays in MLS for Los Angeles FC scored a late penalty to cancel out Tim Weah’s first-half goal.

Christian Pulisic set Weah up brilliantly to put Gregg Berhalter’s side ahead at the Al Rayyan Stadium but Bale won a penalty with less than 10 minutes to go after a clumsy foul by USMNT centre-back Walker Zimmerman.

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Earlier in the day in Group B, England had thrashed Iran 6-2 and they are the clear favourites to win the group.

Our writers Stuart James, Paul Tenorio and Mark Carey analyse the key talking points from the game…


Bale steps up when it matters

James: Aged 33, Bale tends to produce moments these days rather than performances — and nothing changed here. On the fringe of the game for so long — he had fewer touches than anyone else starting in a Wales shirt — Bale delivered when it mattered yet again.

For much of the game it had been hard to escape the feeling that the pace and tempo of the match was too much for Bale — which would have been no surprise given how little football he has played in the build-up. Booked in the first half — harshly it should be said — Bale was unusually careless in possession.

Bale being Bale, though, there was another chapter waiting to be written in his glorious Wales career. On the night he earned his 109th cap, to equal Chris Gunter’s record, Bale won and converted the penalty that earned Wales a deserved draw after a hugely improved second-half performance, aided by the introduction of Kieffer Moore.


Pulisic delivered in his first World Cup game

Tenorio: Since breaking out with Borussia Dortmund as a teenager six years ago, Pulisic has carried a certain level of expectation on his shoulders. Pick a nickname. He is the Golden Boy. Captain America. Jokingly, in recent years, it’s been, “The LeBron James of Soccer”. The nicknames reflect both the pressure Pulisic has faced and how those hopes have changed as Pulisic’s career has aged.Pulisic has not impressed at Chelsea. Even with the U.S. over the qualification cycle, he was inconsistent. And yet, in the biggest moments, Pulisic has found ways to impact games — for club and country. He remains the biggest star in the sport back home.

Entering the World Cup, Pulisic had learned that he did not have to do everything for this U.S. team. The U.S. have welcomed a core of stars to their roster: Weston McKennieTyler Adams, Tim Weah, Sergino Dest, Gio Reyna, Yunus Musah and Brenden Aaronson among them.And yet Pulisic can never truly be just a cog in the machine. The U.S. ceiling is set by Pulisic. He is still the player most likely to turn a game on a dime. The player most capable of providing that ‘wow’ moment. And in his first World Cup game, Pulisic delivered.The moments he finds space on the ball are rare, and so as he got on the ball in midfield and was able to run at Wales in the 36th minute, you could sense something dangerous could happen. Indeed, Pulisic showed that game-changing savvy, taking an extra touch to pull two Welsh defenders one step closer to him, then slotting in a pass that put Weah in for his goal.In the second half, Pulisic continued to look dangerous, creating almost every decent opportunity for the U.S. It had been a five-year wait for Pulisic to get on this stage, and in that span the weight of his stardom has provided ups and downs. Even Pulisic has admitted some of how it has weighed on him. But in his first test at the World Cup, Pulisic looked up to the pressure — and more than capable of leading this U.S. team.


Page got his tactics wrong

James: There is no point sugarcoating it — Rob Page got his tactics badly wrong. It was a big call from the Wales coach to leave out Moore and pick Harry Wilson instead and it didn’t work. 

“I just think pace up top has got us success,” Page said beforehand, explaining his thinking. “I’ve got footballers in the middle of the park if I want to create space to hurt the opposition, and to do that I need quick players up top and DJ (Dan James) falls into that category.”That was the theory, but the reality was different. Wales were a team under siege in the opening 45 minutes, unable to retain possession, overrun in midfield and crying out for some sort of presence up front to give them an outlet in the face of the USMNT’s press. 

Instead, Moore was watching from the bench as Bale and James struggled to make any impression. James couldn’t make the ball stick, which is not his game anyway. As for Wilson and Aaron Ramsey, they were so high when Wales were trying to play out that it was easy for the U.S. to smother Ethan Ampadu and force their opponents into a long, hopeful ball that inevitably came to nothing.

Moore was introduced at the start of the second half — a change that was as predictable as the sight of the U.S. taking the lead nine minutes before the interval, when Weah ran onto Pulisic’s clever pass and finished coolly. 

Wales looked a totally different proposition with the Bournemouth striker leading the line.


Weah’s vertical movement paid off

Tenorio: The U.S. coach Berhalter had several tough decisions to make when it came to his starting line-up, among them whether to start Weah or Reyna on the wing opposite Pulisic.His decision to opt for Weah had a clear tactical justification behind it. The U.S. needed Weah to provide a threat in behind Wales’ back line, a verticality that Reyna typically doesn’t bring. With Pulisic preferring to check back into midfield or find the ball in the half spaces, and Josh Sargent preferring to receive the ball more often with his back to goal, Weah provided a level of danger that forced Wales to respect how much space they allowed behind them. 

(Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images)

The choice was not an obvious one, though. Reyna is undoubtedly one of the most talented attacking talents in the team and his creativity in the final third might have added an element against Wales’ low block to help a U.S. team that has typically struggled to break down opponents.Opting for Weah got exactly the result the U.S. had hoped when, in the 36th minute, Pulisic got on the ball in central midfield and drove at Wales’ back line. As the Welsh defenders moved to close Pulisic down, Weah sprinted into the space behind the centre-backs and Pulisic found him with a clever pass between the defenders. Weah then used the outside of his right foot to give the U.S. the lead.It was exactly the type of movement the U.S. and Berhalter would have imagined from Weah.


Midfield battle

Carey: Formations can often be misleading to represent what is actually occurring on the pitch, and it was difficult to determine what Wales’s midfield set up was across the game. Ampadu was anchoring the play, with Wilson to his left and Ramsey to his right. However, neither Wilson nor Ramsay are central midfielders in the typical sense, with both players’ attacking instincts meaning they were closer to the forward line than the midfield on plenty of occasions.That meant gaps opened when the U.S. had possession, and Wales were unable to cover the width of the pitch in central spaces.It is not Wales’s style to dominate the midfield. As covered in The Athletic’s World Cup group guides, Wales ranked bottom for possession (48.1 per cent) and open-play sequences of 10+ consecutive passes (78) during UEFA qualifying. However, this lack of presence in midfield meant that USA were able to dominate the central areas for long periods in the first half.By bringing Moore on at half-time, Wales were able to take the midfield out of the equation, play higher up the field and get their attack-minded players on the ball with more territorial dominance. The contrast between the first and second period was stark. Wales were good value for their equalising goal.

World Cup clinching scenarios: How USMNT can reach the Round of 16

By MLSsoccer staff @mls

Monday, Nov 21, 2022, 07:23 PM

22WC-US-clinch-scenarios

1-1 draw with Wales wasn’t the best way for the US men’s national team to kick off their 2022 World Cup campaign, but it did serve its purpose.By earning their first point of the tournament, the USMNT have the Round of 16 within reach with two more games remaining in Group B – first against England (Nov. 25) and then Iran (Nov. 29).Monday’s result, which came after LAFC superstar Gareth Bale’s 82nd-minute penalty canceled out Timothy Weah’s 36th-minute opener, ensures Gregg Berhalter and company still control their destiny.The Three Lions are currently top in the group after their 6-2 thrashing of Iran earlier in the day, giving them all three points. The US and Wales follow with a point apiece, while Iran have zero points to their name. Only the top two teams of each group advance to the knockout stage.

Scenarios

The US can neither advance nor be fully eliminated after they take on England on Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving – at Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar (2 pm ET | FOX, Telemundo).

However, the result will play a massive role in their overall chances. Below is a breakdown of the United States’ likelihood to advance based on potential point totals after all three of their matches:

  • 7 points (win next two matches): ADVANCE
  • 5 points (win one match, draw the other): Almost definitely ADVANCE
  • 4 points (win one match, lose the other): Could ADVANCE but need results to go their way
  • 3 points (draw next two matches): Almost definitely ELIMINATED
  • 2 points (draw one match, lose the other): ELIMINATED
  • 1 point (lose both matches): ELIMINATED

And here is a breakdown of their specific clinching scenarios depending on the result against England.

  • US beat England: They would advance to Round of 16 with a draw or win against Iran.
  • US tie England: They would advance to Round of 16 in most but not all scenarios with a win against Iran. They would be eliminated in most but not all scenarios with a draw against Iran. They would be eliminated with a loss against Iran.
  • US lose to England: They could advance to the Round of 16 with a win against Iran depending on results in other group stage games. They would be eliminated with a draw or loss against Iran.

Tiebreakers

In order of priority:

  1. Goal differential
  2. Goals scored
  3. Head-to-head result
  4. Goal differential in matches between tied teams (only in three-way tie)
  5. Goals scored in matches between tied teams (only in three-way tie)
  6. Fair play tiebreaker (based on negative points for yellow and red cards)
  7. Drawing lots

Regardless of Friday’s result, the USMNT will still have a chance to qualify for the Round of 16 when they take on Iran on Tuesday, Nov. 29 (2 pm ET | FOX, Telemundo).

Chance of advancing

Based on Group B’s Matchday 1 results, FiveThirtyEight gives the USMNT the second-best chance to advance.

What results do England, the USMNT and Wales need to advance at 2022 World Cup?

What results do England, the USMNT and Wales need to advance at 2022 World Cup?

By The Athletic UK Staff


Of the eight different 2022 World Cup groups, the one featuring England, the United States, Wales and Iran — group B — is mathematically the hardest, and therefore the most challenging to predict.It has the lowest average FIFA world ranking of any of the Qatar 2022 groups, with England (ranked fifth), USA (16th), Wales (19th) and Iran (20th) combining to give a ranking of just 15.In fact, it’s likely to be more difficult than any World Cup group we’ll see again because of the expansion to a 48-team World Cup from 2026, combined with increased geographical spread.It’s therefore not that surprising to find the group intriguingly poised after the first two fixtures. England hammered an underwhelming Iran 6-2, while the USMNT and Wales played out an entertaining 1-1 draw.But where do those opening results leave group B? And which team, the United States or Wales, should be happier with that draw in Doha? We take a look.


What happened on the opening day?

In the first fixture on the second day of the 2022 World Cup, England got their campaign off to a flying start with a thorough and conclusive 6-2 victory over Iran.

Jude Bellingham broke the deadlock in the first half, with Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling also scoring to give England a 3-0 lead at the break.

Even more goals came after the interval, with Saka getting his second, quickly followed by a consolation from Mehdi Taremi to make it 4-1.

Substitute Marcus Rashford made it 5-1 within minutes of being on the pitch, before Jack Grealish finished a flowing move in the 90th minute to cement England’s all-conquering performance.

The drama still wasn’t over though, as a last-kick Iran penalty completed the action.

Later on, it was Gareth Bale to the rescue for Wales in their opening game of the World Cup against the USMNT as the forward, who now plays in MLS for Los Angeles FC, scored a late penalty to cancel out Tim Weah’s first-half goal.

Christian Pulisic set Weah up brilliantly to put Gregg Berhalter’s side ahead at the Al Rayyan Stadium but Bale won a penalty with less than 10 minutes to go after a clumsy foul by USMNT centre-back Walker Zimmerman.

So who is left needing what?

Monday’s results were not surprising from a FIFA world rankings perspective. The strongest team in the group, England, beat the weakest, Iran. And the two sides in the middle played out a draw.Previous World Cups would suggest that both the United States and Wales need to beat at least one of England and Iran to qualify for the knockout stage. team could technically qualify for the knockouts with fewer than four points, of course. But studying the results of every World Cup since 1994 — when three points for a win was first introduced — shows that teams usually require at least four to progress.At the last World Cup, in Russia, both Argentina and Japan made it through to the knockout stage with four points: from a win, a draw and a defeat. The other six teams to qualify for the round of 16 as group stage runners-up collected either five or six points.In fact, since 1994 only one nation has qualified for the knockout stage with less than four points. That was Chile at the 1998 World Cup, who drew group stage matches against ItalyAustria and Cameroon, respectively.

Who are the favourites to progress?

Ahead of the World Cup, Nielsen’s Gracenote predicted every match of the tournament using a proprietary football ranking system. This allowed them to estimate the chances of different results for every possible match through extensive simulations, to assess the chances for each team to reach different stages of the tournament.This system correctly predicted that England would beat Iran, for example.Gracenote’s model predicts that, on Friday, England will beat the USA, while Iran are tipped to recover from their opening day setback to beat Wales.On the final day, it predicts England to beat Wales and the USA to overcome Iran.Should these predictions come to pass, England would top group B with a flawless nine points, with the USMNT securing passage to the knockout stage as group stage runners-up.Iran would finish third with Wales a disappointing fourth.

Why didn’t USMNT play Gio Reyna in World Cup vs. Wales?

By Charles Boehm @cboehm

  • Monday, Nov 21, 2022, 07:51 PM
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AL-RAYYAN, Qatar — Time will tell – the next eight days, specifically – as to whether Gregg Berhalter made the right call on his fifth and final substitution in Monday’s riveting 1-1 draw with Wales.The US men’s national team manager, in the first test of their 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign, replaced goalscorer Tim Weah with Jordan Morris rather than Gio Reyna as the Yanks hunted a late goal to snatch back the two points they admit they dropped via Gareth Bale’s late penalty-kick equalizer.With Berhalter attributing the choice to “some tightness we were guarding against,” presumably somewhere in Reyna’s perennially problematic hamstring and groin muscles, the Borussia Dortmund wunderkind might well have picked up a strain that could end his tournament in the first match. Perhaps saving the 20-year-old for upcoming matches vs. England (Nov. 25) and Iran (Nov. 29) will pay off in the end, if Reyna helps produce the results the USMNT need to advance out of Group B and reach the knockout stages. Or maybe Berhalter would have gone with Morris, the Seattle Sounders FC homegrown, even without the New York City FC academy product’s said tightness in the calculations. And it was an 88th-minute change, albeit in a game with 10-plus minutes of injury time. Was it really the key factor or a sidenote?

Berhalter, Reyna explain

But in the short term, it’s hard to avoid the distinct sense that Berhalter’s entire four-plus-year tenure could hinge on that one decision – especially since his version of the situation did not exactly synchronize with Reyna. “It was trying to get him up to speed. There was some tightness we were guarding against,” said Berhalter of Reyna’s status in his postgame press conference at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, adding he’ll be ready to face Group B leaders England on Friday. “In the phase of the game we were at, we went with Jordan, who we felt could give us speed and power.”Reyna acknowledged there was some tightness after the Yanks’ scrimmage vs. Qatari Stars League side Al-Gharafa SC, the club whose stadium is serving as the USMNT’s World Cup training facility, on Thursday. But as Reyna spoke to reporters in the mixed zone, he left little doubt that he considered himself ready to play against Wales, which captain Tyler Adams confirmed, simply terming his teammate “available” but unused.“No, I feel great. I feel really good. I feel ready to go,” said Reyna, who played in just four of 14 Concacaf qualifiers amid injuries. “I felt good, I felt ready to go but it was just his [Berhalter’s] decision.“He doesn’t have to tell me why he didn’t put me in or why he does. But I’m 100 percent. I’m good to go.”Morris explained the coach’s message to him as he replaced Weah, whose 36th-minute strike was the USMNT’s first World Cup goal in eight-plus years. “My role there was to try and come in, be dangerous and try to help score a goal, whether that’s an assist or a goal, and just try to do my best to help the team win the game,” said the MLS standout.“We needed to make sure that we got a result in that sense. We come out with a draw, but we were definitely pushing for a win.”

England awaits

Now a daunting encounter with England, the group’s favorites even before their impressive 6-2 thrashing of Iran, looms. A politically charged affair with the Islamic Republic will arrive quickly after on Tuesday. Every point will be precious for the second-youngest team at this World Cup.“To have that [Weah] goal, and then feel like you have the game and you’re going to win the game,” said Brenden Aaronson, “it’s a punch in the face, you know? That’s what it is. And it’s just tough, but we’ve got to move on and look at the positives and look at film on what we can do even better defensively.”

Guillermo Ochoa, Andrés Guardado Join Exclusive World Cup Five-Timers Club

Anne M. Peterson

Mon, November 21, 2022 at 2:57 PM

Guillermo Ochoa, Andrés Guardado Join Exclusive World Cup Five-Timers Club originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa says people still come up to him on the street to gush about his performance in the 2014 World Cup against Brazil.

Ochoa made six saves in the scoreless draw with Brazil, which was among the favorites as the tournament’s host. He even denied Brazilian star Neymar on a header and afterward called it the “game of a lifetime.”

“I feel really grateful to be recognized globally, that means you have done good work,” Ochoa said Tuesday.

A towering fixture on Mexico’s roster since 2005, the 6-foot goalkeeper recalled the match eight years ago as he prepared to play in his fifth World Cup. Mexico opens the tournament on Tuesday against Poland in Group C. Argentina and Saudi Arabia are also in the group.

“I have seen how he plays in the World Cups and he has always been a genius. I especially remember what happened in 2014 and, to be honest, he is an excellent goalkeeper, with a lot of experience, Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny said.

Ochoa is among four players in Qatar who will join an exclusive group with five World Cup appearances, including Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Mexico teammate Andrés Guardado.

Before Qatar, there were only four players in the five-time club: Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon, Germany’s Lothar Matthaus and Mexico’s Antonio Carbajal and Rafa Márquez.

Guardado and Ochoa hold the distinction of being the first teammates to play together in five straight World Cups.

Both made their debuts with the Mexican national team on Dec. 14, 2005, a 2-0 friendly victory over Hungary.

“I think that by being in my fifth World Cup I am lucky,” Ochoa said through an interpreter. “On top of that, being in a World Cup is never easy for a footballer. There are great players throughout history who don’t have the opportunity. For me, playing in five has been wonderful.”

Mexico has appeared in the last eight World Cups and has advanced to the knockout round in the last seven.

Mexico also has oldest player at the World Cup, fellow goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera, who is 40. Ochoa is 37, while Guardado is 36.

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