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USA and Wales Draw in First World Cup Match

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United States Men’s National Team | Image by Getty Images

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The United States Men’s National Team faced Wales in the team’s first matches of the 2022 World Cup and earned a 1–1 draw to give both sides a point in the competition. England defeated Iran 6–2 earlier in the day to establish themselves as the leaders of Group B.

Key Takeaways:

  • US Forward Timothy Weah opened the scoring with a goal in the 36th.
  • Wales tied the match following a penalty in the 83rd minute on a shot from Gareth Bale.
  • The USMNT held the ball longer, completed more passes, and were more accurate passing, but were outshot by Wales.

The USMNT scored the game’s first goal on a sharp crossing pass from Christian Pulisic to Timothy Weah, who deftly stepped over a sliding defender and tapped the ball into the net. The goal came at the 36-minute mark of the match but proved to be not enough to earn the US a win.

“I saw the ball come to Christian,’ Weah said to Fox Sports. ‘And as we trained, we practiced that once he gets the ball, I make those runs in behind. Timed it really well; Christian gave me a beautiful ball, and it was up to me to finish it.”

In the second half, Wales finally got going, pressuring the US team consistently. Goalkeeper Matt Turner made several key saves, including a powerful shot that he was able to engage with the palm of his hand to push the shot over the crossbar.

Wales took seven shots to the US team’s six, with three Wales opportunities on goal. Only one shot by the Americans was on target, though it resulted in points.

“In the first half, we had a lot of energy, a lot of momentum. We had a lot of good possession,” Weah said. “Coming into the second half, I feel like we kind of bowed down, and Wales turned it up a notch.”

“They started pressing us, and they had most of the ball,” he added. “At the end, that’s what really hurt us.”

Wales tied the match late in the second half on a penalty kick after defender Walker Zimmerman attempted a slide tackle from behind Wales star Gareth Bale and took the forward to the ground inside the box.

Bale had a one-on-one and beat Turner on the keeper’s left side by mere inches. The penalty goal came at the 82-minute mark, leaving little time for a response from the US team.

Earning the tie prevented both teams from dropping to the bottom of Group B to join Iran. The draw kept both teams in the competition, but the US team will next face the most daunting of challenges in the opening group when they take the pitch against England.

Widely considered one of the top teams in the competition, England already demonstrated the dominance the team plays with by defeating Iran.

Local favorite Jesus Ferreira was a substitute in the match but did not see playing time. Head coach Gregg Berhalter said earlier in the week that the US team would not use “their youth as an excuse” for poor performance but largely kept his main stars on the field throughout the first match.

The USMNT will square off against England on Friday, November 25, and will need at least a draw to remain competitive. With only three games to determine the top two teams, every point will be vital in the match.

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