For the first time in eight years, the U.S. men’s national team is playing in a FIFA World Cup, in a crucial opening match with Wales.
The Group B match kicked off at 2 p.m. Eastern time.
After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the U.S. returns to the tournament with a fresh look: Only one player of the 26 on the roster has ever played in a World Cup match, and the team is one of the youngest squads in the entire event.
The U.S. is turning to its young stars who have honed their skills playing in high-level European leagues – including Christian Pulisic, the 24-year-old phenom winger with Chelsea, and team captain Tyler Adams, the 23-year-old midfielder for Leeds United.
Here we go. 🇺🇸
Full Lineup Notes » https://t.co/DvhSXPvqRy#USMNT x @Visa pic.twitter.com/V8VpU1oBMG
— U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team (@USMNT) November 21, 2022
Monday’s opponent Wales has been out of the World Cup for even longer – this year is its first appearance since 1958. But the team’s performance in recent years, under the leadership of captain Gareth Bale, has impressed many. At #19, it is ranked just three spots behind the U.S.
Both teams see today as a critical match to win in their difficult road out of the competitive Group B. No other group has a higher average FIFA ranking than Group B at 15, led by England, a favorite to win the entire tournament.
🇺🇸🏴 | STARTING XI
HANES! CWPAN Y BYD! #ArBenYByd | #FIFAWorldCup | #TogetherStronger pic.twitter.com/IGtOt7HJsL
— Wales 🏴 (@Cymru) November 21, 2022
Today’s game was already important for both teams – since 1998, 84% of teams who win their opening match are able to move on from the group stage.
But with England looking dominant in a 6-2 win over Iran, it appears to be a near-lock to leave the group – leaving Wales, the U.S. and Iran all jockeying for the second spot.