USA falter as Bale clinches a point for Wales

The USA and Wales held a tight, tense draw in the World Cup opener as both sides will be quite happy with that result in Group B.

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But the USA will feel Gareth Bale leveled for Wales (playing in their first World Cup game since 1958) with eight minutes remaining as the young Americans failed to keep all three points.

After eight years away from the World Cup for the USA, this was predictably tense as Bale clinched a point late on for the Welsh as a draw was a fair result.

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After a dominant start, USA took the lead in the first half when Christian Pulisic rushed forward and played a perfect through ball to oncoming Tim Weah, who shot home confidently to send American fans everywhere wild.

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Wales improved drastically in the second half when Kieffer Moore gave them a focus point up and he somehow headed wide from close range after Matt Turner denied Ben Davies. Walker Zimmerman then made a terrible challenge to Bale and the Wales captain scrambled to hammer home the penalty to take a point.

The USMNT meets England in their next group game on Friday, while Wales meet Iran on the same day.

[ MORE: Latest Group B standings, schedule, scores ]


Berhalter’s master plan starts off well, then fades badly

In recent years, the USMNT has been largely affected by injuries and a lack of form among its key players. But at the perfect time, everything came together for Gregg Berhalter and his team, at least in the first 45 minutes. Dest and McKennie were fit enough to start, Tim Ream has been in the form of his life to bolster defense. Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah are fit and firing on all cylinders and this comes pretty close to being the USMNT’s first pick.

Playing with high pressure, Wales dominated the first half and this young side’s energy blew away their opponents. When they were up they scored the goal they deserved and everything came together for the USA when they needed it. But then they stopped. Whether it’s lacking experience or energy, the USMNT faltered in the second half as Wales missed two big chances before equalizing late on. This was a case where the US had a golden opportunity for victory within their reach, but they let it pass in a rather tame way. That will disappoint Berhalter but there were many positives from their performance in the first half.


stars of the show

Tim Riem: Dominant in defense and 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 effect he had after coming on at half-time. Gave Wales a focus and turned the game around.

Graphic via FotMob.com

like watching USA vs Wales live! – By Joe Prince-Wright

kicking off: 2 p.m. ET, Monday (Nov. 21)
Stadion: Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels in EspaΓ±ol: Telemundo
stream in Spanish: peacock (all 64 games)

There has been much talk as to why Gio Reyna was not brought on (he told reporters he is 100 per cent fit) and it seems Gregg Berhalter preferred Jordan Morris to the talented young playmaker.

FULL-TIME: USA 1 Wales – Disappointing finish for the USMNT who were excellent but fair to Wales in the first half, defended well and deserved that point. That sets things up for a very tense Group B.

TORL! No, is the answer. Walker Zimmerman goes through Gareth Bale’s back and gives away a penalty. Bale then picks himself up and slams home. 1-1

tick tock Just over 10 minutes left. Can the US hold out!?

Brenden Aaronson for McKennie. The Leeds midfielder will need to help them get the ball and stop Wales from pushing forward.

CLOSE! Somehow Kieffer heads over Moore from close range. What a chance for Wales.

Wales started the second half well and the USMNT has to spend a lot of time defending.

TORL! Tim Weah with a great finish after a great run and pass from Christian Pulisic. The USMNT get the target their dominant display deserves.

Sergino Dest and Weston McKennie both booked within minutes. Not ideal. Both have been struggling for fitness and only just made this game. Change at halftime?

Save on computer! Wayne Hennessey saves as Rodon heads for his own goal after good work from Tim Weah. Sargent then drives a close-range header. The US needs to make the most of being up here.

A solid start from the USA. Wales were unable to keep the ball and the Americans hit it well.

Here we go! The teams are on their way, the anthems are sung and the fireworks are flying. It’s go time for the USA at the World Cup.


USMNT, Wales starting XI


Major storylines, players to watch closely

For the USMNT, their midfield core will be their strength, but there are still many question marks in defence. The experienced Tim Ream could start as a central defender to gain experience, while the midfield trio of Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Yunus Musah are firmly established as the key men in midfield. Ahead of them, Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Brenden Aaronson and Tim Weah are all fighting for a starting midfield spot, but there’s no clear winner starting as number 9, so maybe the USMNT will start with a false nine?

In terms of injuries, Sergino Dest, Matt Turner and Weston McKennie have all been training after ironing out recent injuries. However, Gregg Berhalter said both Dest and McKennie are unlikely to play the full 90 minutes and said they are not fully fit for the opener against Wales. It was also announced that Tyler Adams has been named captain of the USMNT for the tournament.

Wales love to sit low and take pressure and the back three and fluid system will be tough for the USMNT to break. Going forward, the quality of Ramsey and Bale speaks for itself and Wales will rely heavily on set pieces and turning in crosses to allow Kieffer Moore to attack. Also watch out for Harry Wilson and Daniel James in the attacking zones. Wales are a resilient, experienced team and they are very good at sitting back and then counterattacking. Their nation expects them to drop out of this group and that game against the USMNT will be so close. Wales are looking pretty good injury wise with Joe Allen training alone as he recovers from a recent hamstring problem and will not be available for the game.


USA quick facts

Current FIFA World Ranking: 16
World title: 0
World Cup participations: 9th
How they qualified: Automatically qualified by CONCACAF (3rd place)
Trainer: Gregg Berhalter
Key players: Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams


Wales quick facts

Current FIFA World Ranking: 19th
World title: 0
World Cup participations: 1
How they qualified: Qualified by UEFA via Playoffs, Path B
Coach: Rob Page
Key players: Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies


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