USA falters as Bale takes the point for Wales

The USA and Wales battled to a close and tense draw in their World Cup opener, as both teams will be quite happy with that result in Group B.

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But the United States will look like this was what pulled it off when Gareth Bale equalized with eight minutes remaining for Wales (playing in their first World Cup match since 1958) as the young Americans couldn’t hold on for all three points.

After eight years away from the World Cup for the USA this was as tense as you would expect as Bale grabbed a point for the late Welshman as a draw was a fair result.

WATCH THE FULL REPLAY OF THE MATCH

After a dominant start, the USA took the lead in the first half when Christian Pulisic surged forward and played a perfect through ball to the quiet Tim Weah, who drove home with confidence to send the American fans everywhere.

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Wales improved dramatically in the second half as Kieffer Moore gave them a focal point up top and somehow headed wide from close range moments after Matt Turner denied Ben Davies. Walker Zimmerman then delivered a terrible challenge on Bale and the Welsh captain rose to tap home the penalty kick to take a point.

The USMNT take on England in their next group match on Friday, while Wales take on Iran on the same day.

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


Berhalter’s master plan starts out well, then fizzles out badly

For most of the past few years the USMNT has been plagued by injuries and the lack of form of its key players. But at the right time everything went right, at least for the first 45 minutes, for Gregg Berhalter and his team. Dest and McKennie were fit enough to start, Tim Ream hitting the waist form of him to bolster the defensive unit. Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah are fit and firing on all cylinders and that’s pretty close to the USMNT’s first-round lineup.

High-pressing play dominated Wales in the first half and the energy of this young team blew their opponents away. When they were at the top they got the goal they deserved and everything fell into place for the US when they needed it. But then they failed. Whether it was a lack of experience or lack of energy, the USMNT caved in the second half as Wales missed two great chances before equalizing late on. This was a case where the United States had a golden opportunity for victory at its fingertips, but rather tamely let it slip. That will disappoint Berhalter, but there were plenty of positives to be taken from their first-half performance.


Star of the show

Tim Ream: Dominant in defense and was so calm on the ball in the first half that he kept the pressure on Wales. What a comeback story for the 35-year-old.

Kiefer Moore: What impact did he have after coming on at half time. He gave Wales a focal point and turned the game around.

Graphics via FotMob.com

How to watch United States versus Wales inhabit! – By Joe Prince-Wright

kick off: 2:00 PM ET, Monday (November 21)
Stage: Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels in Spanish: Telemundo
stream in Spanish: peacock (all 64 games)

There has been a lot of talk about why Gio Reyna didn’t come in (he told reporters he’s 100% fit) and it seems Gregg Berhalter preferred Jordan Morris over the talented young playmaker.

FULL TIME: USA – Wales 1-1 – Disappointing final for the USMNT who were very good in the first half but fair play to Wales, they fought back valiantly and deserved that point. This sets things up for a very tense Group B.

GOALLL! No, that’s the answer. Walker Zimmerman crosses Gareth Bale’s back and gives away a penalty. Bale then gets back up and bangs home. 1-1.

TIC Tac. Only about 10 minutes left. Can the United States Resist!?

Brenden Aaronson comes on for McKennie. The Leeds midfielder must help them get the ball and stop Wales from advancing.

TO CLOSE! Somehow Kieffer Moore headers from close range. What an opportunity for Wales.

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

GOALLL! Tim Weah with a superb finish after a great run and a pass from Christian Pulisic. The USMNT gets the focus its commanding display deserves.

Sergino Dest and Weston McKennie both booked within minutes. Not ideal. They both struggled with fitness and just made this game. Do you change at half time?

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

A good start from the USA. Wales have not been able to keep the ball and the Americans are batting well.

Here we are! The teams are out, the anthems have been sung and the fireworks are flying. It’s time to go for the USA to the World Cup.


USMNT, Wales starter XI


Key storylines, players to watch closely

For the USMNT their midfield core will be their strength, but there are still many question marks surrounding the defence. Veteran Tim Ream could start at centre-back to provide experience, while the midfield trio of Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Yunus Musah are stuck as the main men in midfield. Ahead of them Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Brenden Aaronson and Tim Weah are all battling for a starting place in attacking midfield, but there is no clear winner to start as number one. 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 recovering from recent injuries. However, Gregg Berhalter said it was unlikely either Dest or McKennie would play the full 90 minutes and said they weren’t fully fit for the opener against Wales. It was also announced that Tyler Adams was named USMNT captain for the tournament.

Wales love to sit deep and soak up pressure and their threes and fluid back system will be hard for the USMNT to break down. Going forward, the quality of Ramsey and Bale speaks for itself and Wales will rely heavily on set-piece situations and crosses for Kieffer Moore to attack. Also watch out for Harry Wilson and Daniel James in the frontcourts. Wales are a robust and experienced side and they are very good at sitting down and then launching counter-attacks. Their nation expects them to break out of this group and this game against the USMNT will be that close to calling. Injury wise Wales are looking pretty good with Joe Allen training on his own as he recovers from a recent hamstring problem and will be unavailable for this match.


Fast facts in the US

Current FIFA world ranking: 16
World titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 9
How they qualified: Automatically qualified by CONCACAF (3rd place)
Coach: Gregg Berhalter
Key Players: Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams


Wales facts in brief

Current FIFA world ranking: 19
World titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 1
How they qualified: qualified by UEFA via playoffs, Path B
Coach: Robert Page
Key players: Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies


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