The United States Men’s National Team kick off their campaign at Qatar 2022 on Monday when they take on Wales in their 2022 FIFA World Cup opener. Team USA missed out on the 2018 World Cup, while Wales played in the game’s international showcase just once before when they reached the quarterfinals in 1958. The Americans have played in the World Cup nine times, reaching the Round of 16 in four of them.
Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. ET at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Ar-Rayyan, Qatar.
In what is likely the game to decide one of Group B’s two qualifiers, the United States and Wales open their tournament with a critical matchup on the tournament’s first full day.
Such a vital match is rarely played this early in the tournament, but with the U.S. and Wales expected to duke it out behind group favourites England, there’s a tense feel about this contest.
Both sides enter the tournament in worrying form. The United States slogged through a pair of brutal pre-World Cup friendlies against Japan and Saudi Arabia in September that were deeply troubling, while Wales have suffered three straight Nations League defeats and have not won since the 1-0 victory over Ukraine that secured World Cup qualification.
Still, both sides are amongst the top 20 teams in the world according to FIFA, and both will have visions of the knockout stage. A draw would do each side a world of good, but a win would see the victor put one foot in the Round of 16 already.
There were a few surprise omissions from the USA squad as well as a couple of interesting inclusions. Goalkeeper Zack Steffen wasn’t selected in the end despite his good form for Middlesbrough with Sean Johnson of New York City being favoured instead. Defenders Reggie Cannon and Miles Robinson both missed out but the relatively inexperienced Joe Scally of Monchengladbach was picked to go to Qatar. The other surprise absentees were Sebastian Lletget, Paul Arriola, and Gyasi Zardes who were replaced by the likes of Haji Wright who only has 3-caps for his country.
Robert Page went with largely the squad selection most expected of him, though, there was no room for QPR’s Tyler Roberts or Sheffield Wednesday’s Will Vaulks. Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey provide the goal threat from midfield while Kieffer Moore or Brennan Johnson will likely lead the line as the lone striker. The defence is packed with experience no more so than Chris Gunter who has 109-caps but isn’t likely to start any of the group games. Wayne Hennessy hasn’t played much first-team football this season and there is a good chance that Danny Ward will get the nod to start between the sticks as he has played a big part in Leicester’s season so far.
USA vs. Wales team news
The United States is essentially fully fit coming into the World Cup, with only defender Miles Robinson out injured after his Achilles tears back in May. Otherwise, Gregg Berhalter could not have asked for better news, with Tim Weah and Gio Reyna both fit after long-term problems with injury. Just the niggle to Sergio Dest remains a worry, but there are a multitude of right-back options on the U.S. roster if he can’t feature.
For Wales, it’s a similar story, and head coach Rob Page will be happy to see that only midfielder Joe Allen will give him any worries. The Swansea City man has not played since mid-September thanks to a hamstring injury, but Joe Morrell, Dylan Levitt, and Ethan Ampadu are all set to take over if needed.
USA vs. Wales key stats
These two sides have met twice, both in friendlies, with the U.S. winning one and the other ending in a draw.
Wales is in their first World Cup since 1985, while the U.S. is back after missing out on the 2018 tournament.
Brenden Aaronson is the only player in the entire Premier League this season with multiple tackles won inside the opposition penalty area. According to FBRef, he’s the leader amongst wingers & attacking midfielders in defensive actions that lead to goals in Europe’s top-five leagues.
USA vs. Wales match facts
Date: Monday, November 21
Kickoff Time: 2:00 pm ET / 7:00 pm GMT / 6:00 am AEDT (Tue, Nov. 22)
Location: Al Rayyan Stadium
USA Vs Wales Prediction
The United States is one of the teams heading into the tournament without a huge amount of positive energy, something which the Welsh team can tend to almost exclusively trade on.
Still, a nervy and edgy affair is most likely to start both teams’ campaigns.
A Draw is the best prediction for this game.