What a day of FIFA World Cup Action! On the second day of the group stage, we saw the remaining Group A teams play and all of Group B. England started things off with an amazing 6-2 demolition of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Then Group A finished their first matches with The Netherlands besting Senegal 2-0. The last match of the day, arguably the most anticipated game of the World Cup so far, The United States vs Wales, ended in a 1-1 draw.
The US Men’s National Team returned to the World Cup after not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup In Russia. The Welsh team hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since 1958. To say that both teams had a lot riding on this opening match would be an understatement. The US Men’s National Team and Welsh squads had amazing moments, and we’re going to look at them all. Let’s break down how the USMNT earns a 1-1 draw against Wales.
Missed and Questionable Calls Went Both Ways
The match was truly a tale of two halves the first controlled by the US, the second controlled by Wales. The officiating of the match was called into question by the players the crowd and the commentators. It seemed the US couldn’t get a call for a moment, but the officials quickly started missing calls for both sides. Now that the elephant in the stadium has been addressed here are the highlights of the first half.
US Men’s National Team Dominates The First Half
The USMNT controlled the ball for most of the half. Every time the Welsh team stole it away the US would quickly regain control. The USMNT got 3 Yellow Cards early in the first half setting tone for the match, you could see a few of the US player’s physically pulling back a bit to make sure to not get another Yellow Card. The attack of the young US squad seemed relentless at times. Even though mistakes were made and headers were missed, it only took a matter of minutes for the US to get another shot for a goal.
What the Welsh lacked in offensive pressure they made up for in defensive poise. It was easy to tell which team had more experience. They interrupted the US set pieces with relative ease, and they were more capable of selling their fouls. Despite their best defensive effort, USMNT’s Tim Weah scored the first goal of the match giving the US a 1-0 lead going into halftime.
Tim Weah Makes His Historic Father Proud
Tim Weah became the 23rd man to score a goal for the US with a spectacular goal off the outside of his right foot straight to the back of the net. Weah is continuing a family tradition of football excellence. His father Liberian President George Weah, never got the chance to participate in the World Cup but he was named African Footballer of the year three times. Other accolades include being the first African to win the Ballon d’Or and being named FIFA World Player of the Year in 1995.
Leading after 45. #USMNT x @Visa pic.twitter.com/i3Ltsqe2lx— U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (@USMNT) November 21, 2022
Wales Responds In The Second Half
The second half may as well have been a completely different match. The Welsh showed off their experience and grit. Controlling the ball most of the second half the Welsh put the USMNT on their heels quite a bit. Wales took three shots at goal two of which resulted in heroic saves by US goalkeeper Matt Turner, the other was a goal by Gareth Bale tying the match 1-1.
Gareth Bale Ties It 1-1
Gareth Bale has had a storied career in Europe. The former Real Madrid player played alongside Ronaldo for five seasons before he made his move to the MLS. He won the MLS Championship with his squad LAFC earlier this year. His goal against the US was his 41st goal for Wales.
👏 Gareth Bale just doesn't let Wales down 👏#BBCWorldCup #FIFAWorldCup pic.twitter.com/IpoUmNBO6O— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) November 21, 2022
A Draw Keeps The Peace For One Fan
Fans in the US and Wales both hoped to come out of this one with a win. However, for one fan a draw may have been the best possible outcome. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Mythic Quest star Rob McElhenney is an avid sports fan from the birthplace of US independence Philadelphia and co-owner of a Welsh football club, Wrexham AFC. McElhenney along with co-owner Ryan Reynolds have become unofficial ambassadors of Welsh culture but as a proud US citizen, I’m sure it was tough to root against either team. A draw works perfectly in his favor. Luckily for Reynolds, he won’t have to pick a side unless Canada and Wales face off in the knockout rounds.
🇺🇸 🤝 🏴 Now let’s both go give ‘em all hell! See you soon England and Iran…— Rob McElhenney (@RMcElhenney) November 21, 2022
What’s Next for the US Men’s National Team and Wales?
Both teams from today’s match will play again on Friday. Wales will take on the Islamic Republic of Iran and the US will square off against Group B leader England. As it stands now England is at the top of the Group B board with 3 points. The US and Wales are tied for 2nd with 1 point each. IR Iran is at the bottom with zero points. If you’re having trouble understanding the World Cup Format we explained everything just click here.