After a disappointing 1-1 draw with Wales, this World Cup won’t get any easier for the US Men’s National Team (USMNT).
A promising first-half performance and a well-placed goal by Timothy Weah were wiped out by a late penalty from Gareth Bale on Monday as the young USMNT team were denied a win at the start of their campaign in Qatar.
Next up is England, favorites for top spot in Group B, who thrashed Iran 6-2 earlier this week – an ominous sign for Wales and the USMNT in their play-off bids.
But win or draw against England, and US coach Gregg Berhalter will know that a place in the next round could be within his team’s reach against Iran.
It will be the biggest challenge the so-called “Golden Generation” USMNT has faced under Berhalter and arguably an era-defining game for a team that has struggled for form throughout the qualifying rounds.
“We know what quality England will have. But then again, we think we’re handling them well,” Team USA captain Tyler Adams said earlier this week, according to ESPN.
“We have a sports team. We think sometimes we really dominate against the ball. Did you see it [against Wales] with our counterpressing and how we can create a lot of transitional opportunities.”
Friday’s game will take place at Al-Bayt Stadium in Al-Khor City and kick off at 2:00 pm ET.
You need to go back to 2002, the last time the USMNT defeated a European opponent in the World Cup, although at the 2010 tournament in South Africa it secured a 1-1 draw against England.
Otherwise, the results were generally in England’s favor, winning eight of the 11 meetings, with one more victory to guarantee the winner of the 1996 World Cup a play-off spot.
The good news for manager Gareth Southgate is that captain Harry Kane is ready to play after having his ankle scanned earlier this week, while Berhalter could turn to 20-year-old Giovanni Reina to bolster his team’s offense.
Reina was an unused substitute against Wales and said his fitness is “really good” as he has suffered from injuries in recent months.
Wales and Iran compete in another Group B game on Friday when they face off at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
Despite being close in the FIFA rankings, Rob Page’s team from Wales will be confident of victory after England exposed Iran’s defensive weaknesses on Monday. For both teams, it’s like a game that needs to be won to qualify for the playoffs.
Host Qatar also returned on Friday against Senegal, two nations that had been defeated in their opening matches. Qatar lost 2-0 to Ecuador and Senegal lost 2-0 to the Netherlands.
These two winning teams will be aiming for two wins out of two when they meet at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Wales vs. Iran – 5:00 AM ET
Qatar vs Senegal – 8am ET
Netherlands – Ecuador – 11:00 AM ET
England – USA – 2pm ET
USA: Fox Sports
UK: BBC or ITV
Germany: ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Telekom
Canada: Bell Media
South Africa: SABC