Gareth Bale "fully fit" for Wales' World Cup opener vs. USMNT

Gareth Bale Wales

Gareth Bale battled some injury troubles during the back half of LAFC’s 2022 MLS season, though he’s declared himself ready to lead Wales into the World Cup.

"I'm fully fit, ready to go,” Bale said at a news conference Monday. “If I need to play three 90s, I'll be playing three 90s.”

The Dragons are entering their first World Cup in 64 years, last competing at the 1958 tournament in Sweden and making the quarterfinals – more than three decades before Bale was even born.

Now, the 33-year-old forward plans to give manager Rob Page every second necessary in their Group B opener Nov. 21 against the United States (2 pm ET | FOX, Telemundo,, Peacock). They also face Iran (Nov. 25) and England (Nov. 29), with the top two finishers reaching the 16-team knockout rounds.

Bale, who captains Wales, has a nation-leading 40 goals across 108 career caps.

“I think on paper we have the hardest group in the World Cup,” Bale said. “ … Every team that has qualified is there for a reason. They've qualified on merit and every game is going to be difficult.”

Bale last played on Nov. 5, scoring a legendary extra-time equalizer in MLS Cup 2022 against the Philadelphia Union. His 128th-minute header forced a 3-3 draw and penalty kicks, in which the Black & Gold prevailed before their home fans.

Bale only compiled around 350 regular-season minutes across 12 matches (with two goals), though stepped up when LAFC needed him most – much like the former Tottenham and Real Madrid star so often has during his trophy-filled career.

But like most players, Bale said it’s been hard not to think about injury concerns that have ruled numerous global stars out of the World Cup.

“I guess for everybody, the last three or four weeks, it's been difficult, even hearing stories of players going down and knowing they're going to miss the World Cup,” Bale said.

"Speaking to a few of the boys, even them having to play this weekend was tough mentally, and we're just praying not to have an injury at all because this is such a big occasion."

Bale, who signed for LAFC in late June, always had an eye on maintaining health and form ahead of Wales’ historic World Cup return. He’s itching to seize this opportunity in Qatar, knowing what it means for his country.

“For me, growing up and watching the World Cup, I never had a team to really support,” Bale said. “It was always watching these big teams play in this amazing tournament.

“But for the kids now, to be able to have Wales, their country, being able to watch them and have the actual poster up on the wall to mark at each game, it will be incredible. It'll definitely inspire another generation now of kids to really love and get into football.”