How to watch and stream
- TV: FOX, Telemundo
- Streaming: Foxsports.com, Peacock
- Monday, Nov. 21 | 2 pm ET/11 am PT
- Ahmad bin Ali Stadium | Al Rayyan, Qatar
The USMNT are in their first World Cup since Brazil 2014, having failed to qualify for Russia 2018. This return was booked by finishing third in Concacaf’s qualification stage, behind regional rivals Canada and Mexico.
Against Wales, points are at a premium for head coach Gregg Berhalter’s team to avoid an uphill climb in upcoming Group B games against England (Nov. 25) and Iran (Nov. 29).
While they’re above the Dragons in FIFA’s World Rankings (16 vs. 19), the European country derives motivation from being at their first World Cup in 64 years.
There’s ample pressure abound as this rare late-fall World Cup begins in the Middle East, shifted to account for extreme heat that’d be present during the quadrennial tournament’s normal June and July months.
Expect the USMNT to deploy a 4-3-3 of some variation, Berhalter’s go-to formation since the former Columbus Crew manager took over the program in December 2018. Tactics aside, a World Cup is about getting results at all costs – only Group B’s top two teams will advance to the knockout stages and march toward the Dec. 18 final at Lusail Stadium.
To get there, and unlike throughout most of qualifying, the USMNT have most of their first-choice squad healthy and available (aside from injured center backs Miles Robinson and Chris Richards). Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner, Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman, Leeds United midfielder Tyler Adams, Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie, Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic and more all project as huge pieces in the pressure-packed moments ahead.
The USMNT will also be the second-youngest squad in Qatar (25 years, 175 days) – they’re surpassed only by African powerhouse Ghana – and have just one player (Inter Miami CF fullback DeAndre Yedlin; one of nine MLSers on the 26-man roster) with any World Cup experience. Borussia Dortmund attacker Gio Reyna and Valencia midfielder Yunus Musah, now 20 or on the cusp of that two-decade milestone, are two shining lights of this new, talent-rich generation.
Form isn’t on the USMNT’s side, as they failed to score across September friendlies against Japan (2-0 loss) and Saudi Arabia (0-0 draw), a pair of World Cup participants from Asia. But they showed well in June friendlies against Africa’s Morocco (3-0 win) and South America's Uruguay (0-0 draw), two others in the 32-team field.
Which version of the USMNT will show up? That’ll dictate where the American mood sits Monday afternoon, before two more Group B games decide the Yanks’ path at the quadrennial tournament.
Wales have waited a lifetime for this moment – quite literally. The Dragons last qualified for a World Cup in 1958, and now they’re back after beating Ukraine in a UEFA playoff to secure one of the tournament’s last spots.
Don’t expect Wales to be awed by this occasion, though. They reached the semifinals at the 2016 Euros and manager Rob Page is overseeing a golden generation, one spearheaded by LAFC forward Gareth Bale. The ex-Real Madrid superstar says he’s “fully fit” and if needed, ready to play three 90-minute games in Group B.
But it’s not just Bale, the program’s all-time leading goalscorer (40), steering this opportunity. Bournemouth forward Kieffer Moore, Nice midfielder Aaron Ramsey, Tottenham defender Ben Davies and Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey are all key veterans who are battle-tested.
Wales are a Premier League-heavy squad, one the USMNT manager has cautioned Americans must not underestimate. Those could prove sage words, as there’s a good chance this game decides which Group B team books its knockout round place alongside favorites England.
From a tactical lens, look for Wales to play on the counter-attack and bunker in defensively when needed. They’ve got quality and are deserving qualifiers.
The USMNT are deemed slight favorites, per BetMGM.
- USA win: +155
- Draw: +200
- Wales win +200
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