After eight years of waiting, the United States Men’s National Team will get the kind of high-profile matchup it has wanted when the team faces England on Friday at Al Khor, Qatar.
While England jumped to the top of Group B with a dominating 6-2 victory over Iran on Monday, the USMNT had to settle for a disheartening 1-1 draw with Wales.
It was an opening game the United States viewed as winnable, and the squad played like it in the first half with an aggressive offense against the passive approach from Wales. But the early approach only yielded a goal from Tim Weah goal and a change in tactics from Wales led to Gareth Bales’ 82nd minute penalty kick.
England has three points and an important plus-4 in the goal differential tiebreaker. The U.S. and Wales have a point and Iran has none. The top two teams from the eight groups move to the single-elimination round. Iran plays Wales on Friday.
If the U.S. doesn’t secure at least a point against England, it will go into the final match against Iran on Tuesday no better than third place, although Wales must still close out group play with a meeting against England.
U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner is confident of a result, which might not be necessary to advance but would go a long way toward earning a spot in the next round.
“Obviously, England is a great team,” he said. “They scored a lot of goals (Monday), and they’ve had tremendous success at international tournaments. So, they have a lot of quality and it’s going to take a great effort, but I can’t sit here and say we have no chance. Otherwise, why am I playing?”
England expects to be at full strength with the news that captain Harry Kane is healthy after a scan Wednesday showed no damage to his right foot. He exited in the 75th minute of the Iran match moments after a tackle left him limping.
“I think he is good, probably just a little bit sore,” England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford said Wednesday. “I’m sure he is fine. He was out on the grass with us today, which is good.”
The U.S. and England last met in the World Cup in 2010 in a game that resulted in a 1-1 draw at Rustenburg, South Africa.
— Field Level Media