Recap: USMNT draw Wales 1-1 in World Cup opener

The United States looked set for a win in their first World Cup match in eight years. It wasn’t to be, however, with an 82nd minute penalty kick from Gareth Bale forcing the two sides to settle for a draw.

The XI

Head coach Gregg Berhalter didn’t raise many eyebrows with his lineup selection, picking a fairly standard team. Josh Sargent and Tim Ream were both selected from the start, the first time either player had started a match for the U.S. since a scoreless draw with El Salvador in World Cup qualifying on September 3, 2021.

On the pitch

The match played out as expected. The Welsh sat back and dared the U.S. to break them down in possession, staying compact and trying to keep the game in front of them. The Americans probed for 30 minutes, but couldn’t find the space to create a quality chance.

That changed in the 36th minute. Catching Wales on a rare foray forward, Christian Pulisic drove through the defense before laying a perfectly-timed pass into the feet of Tim Weah, who cooly finished with the outside of his right boot to give the Yanks a lead, the first American goal at a World Cup since Julian Green’s volley against Belgium in 2014.

After the break, Wales completely flipped the momentum. Halftime substitute Keifer Moore changed the match, giving the Welsh a focal point in attack and keeping the U.S. on the back foot.

The Americans were on the cusp of a crucial three points when Nashville SC defender Walker Zimmerman tackled LAFC’s Gareth Bale from behind in the box. It was a rash and ill-advised decision from the typically reliable defender, and Bale thumped home his penalty to earn a point for Wales in their first World Cup match since 1958.

The big picture

A draw probably isn’t a poor result, all things considered. But conceding a late goal to drop two points is a bitter pill to swallow.

The United States are very much alive in the group with a draw. Even a loss to England won’t eliminate them, but getting a point from their match on Friday would set them up well for their final group stage game against Iran.

But the failure to hold onto a lead cost them a win, and that could prove vital.

Up next

England vs United States
Friday, November 25 | 1:00 pm CT | FOX, Telemundo

Author: Ben Wrightis the Director of Soccer Content and a Senior MLS Contributor for Broadway Sports covering Nashville SC and the US National Team. Previously Ben was the editor and a founder of Speedway Soccer, where he has covered Nashville SC and their time in USL before journeying to Major League Soccer since 2018. Raised in Louisville, KY Ben grew up playing before a knee injury ended his competitive career. When he is not talking soccer he is probably producing music, drinking coffee or hanging out with his wife and kids.

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