Fourteen of 15 U.S. players that saw action made their World Cup debuts against the Red Dragons.
USA opened its 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign on a steady footing with a 1-1 draw against Wales on Monday night at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. Forward Tim Weah scored the USA’s goal in the 36th minute after a dynamic run with some fancy dribbling resulting in a perfect pass by Christian Pulisic put him behind the defense.
Wales secured their equalizer with a late penalty kick from skipper Gareth Bale in the 82nd minute.
A strong first-half showing by the Americans which dominated possession as Wales came out in a low defensive block resulted in Weah’s goal. The U.S. did well to hold the fort against a physical, and occasionally bruising, Welsh defense to earn a vital point in their World Cup opener.
The draw ensures that the Americans are tied for second place in Group B with Wales behind England, which soundly defeated Iran 6-2 earlier today. The USA will square off against on Friday, Nov. 25 where the top two teams in each group will advance to the knockout stage.
The U.S. were dominant from the get-go as they controlled the match with their aggressive possession and effective ball-winning midfield. Team USA twice nearly netted the game’s opening goal in the 10th minute when Welsh defender Joe Rodon almost scored an own goal as he tried to clear a dangerous cross from Weah on the right wing, and in the aftermath, Antonee Robinson played to Sargent in the penalty box but his close-range header glanced off the outside of the left post.
The Wales team chose to ease off and rarely crossed the midfield boundary, but when they did, both their early forays into rival terrain resulted in yellow cards after brusque tackling by Sergiño Dest and Weston McKennie in the 11th and 13th minutes, respectively.
To their credit, the Welsh defense proved tough to break down as they persevered with their physical, hard-nosed style, but the Americans were patiently biding their time while in possession, with a few long-distance attempts serving as amber alerts as Dest drove a shot over the crossbar in the 29th and Weah just missed connecting with a long ball into the box from Adams in the 35th minute.
The U.S. finally broke through the well-fortified Welsh defense in the 36th minute when center forward Josh Sargent sent a well-controlled ball into the path of Christian Pulisic, who then slid a pass behind the Welsh defense for Weah, who slotted his shot into the net.
The pace picked up considerably in the second half as Wales pushed hard for an equalizer. The action was more hardline and brusque as the physicality continued, resulting with some hard fouls with the Welsh defense going all out to contain an energetic Pulisic playing like a man possessed.
Wales finally found their silver lining in the 82nd minute and it came from the penalty spot. In the midst of a flurry of activity in the middle of the box, a hard tackle from Walker Zimmerman on Bale saw the referee immediately award the penalty kick and Bale hammered it home to earn the Red Dragons their hard-fought draw.