World Cup pedigree
Wales’ only other final appearance came in 1958, when Manchester United’s caretaker manager Jimmy Murphy led them to the quarter-finals of a 16-nation tournament with just four non-European teams. Wales advanced from a group that also included hosts Sweden, Hungary and Mexico, but without injured Juventus star John Charles, they lost to Brazil. Pelé scored the only goal. Marked by harsh treatment by Hungary in the previous match, Charles’s absence is one of the most famous “what ifs” in Welsh football.
Only two, both friendly. The first was a 2-0 win for the US in San Jose in 2003, with Preston North End’s Landon Donovan and Eddie Lewis scoring goals in the second half. “America Has No Problem With Wales,” read the LA Times headline, giving the impression that the White House was denying reports of a diplomatic incident. The countries met again in Swansea in November 2020. The uneventful (boring) closed-doors game was a scoreless draw, but a remarkable one as two 17-year-olds, Gio Reyna and Yunus Musah, made their United States debuts. . Since then they have proven to be quite useful.
Wales, a battle-hardened group of high achievers who are effective on the counter-attack, have shown their mettle this year in tense playoff victories over Austria and Ukraine. Their games tend to be close: since Denmark crushed them 4-0 at Euro 2020, only one of 16 matches (a 5-1 win over Belarus) has not been a draw or settled by a one-goal margin. .
Perennial fitness concerns for Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale and a serious lack of depth in the squad – less than half the roster play in Europe’s top leagues. Chris Gunter is Wales’ most capped player in history, but the 33-year-old AFC Wimbledon defender plays his club’s football in the English fourth division, as does Swindon Town’s Jonny Williams.
Do you really need to ask? With all due respect to the MK Dons midfield dynamo, Matt Smith, it’s Bale, of course. Oft-injured and 33, he is no longer a rampant sprinter, but the five-time Champions League winner is his country’s talisman and can still seize the moment, as evidenced by his 128th-minute equalizer for LAFC in the MLS Cup final. this month.
What the United States must do to beat them
A limited but direct and well-trained opponent who can hurt you with pace on the counter? Sounds worryingly like Canada, which took four points off the US in the standings. Gregg Berhalter’s men will need to guard against the speed of forwards Dan James and Brennan Johnson, track the aerial threat of Kieffer Moore and avoid giving away free kicks in dangerous areas, given Bale’s prowess on set pieces. Expect the US to have most of the possession, so the outcome will depend on how well they use it.
1-1: A nervous USA got off to a poor start but grew in the game; pressure from him leads to a tie, but they are unable to find a winner. Berhalter “takes the positives.”