The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is underway, and one of the most anticipated group stage matches will be the USA vs Wales on Monday, November 21st. This pivotal Group B clash could determine which country advances to the knockout stage of the tournament.
The United States and Wales find themselves in the same first round group along with England and Iran. With two spots up for grabs to advance, the match between the USMNT (United States Men’s National Team) and the Welsh soccer team carries major implications.
Given the quality of opponents in Group B, neither side can afford a poor result. Both the USA and Wales will be desperate to get their World Cup campaign off to a winning start. In this preview, we will analyze the key factors that could swing this crucial World Cup match.
USA vs Wales Match Details
- Date: Monday, November 21, 2022
- Time: 2:00 pm EST
- Location: Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar
- Competition: FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 (Group Stage – Round 1)
- Where to Watch: FOX, Telemundo Deportes
Team Profiles – Strengths & Weaknesses
Before predicting the outcome, let’s examine the profile of each national team heading into Qatar 2022.
This young and energetic USMNT squad is led by manager Gregg Berhalter. They breezed through CONCACAF qualifying relatively comfortably.
- Talented young core – Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Yunus Musah, Sergiño Dest, Brenden Aaronson, Gio Reyna
- Athleticism, speed, energy
- Tactical flexibility & organization
- Strong team spirit
- Lack of World Cup experience
- No top class strikers
- Issues breaking down compact defenses
- Suspect defending on counterattacks
*** FIFA Ranking: 16 ***
After a 64-year World Cup absence, Wales qualified dramatically through the UEFA playoffs under manager Rob Page. This aging squad is led by superstar and captain Gareth Bale.
- Motivation – first World Cup since 1958
- Gareth Bale’s brilliance
- Toughness & spirit
- Strong team chemistry
- Heavily reliant on Bale
- Lack of depth
- Susceptible defending crosses
- Struggle creating chances
*** FIFA Ranking: 19 ***
Now let’s analyze 3 key factors that could determine the outcome.
3 Key Factors for USA vs Wales
1. Gareth Bale vs USMNT Defense
This match will likely come down to how well the American defenders can contain Gareth Bale. At age 33, this may be Bale’s last World Cup. He will be highly motivated to deliver a Man of the Match performance.
While Wales are seriously lacking in overall talent, they have a world class match winner in Bale. The LAFC forward has the speed, power, finishing ability and set piece prowess to single-handedly destroy defenses.
However, Bale has battled injuries in recent years. He may not be at full fitness and the US backline could frustrate him. Center backs Walker Zimmerman and Tim Ream will need an error-free performance. Fullbacks Sergiño Dest and Antonee Robinson must provide cover and limit the space for Bale to operate.
If the USMNT can neutralize Bale, they will go a long way towards winning this game. But if Bale is allowed time and space, he could make them pay dearly.
2. American Speed vs Welsh Experience
One of the defining characteristics of this US squad is their energetic and pacey attacking style. Manager Gregg Berhalter has assembled a quick and dynamic young team.
Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Brenden Aaronson, Tim Weah and Yunus Musah have the speed and dribbling ability to break lines and penetrate defenses. Fullbacks Sergiño Dest and Antonee Robinson provide width and overlapping runs.
However, this American speed and exuberance will clash against a veteran Welsh team playing in their first World Cup in 64 years. Veterans like Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen and Wayne Hennessey give Wales experience and composure.
The key matchup could be between playmakers Chelsea’s Pulisic and Ramsey of Nice. Pulisic’s ability to isolate and beat defenders contrasts with Ramsey’s intelligent passing and positioning.
If the USA’s pace is harnessed effectively, Wales could get overrun. But Wales will look to slow the game down and use their savvy.
3. Midfield Battle
This game could be won and lost in the midfield zone. Wales will likely play a conservative 5-3-2 or 5-4-1 formation and congest the middle third. Joe Allen, Ethan Ampadu and Aaron Ramsey will try to disrupt the rhythm of McKennie, Adams and Musah.
The tigerish tackles and relentless energy of the Leeds United duo of Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson will be critical for the US. They must set the tone and win the physical battles.
But Allen and Ampadu excel at regaining possession and distributing quickly. Ramsey’s two-way quality poses problems linking defense and attack.
If Wales control midfield, they can dictate play and find Bale in dangerous areas. The US midfield must stay compact and win second balls. McKennie’s box-to-box runs and Musah’s dribbling could exploit spaces.
The pace of the game and space in midfield could swing this tactical battle.
Predicted Starting Lineups
Based on the latest team news and injuries, here are the predicted lineups for both teams:
Matt Turner (GK)
Sergiño Dest – Walker Zimmerman – Tim Ream – Antonee Robinson
Tyler Adams – Weston McKennie – Yunus Musah
Christian Pulisic – Jesus Ferreira – Tim Weah
Wayne Hennessey (GK)
Connor Roberts – Joe Rodon – Ben Davies – Neco Williams – Ben Cabango
Aaron Ramsey – Joe Allen – Ethan Ampadu
Gareth Bale – Kieffer Moore
This presents a very difficult opening match for both teams. With England expected to top Group B, the Wales vs USA game is crucial for qualification chances.
Ultimately, I’m predicting a narrow 1-0 win for the United States. The energy and technical ability of stars like Pulisic, McKennie and Reyna will overwhelm a one-dimensional Wales team too reliant on Bale.
My score prediction is USA 1 – 0 Wales.
If the USA can earn 3 points, they will be in a strong position ahead of their second match vs England. But if Wales can conjure some magic through Bale, they could steal a famous victory.
Let’s examine why I’m selecting the USMNT to win their World Cup opener.
Why USA Will Win
There are 5 key reasons why I predict the United States will defeat Wales:
- Superior Squad Depth – The US clearly has more overall talent and options off the bench to change the game. Wales lack quality after Bale and Ramsey.
- Energy & Athleticism – The speed and exuberance of stars like Pulisic, Reyna and McKennie can overwhelm Wales.
- Tactical Flexibility – Berhalter has implemented an adaptable system and culture with the USA. Wales looks one-dimensional.
- Momentum – This young USMNT is building momentum and will be hungry to make a statement. Wales could be past their prime.
- Looking Ahead – With England looming next, this is virtually a must-win for the USA. Their focus will be sharper.
Gregg Berhalter deserves immense credit for making America an exciting and attack-minded team again. They should have too much quality over 90 minutes for Wales.
Why Wales Could Cause An Upset
While I’m backing the USA, here are 5 ways Wales could shock them:
- Gareth Bale Masterclass – If Bale is fit and firing, he could single-handedly rip apart the US defense.
- Set Pieces – Wales are dangerous on corners and free kicks with Bale’s aerial threat. He could grab a goal this way.
- Veteran Savvy – Wales have more experience in big games and could execute a sound tactical plan.
- USA Complacency – If the US doesn’t take Wales seriously, they could be caught off guard.
- Moment of Magic – Even without Bale, Ramsey or Daniel James could produce a wonder goal.
Wales are clear underdogs, but write them off at your peril. Their passion and hunger to succeed at the World Cup after a 64-year absence cannot be underestimated.
USA vs Wales – 6 Key Matchups
Let’s highlight 6 of the most important individual battles that could swing the outcome:
| Key Matchup | USA | Wales | Analysis |
| Winger | Christian Pulisic | Gareth Bale | Game-changers for their country. Whoever performs better could single-handedly win it. |
| Central Midfield | Tyler Adams | Aaron Ramsey | Fierce and tireless engine vs intelligent link play. Key zone where the game will be won. |
| Center Back | Walker Zimmerman | Joe Rodon | Responsible for marshalling defenses and stopping opposition strikers. Disciplined performance needed. |
| Goalkeeper | Matt Turner | Wayne Hennessey | Both excellent shot-stoppers. Handling crosses and distribution will be tested. |
| Playmaker | Gio Reyna | Daniel James | Speedy and tricky creators tasked with unlocking defenses. Need space to wreak havoc. |
| Fullback | Sergiño Dest | Connor Roberts | Will provide width in attack but must fulfill defensive duties. Preventing counterattacks is vital. |
Wales will need huge performances in these matchups from veteran leaders like Bale, Ramsey, and Hennessey. Meanwhile, the USMNT relies on their young stars Pulisic, Reyna, Adams, and Turner.
6 Key Stats to Know
These 6 stats provide intriguing insights heading into USA vs Wales:
| Stat | USA | Wales |
| FIFA World Ranking | 16 | 19 |
| All-Time Record | 1-3-2 | 3-1-2 |
| 2022 World Cup Odds | +10000 | +15000 |
| Qualifying Top Scorer | Christian Pulisic (5) | Gareth Bale (5) |
| 2021 Gold Cup Finish | Champions | Did Not Qualify |
| Head Coach | Gregg Berhalter (Since 2018) | Rob Page (Caretaker since 2020) |
- The USMNT are clear favorites, evidenced by the betting odds and higher world ranking.
- Historically there is little to separate the teams, with Wales edging the all-time record.
- Both sides rely heavily on their talismanic wingers Pulisic and Bale for attacking production.
- Berhalter has had longer to implement his system and style with USA compared to Page’s brief tenure as Wales boss.
Let’s examine predictions from prominent experts ahead of USA vs Wales:
| Expert | Prediction | Reasoning |
| Alexi Lalas | 1-0 USA | USMNT’s superior athleticism and depth overcomes Wales’ experience |
| Landon Donovan | 2-1 USA | American speed on the counterattack creates goals |
| Gabby Marcotti | 0-0 Draw | Cagey affair with both teams cautious to avoid losing |
| Julien Laurens | 2-2 Draw | Bale and Pulisic trade blows in thrilling stalemate |
| Clint Dempsey | 1-0 USA | USMNT’s youth and hunger prevails led by stars Pulisic and Reyna |
- Consensus is that the USA are slight favorites, with a draw being the next most likely outcome.
- Most foresee a low scoring game decided by one goal either way.
- Bale and Pulisic are viewed as the main protagonists who could determine the result.
Why This Match Matters
Beyond the 3 points at stake, USA vs Wales has fascinating subplots:
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- First World Cup match for the USMNT players representing a new generation
- Chance for Pulisic to make a global statement as America’s undisputed star
- Opportunity for Wales’ golden generation led by Bale to create history
- Berhalter and Page auditioning to remain as managers after Qatar
- Sets the tone for both teams heading into later group games (USA-ENG, WAL-IRN)
- Significant implications for knockout round qualification
Rarely do group stage matches feel so monumental. But the gravity of this game is unmistakable.
Given the high stakes, tension will be sky-high. Expect a cagey and intense affair where concentration and composure could make the difference.
Whichever team loses will face tremendous pressure moving forward. That should create an electrifying atmosphere.
Fun Facts About USA vs Wales
Beyond the serious implications, this matchup also provides some entertaining tidbits:
- The USMNT has played more matches against Wales (6) than any nation aside from Mexico and Canada.
- Wales have never defeated the United States in a competitive match (0-1-2 record).
- Daniel James’ grandfather is American, making the Leeds winger eligible for the USMNT.
- Swansea City owns the record for most players provided to Wales’ national team.
- American owners Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien own a controlling stake in Swansea City.
- Wales’ last World Cup match in 1958 was a 1-0 upset victory over Hungary.
- The USA’s 1950 World Cup upset of England was dubbed the ‘Miracle on Grass’.
- Both teams failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
- Christian Pulisic and Gareth Bale are among the most expensive Welsh and American soccer exports.
- Wales has never reached the knockout round at a World Cup (1958 quarterfinals best finish).
- The 2002 World Cup run to the quarterfinals remains the USMNT’s best performance.
5 Bold Predictions for USA vs Wales
Based on this detailed preview, here are 5 bold predictions for how this pivotal World Cup clash will unfold:
- Pulisic Scores First – The US talisman converts an early penalty to settle nerves.
- Bale Equalizer – Wales skipper fires a trademark 30-yard free kick to level before halftime.
- Yunus Musah Ejected – The young midfielder gets a second yellow for a rash tackle, leaving the US short-handed.
- Hennessey Howler – The Wales keeper allows a stoppable shot to squeak in for the winner.
- Berhalter Vindicated – After intense scrutiny, the US coach’s tactics pay off earning a crucial win.
This projected scoreline would certainly provide lots of drama! While the actual match events are sure to deviate, a thriller with twists and turns would be a fitting way to kick off the Group B schedule.
No matter what happens, the USA vs Wales clash will set the tone for what promises to be an extremely competitive quartet vying for two World Cup knockout stage spots.
In this comprehensive preview, we analyzed multiple factors priming the United States and Wales for their win-or-go-home World Cup match.
The contrasting strengths and weaknesses of each team were assessed along with key individual matchups and tactical questions. Stats, expert picks, predictions and potential scenarios were laid out in detail to preview this crucial Group B showdown.
I believe the exuberance and energy of a youthful USMNT squad led by stars like Pulisic and Reyna will overcome a Wales team over-reliant on their captain Bale.
But tournament openers can be unpredictable. Wales has the talent and motivation to stun their American counterparts.
One thing is certain – given what’s at stake, both sides will be desperate to start their World Cup with 3 points. Expect a hard-fought and cagey battle that could swing on a moment of individual brilliance.
Whichever team loses faces a mountainous challenge to progress. The implications of USA vs Wales extend far beyond just the result on November 21st. This promises to be a must-see World Cup match with reverberations potentially lasting for years.