U.S. versus Wales recap: Bale steals a point for Wales as Americans lose lead late


Photo courtesy of Instagram @usmnt

Timothy Weah put the U.S. up 1-0 in the first half vs. Wales on Nov. 21

On Monday, the USMNT valiantly fought Wales to a 1-1 draw that secured each team one point in the Group B standings. Had each team known that they would leave their first match with a draw, it would have been deemed a satisfying result to start the tournament; however, for the Americans, after losing the lead less than 10 minutes from stoppage time, this draw feels like the one that got away while the Welsh should feel as though they stole this singular point from the jaws of defeat.

The game plan for the U.S. was clear: win the possession battle, win the game. In the first half, this plan, albeit simple, was executed to perfection. The Americans held possession for 64 percent of the first half and stifled any sort of offense that the Dragons tried to accumulate. After what was almost a calamity on the Wales backline that forced goalie Wayne Hennessey to prevent an own goal, the Americans struck first as Tim Weah, the 22-year-old sensation that was expected to make a difference, slotted home a through ball from captain Christian Pulisic. The momentum of this goal scored in the 36th minute would last only until halftime as this match would prove, like many, to be a tale of two halves.

Wales came out firing in the second half with a blistering attack and a conscious effort to match the possession that the U.S. looked to impose. In minutes 64 and 65, Wales had their best chances of the match as U.S. goalie Matt Turner was forced to punch a save above the crossbar that seemed destined for the goal. The U.S would recover and initiate its own formidable attack before a clumsy tackle by Walker Zimmerman gave the Welsh star Gareth Bale the opportunity to take a penalty kick. The captain made no mistake as he punished the ball into the upper right corner of the cage knotting the score up at one. The teams would remain gridlocked for the remainder of the match leaving a sour taste in the mouths of U.S players and fans alike.

Although this result is met with discontent from many American fans, the U.S. is well positioned to advance to the knockout stage after a draw against Wales. If the team can secure one point against England on Friday, they will all but control their own destiny with one match remaining against the weakest team in the group, Iran. An outright loss to the three lions, however, will make things difficult for the Americans and force them to get help from teams around them if they want their dreams of winning the World Cup to continue.

The U.S. must put this disappointing draw behind them as they have what will prove to be their most difficult match when they take on England at 2 p.m. on Friday. The three lions cruised to a 6-2 win over Iran on Monday and reminded all other Group B squads why they are the team to beat.