After a frustrating 1-1 draw against Wales, this World Cup is not getting any easier for the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT).
A promising first-half performance and a well-taken goal from Timothy Weah were canceled out by Gareth Bale’s late penalty on Monday as the youthful USMNT side were denied victory at the start of their campaign in Qatar.
Next up is England, the favorites to top Group B, who thrashed Iran 6-2 earlier this week – an ominous sign for Wales and the USMNT in their bid to qualify for the knockout stages.
But win or draw against England and US coach Gregg Berhalter will know a place in the next round could be within his side’s reach with a game against Iran looming.
It will be the biggest test the USMNT’s so-called “Golden Generation” has faced under Berhalter and potentially an era-defining game for a team that struggled for form throughout the qualifying rounds.
“We know how much quality England will have. But again, we think we match them well,” US captain Tyler Adams said earlier this week, according to ESPN.
“We have an athletic team. We think against the ball we are really dominant at times. You saw that [against Wales] with our counter pressure and how we are able to create a lot of transition moments.”
Friday’s match will be played at the Al Bayt Stadium in the city of Al Khor, starting at 14 A.M.
You have to go all the way back to 2002 for the last time the USMNT defeated a European opponent at the World Cup, although it did secure a 1-1 draw against England at the 2010 edition of the tournament in South Africa.
Otherwise, results have tended to go in England’s favour, winning eight of the sides’ 11 meetings, and another victory would guarantee the 1996 World Cup winners progress to the knockout stages.
The good news for manager Gareth Southgate is that captain Harry Kane is fit to play after undergoing a scan on his ankle earlier this week, while Berhalter may look to 20-year-old Giovanni Reyna to bolster his side’s attack.
Reyna was an unused substitute against Wales and said his fitness is “really good” after being plagued by injuries in recent months.
Wales and Iran compete for the other Group B match on Friday when they meet at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
Despite being side by side in the FIFA rankings, Rob Page’s Wales side will be confident of victory after England exposed Iran’s defensive frailties on Monday. For both teams, it feels like a must-win game to qualify for the knockout stages.
Hosts Qatar are also back in action on Friday against Senegal, two nations that both suffered defeats in their opening games. Qatar were beaten 2-0 by Ecuador and Senegal lost by the same score to the Netherlands.
These two victorious teams will look to make it two wins from two when they meet at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Wales vs Iran – 6pm 5:00 AM Eastern Time
Qatar vs. Senegal – 8:00 a.m. ET
Netherlands vs. Ecuador – 11:00 a.m. ET
England vs USA – 2pm ET
USA: Fox Sports
UK: BBC or ITV
Germany: ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Telekom
Canada: Bell Media
South Africa: SABC