The US men’s national team kicked off their 2022 World Cup campaign with a 1-1 draw with Wales, as goals from Tim Weah and Gareth Bale earned each side one point in the Group B standings.
The USMNT opened up the scoring in the first half, after Weah connected with Christian Pulisic to find the back of the net. But the American side’s dominance came to a crashing halt in the second 45, seeing Wales come back. Ultimately, it was a foul by Walker Zimmerman on Bale inside the box that propelled the Welsh to get the equalizer via the penalty spot.
“Big players step up in big moments, and you have to give credit. We all thought Matty [U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner] was going to get a fingertip to it, but listen, Gareth has done it at the highest levels for a long, long time. And to have the confidence and the belief to put it where he did, with the power that he did, that’s him,” said Tim Ream after the game.
“To limit them as much as we did and still come away with only a point is, listen, it’s disappointing, but it’s a learning experience.”
Even before the 82-minute penalty, Wales kept knocking on Matt Turner. Wales head coach Rob Page turned the tables at halftime, bringing on Kieffer Moore and shifting from a 3-5-2 formation to a three-man frontline.
Though the USMNT players claim they were prepared for Moore’s substitution, the game proved otherwise.
“We were actually prepared for that to happen to start the match. We knew what to do. We knew what would be needed and [were] fully aware and fully prepared for that situation,” center back Tim Ream said postgame.
“They put Kieffer Moore on. Kieffer Moore is a hard guy to defend. He’s huge. He came and made a difference,” contradicted goalscorer Tim Weah.
“And I think experience did play a role in this game. I feel like for a lot of us, it’s our first game. Definitely a learning experience and we just have to come out with a different energy. I know we can hit that second speed and we just have to do that.”
The draw leaves England leaders of Group B, after the Three Lions triumphed 6-2 over Iran, with the USMNT and Wales tied for second with one point each. The group remains wide open for either side.
The American team returns to action on Friday, November 25 when facing England at the Al Bayt Stadium.