After a frustrating 1-1 draw against Wales, this World Cup isn’t going to get any easier for the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT).
A promising first-half display and a Timothy Weah goal 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 are Group B favorites England who defeated 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 to come.
It will be the biggest test the USMNT’s so-called “Golden Generation” has faced under Berhalter and could be an era-defining game for a team that struggled for form during the qualifying rounds.
“We know how much quality England will have. But again, we think we match up well against them,” US captain Tyler Adams said earlier this week, according to ESPN.
“We have an athletic team. We think against the ball we are sometimes really dominant. You saw it [against Wales] with our counter pressure and how we can create a lot of transition moments.”
Friday’s match will be played at Al Bayt Stadium in the city of Al Khor, kicking off at 2pm ET.
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 was a 1-1 draw against England at the 2010 edition of the tournament in South- ensured Africa.
Otherwise, the results tended to go in England’s favor, winning eight of the teams’ 11 meetings, and another victory would guarantee the 1966 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 fill his side’s to step up attack.
Reyna was an unused substitute against Wales and said his fitness was “really good” having been plagued by injuries in recent months.
Wales and Iran compete in the other Group B game on Friday when they meet at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
Despite being next to each other in FIFA’s rankings, Rob Page’s Wales side will be confident of victory after England exposed Iran’s defensive problems 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 matches. Qatar was beaten 2-0 by Ecuador and Senegal lost to Holland by the same score.
These two victorious teams will look to make it two wins out of two when they meet at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Wales vs Iran – 05:00 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