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Date : July 19, 2024

World Cup 2022 Daily Preview: United States get the ball rolling against Wales

International Friendly”Japan v United States of America”
Photo by ANP via Getty Images

The United States’ last appearance in a men’s World Cup was in the Round of 16 against Belgium in 2014. On Monday, a squad full of youth (and promise) starts its quest in Qatar.

After Qatar and Ecuador raised the curtain on the 2022 World Cup at midday Sunday ET in Al Khor, the 1st full day of competition commences with England vs. Iran and Senegal vs. the Netherlands before the United States begins its quest in the tournament against Wales. England are expected to easily beat Iran, while a Senegal side missing Sadio Mane should struggle to match wits against a Dutch team featuring Virgil van Dijk and Memphis Depay.

Meanwhile, after missing the 2018 competition, a young American group hopes to get off on the right foot against the Welsh in a match that will set the tone for Gregg Berhalter’s men in the group stage. Column upon column has been written about roster selection, performance, whether Berhalter’s the man for the job, etc., but now all that’s left is to play the matches.

Here’s a look ahead at Matchday 2 of the 2022 World Cup:

England vs. Iran — 8 a.m.

How to Watch

FS1, Telemundo, Peacock (premium)

The Matchup

It nearly came home for England’s men in Euro 2020 last year before falling to Italy in penalties (and eventually did courtesy of England Women in their Euro 2022 quest), but Gareth Southgate’s team will look to finally win the program’s 1st major tournament since 1966. The fact that the birthplace of modern football has been thwarted time and time again on the world stage has become somewhat of a social media meme, but could this finally be the year it all comes together? Probably not, if the Three Lions that went winless in UEFA Nations League Group A (0W-3L-3D) show up. At least they should have an easy time against an Iranian team that has a lot of off-the-field issues to work through.

Player to Watch: Harry Kane

England Training Session - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

It’s all about England’s captain and leading scorer. That said, he’ll need to rise to the occasion as his last goal from open play at the international level was in a 10-0 pasting of San Marino last November on the final day of World Cup qualifying. But he shouldn’t struggle to find the scoresheet against Iran as he’ll look to carry over his club form (12 goals in 15 appearances for Tottenham Hotspur).

Senegal vs. Netherlands — 11 a.m.

How to Watch

FS1, Telemundo, Peacock (premium)

The Matchup

Like the Americans, the Dutch didn’t qualify for the World Cup in 2018, which is a much bigger deal considering Oranje was a semifinalist in 2014 before falling to eventual runners-up Argentina in penalties. Fortunately for Louis van Gaal and his team, they’re drawn into a group of teams that aren’t quite world-beaters. Senegal’s best player by far, Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mané, is out of the World Cup altogether due to injury, and while his team were always going to face a tough road to the Round of 16, the task becomes that much more difficult without the 30-year-old forward, even with names like Idrissa Gueye and Édouard Mendy on the team sheet.

Player to Watch: Memphis Depay

Training Holland -Training Men
Photo by Rico Brouwer/Soccrates/Getty Images

Depay, who was 20 when he burst onto the international stage in 2014’s tournament, went on an absolute tear during qualifying. What can he do this time around after missing out on Brazil 4 years ago? He should be able to get off the mark rather easily in this one.

United States vs. Wales — 2 p.m.

How to Watch

FOX, Telemundo, Peacock (premium)

The Matchup

Well, here we go. Almost 8-and-a-half years on from a 2-1 quarterfinal loss to the Red Devils in extra time in Brazil, and after a catastrophic miss of the tournament altogether in 2018, the United States are back in the World Cup. Let’s be honest: Gregg Berhalter’s squad didn’t look convincing over large portions of qualifying, and even less so during the pre-World Cup friendlies. But consider the sheer potential of this team and the chip on its shoulder as it looks to show that it belongs in the global football discussion. By all accounts, if the USMNT are to get to the Round of 16, it must beat Wales.

What of Wales, though, a country that hasn’t qualified for the tournament since 1958? It essentially starts with Gareth Bale and how the Americans are able to handle him in the attack. Bale, of course, is coming off an otherworldly MLS Cup win with LAFC, so certainly any magic from that has been left stateside…right?

Player to Watch: Jesús Ferriera

SOCCER: JUN 10 Concacaf Nations League - USA v Grenada
Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

So much of the talk coming in for the U.S. was about who was going to play at striker, and it looks like your winner will be the almost-22-year-old from FC Dallas. Scoring in MLS is one thing; it’s quite another to do it in the World Cup. Can he make his mark?

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