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 team were denied victory at the start of their campaign in Qatar.
Next up is England, the favorite to top Group B after beating Iran 6-2 earlier in the 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 that a place in the next round could be within reach with a game against Iran on the horizon.
It will be the biggest test the USMNT’s so-called “Golden Generation” has faced under Berhalter and possibly a deciding game for a squad that has struggled for form during the qualifying rounds.
“We know how much quality England are going to have. But again, we think we can compete against them,” US captain Tyler Adams said earlier this week, according to ESPN.
“We have an athletic team. We think we are really dominant against the ball sometimes. You saw that [against Wales] with our counter pressure and how we manage to create many transitional moments.”
Friday’s game will be played at Al Bayt Stadium in the city of Al Khor and kicks off at 2pm ET.
You have to go all the way back to 2002 for the last time the USMNT beat a European opponent at the World Cup, although it did draw 1-1 against England in the 2010 edition of the tournament in South Africa.
Otherwise, the results were mostly in England’s favour, with eight wins out of the sides’ 11 encounters, and another victory would guarantee the 1966 World Cup winner progress to the knockout stages.
The good news for manager Gareth Southgate is that captain Harry Kane is fit to play after undergoing an ankle scan earlier this week, while Berhalter may be looking at 20-year-old Giovanni Reyna to sharpen his side’s attack.
Reyna was an unused substitute against Wales and said his fitness is “really good” having been plagued by injuries in recent months.
Wales and Iran will play the other Group B game on Friday when they meet at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
Despite being side-by-side in the FIFA rankings, Rob Page’s Wales team will be confident of a victory after England exposed Iran’s defensive weaknesses on Monday. For both teams it feels like a game that must be won to qualify for the knockout stage.
Host Qatar will also play again on Friday against Senegal, two countries that both suffered defeat in their opening games. Qatar was beaten 2-0 by Ecuador and Senegal lost to the Netherlands by the same deficit.
Those two victorious teams will try to win two of two when they meet at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Wales vs Iran – 5am Eastern Time
Qatar vs Senegal – 8pm ET
Netherlands vs Ecuador – 11am ET
England vs USA – 2pm ET
USA: Fox Sports
UK: BBC or ITV
Germany: ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Telekom
Canada: Bell Media
South Africa: SABC