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 performance and a well-taken strike from Timothy Weah were canceled out by Gareth Bale’s late penalty on Monday as the young USMNT side were denied a win at their campaign opener in Qatar.
Next up are 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 a 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 potentially an era-defining game for a side that struggled for form during the qualifying rounds.
“We know how much quality England will have. But again, we think we hold up well against them,” U.S. captain Tyler Adams said earlier this week, according to ESPN.
“We have an athletic team. We think we are really dominant against the ball at times. You saw it [against Wales] with our counter-pressing and the way we can create a lot of transition moments.”
Friday’s game will be played at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor City and kicks off at 2:00 PM ET.
You have to go all the way back to 2002 when the USMNT last beat European opposition at the World Cup, albeit securing a 1-1 draw against England at the 2010 edition of the tournament in South Africa.
Otherwise, the results have largely gone in England’s favour, winning eight of the 11 head-to-head meetings, and another victory would have guaranteed the 1966 World Cup winners a place in 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 could look to 20-year-old Giovanni Reyna to tighten up his side’s attack.
Reyna was an unused substitute against Wales and said his fitness was “really good” after being blighted 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 neck-and-neck in the FIFA rankings, Rob Page’s Wales side will be confident of victory after England exposed Iran’s defensive weaknesses on Monday. For both teams, this looks like a must-win game to qualify for the knockout stages.
Hosts Qatar also return to action on Friday against Senegal, two nations that both suffered defeats in their opening matches. Qatar was defeated by Ecuador 2-0, and Senegal lost to the Netherlands by the same score.
The two victorious teams will look to make it two wins from two when they meet at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Wales v Iran – 5am ET
Qatar vs. Senegal – 8 a.m. ET
Netherlands vs. Ecuador – 11:00 a.m. ET
England vs. USA – 2:00 PM ET
USA: Fox Sports
UK: BBC or ITV
Germany: ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Telekom
Canada: Bell Media
South Africa: SABC