The FIFA World Cup action continues on its second day Monday. In this Groups stage, Ecuador and England have already secured a win, and Team USA hopes to do the same.
Gio Reyna, Joe Scally, and Yunus Musah were 11 years old the last time the US took the field in a World Cup game. That was in Brazil in 2014, and the Stars and Stripes now have a youthful team with a renewed drive.
Wales has had an even longer drought. Its last – and only – appearance was in 1958. The Dragons made it to the semifinals that time, and are looking for new life after a 64-year wait.
USA Back in the Game
The US team arrived at the World Cup after qualifying in the Concacaf qualifying round in third place in the final phase, behind Canada and Mexico. In 2021, the team won the Gold Cup, while in 2019, it finished in second place.
For their part, the Dragons qualified for Qatar 2022 through the UEFA playoffs, where they first defeated Austria and then Ukraine. At Euro 2020, they had a little success, reaching the Round of 16.
In a press conference Sunday, the technical director of the United States National Team, Gregg Berhalter, revealed that Tyler Adams will wear the Captain’s badge for the team. The Leeds United midfielder is having one of the best years of his career in the Premier League, an undisputed starter with a lot to offer the US squad.
Adams replaces Christian Pulisic as the leader of this young team, whose members have zero experience in a tournament of this level. The only exception is DeAndre Yedlin, who was in Brazil for Team USA’s defeat in 2014.
Wales is in a similar position, but also has some ringers. At 33 years old, striker Gareth Bale is one of the top scorers in soccer, picking up 39 goals in 106 games. He possibly finds himself in a conflicting situation, now playing for the Wales national team, but regularly suiting up for the Los Angeles FC.
The game kicks off shortly, and the lines are tight. FanDuel has Team USA out in front by only a little, giving the squad the advantage at +150 to +210. This one should be a must-watch match.
FIFA, Qatar Not Making Any Friends
As the FIFA World Cup was getting underway in Qatar, both FIFA and the host nation stood on a platform of inclusion. It appears to have been nothing but empty hyperbole.
The teams from England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland initially committed to wearing armbands in support of the LGBT community at the World Cup. They will no longer wear the One Love bands out of fear of possible FIFA sanctions.
FIFA called out the teams for the gesture, turning to its rules that prevent any display of “political, religious, or personal messages or slogans in any language or form on the uniform.” However, there’s likely more to the decision than a rulebook.
Qatar is very conservative and has made its stance against same-sex couples known. In the lead-up to the World Cup, representatives from the country made reference to Qatar’s disdain for homosexuality and its condemnation of it as a crime. Sex between two men in the emirate is punishable by up to seven years in prison, according to the US State Department.
Not even showing support for diversity is welcome. Grant Wahl, a soccer journalist, arrived to watch the US vs. Wales game on Monday but was stopped by security.
They then escorted him to a private room for interrogation, only releasing him a half-hour later. This was only for the simple fact that he was wearing a shirt with a rainbow on it.
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