The United States just finished their first World Cup match up against Gareth Bale and his Welsh side. The match up provided the drama, the goals, and the disappointments that you might expect from a huge match-up like this. 

Right off the bat the US came out hot with an early free kick and attacking momentum from Pulisic. While the opportunities did not make it in the back of the net, the US quickly proved that they were not going to be messing around in this high stakes match-up. 

Dest started the match-up offering incredible balls sent over the top and through space to create two quick chances for the United States. However, Dest and McKennie’s harsh defending through just the twelfth minute of the match saw both of them get early yellow cards. 

From the early moments of the match it became abundantly clear that the key to a US win would be down the flanks. Combining beautifully from midfield to up top the United States used their wingers and interchangeable runs to be the dominant force in the first half. Most notable is that Pulisic and Weah swapped spots quite a bit offering a more powerful line-up up top. 

The United States’ first goal came after a dominant start to the match from Tim Weah. The nearly perfect through ball from Pulisic set up Weah for a no doubt finish that saw the United States go up 1-0 in the 31st minute. 

The United States started out hot in the second half with a corner being awarded to the stars and stripes in the first 20 seconds of the match. With a quick start the US was able to move down the flanks relatively quickly furthering their dominance down the pitch. Smart in their press, the US did not quickly wear themselves in stark contrast to the past. Waiting for the Welsh side to make a mistake rather than quickly step to the ball proved to be successful. 

Matt Turner’s first big stop of the night came in the 50th minute of the match after a relatively unexciting stint between the posts. The looping corner provided the goalkeeper the opportunity to make himself known in the tournament, even earning a foul in the process. 

While the US didn’t slow their role in the second half, Wales definitely began to heat up. A quick strike for Wales saw Turner come up with a huge save that would send Wales to the corner. The subsequent corner provided yet another dangerous opportunity that sent the ball over the bar. 

Turner’s heroics helped the USA regain their urgency charging to their offensive half with several massive opportunities. Manager Gregg Berhalter would soon make four major changes on the offensive front in an attempt to add some energy to the 11.

After a relatively clean 82 minutes of american soccer, Gareth Bale came charging into the USA’s 18 yard box subsequently fouled by Walker Zimmerman. The foul did not need to be checked by VAR and Bale stepped up to the spot and buried the penalty.  

Over nearly 10 minutes of extra time in the second half saw the USA be the dominant side, but still ended with them coming up even with the Welsh side.

Key Takeaways 

After an exciting 90 minutes of soccer the United States proved that they have the tools to be successful throughout the group stage. However, what proved to be the most disappointing is that their dominance on the field did not show up in the scoreline. Pulisic’s performance left a lot to be desired from who is meant to be the shining star of the team. His inability to send in quality set pieces and selfishness on the ball made scoring a major struggle for the US. 

Zimmerman’s performance in the back led to the Gareth Bale penalty in the second half that would serve as the game’s equalizer. If he continues with less-than-average performances we could see the US in similar situations throughout the group stage. 

Two players that definitely made their names known with their excellent performances are Tim Ream and Matt Turner. Ream played arguably some of the best center back for the US in quite some time. Shutting down several opportunities and using his league game experience, chances for the Welsh were few and far between. 

Turner came up big and saved the US from dropping all three points to the Welsh side. He was not necessarily needed a great deal in the match, but when it mattered Turner came up huge. While he did let in Bale’s penalty, he proved that he can make the big saves under serious pressure. 

What’s Next?

After today’s gut wrenching performance from the USA, the stars and stripes will turn around and face Group B favorites England on Friday. If the US wants to come up with at least a point against the three lions they will need to shore up their offensive side. Even if they have limited chances in the match, the creation and finishing will need to be on point for the USA.