On Monday afternoon, the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) kicks off their first World Cup since 2014 with a showdown against Wales. We’ve got you covered with a full preview plus a few of our favorite bets for the game.
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USMNT vs Wales
- Date: Monday, November 21st
- Time: 2 p.m. ET
- Channel: FOX
|3rd place in CONCACAF||Qualification||Beat Ukraine in UEFA Play-in|
|10||Previous World Cup Appearances||1|
|Semi-finals (1930)||Best Finish||Quarterfinals (1958)|
|-105||Odds to make knockout stage||+100|
The last time the United States was in the World Cup was in 2014 in Brazil when they put together a strong run to the Round of 16 before failing to capitalize on a few good chances against a strong Belgium team.
Since then, it’s been a bit of a disaster for the USMNT, headlined by an October 2017 loss to Trinidad and Tobago which prevented the United States from qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. It was the first time they had failed to qualify since 1986.
While the USMNT is back in the World Cup this year, it’s not a trip without drama. The team finished third in their qualifying group and only advanced automatically because of goal differential. Then, coach Gregg Berhalter, was under immense scrutiny when he announced the official World Cup roster and it didn’t include goalie Zack Steffen or exciting 19-year-old striker Ricardo Pepi.
The team also heads into the World Cup on the back of a bad stretch of soccer, going winless in three straight and four of their last five matches. They have also struggled to score goals, scoring more than one goal just twice in their last seven games while being held scoreless four times in that same span.
It’s especially concerning when you consider that the brightest stars on the team are strikers, led by Christian Pulisic, who is the most capped player on the roster with 52 career USMNT appearances. He’s joined up front by Gio Reyna (son of former USMNT player Claudio Reyna), Josh Sargent, and Tim Weah.
However, this is an incredibly young and inexperienced team overall and only defender DeAndre Yedlin has any previous World Cup experience
They will face a Wales team that hasn’t made the World Cup since 1958 but has shown well in the last two European Championships, reaching the Round of 16 in 2020.
While the USMNT is one of the youngest in the World Cup, Wales is one of the most experienced, led by their star Gareth Bale who has 40 goals in 108 appearances for his country. Starting goalkeeper Wayne Hennesseey also has triple-digit appearances with 106, more than double Pulisic, who leads the US.
Like the US, Wales has not been playing great soccer of late, winning just once in their last eight games (the 1-0 victory of Ukraine that qualified them). They come into the World Cup on a three-game losing streak with losses to the Netherlands, Belgium, and Poland.
If the United States can keep a constant eye on Bales, the rest of the Wales team doesn’t pose much danger. The younger team should try to keep the pace up against their older counterparts and hope that one of their talented young strikers can find the back of the net.
Bettings Odds and Best Bets
Just a reminder to check out our guide on all the ways you can bet on the 2022 World Cup
- Spread: USA -0.5 (+130)
- Over/Under: 2.5 goals
- Money line: USA +135, Wales +230, Draw +200
The USMNT has an 18-7 advantage in goals in its past 10 competitive games, while Wales has only outscored opponents 15-14 in its last 10 matches.
Best Bet: USA -0.5
This feels like a game that the United States should be able to win. While Wales has more experienced players, none of them have experience in the World Cup, so that edge is nullified a bit. This USMNT has a bunch of players in high-level leagues, so there shouldn’t be a step up in competition like there has been in years past. This is a young and talented team that should be able to squeak out a win even with their nerves