Cardiff City Stadium in Wales was the location of a massive World Cup Qualification fixture. Win and you get the pleasure of joining the U.S., England, and Iran in Group B. Lose, and try again in 3 years.
USMNT’s World Cup Group B Officially Confirmed: Welcome Wales
Ukraine vs Wales was a fixture enriched with storylines on and off the field. For Wales, winning this match would qualify them for their first World Cup since 1958. 64 years, or a lifetime, for most of the fans. As for Ukraine, we all know the off the field impact that each of these players are feeling, and what this opportunity would mean for them. 90 minutes and a Yarmolenko OG later, the Welsh have qualified, ending the 64 year World Cup drought.
🏴 SCENES IN CARDIFF 🏴 pic.twitter.com/5q00HWCW9r
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 5, 2022
So what does this mean for the United States Men’s National Team, and how do they stack up against Gareth Bale and Co.?
Most notably, we now know that on opening day in Qatar, Wales will be waiting in the wings. That was the only fixture up in the air. Now it’s sorted, and the schedule is as follows:
USA vs Wales, Monday November 21st, 2PM ET
USA vs England, Friday November 25th, 2PM ET
USA vs Iran, Tuesday November 29th, 2PM ET
What that schedule sets up is a final Group B match day featuring USA vs Iran (don’t really need to explain the off-field significance of this one), and England vs Wales, a United Kingdom derby.
The burning question I think we all want to know is how the U.S. will shape up against a team like Wales. The last time the two teams squared off, it ended in a 0-0 draw in Wales in November of 2020. Priority number one for the U.S. will obviously be containing Gareth Bale, who may have one foot on the golf course already.
The Wales squad is by no means world beating, but I don’t wanna undersell the talent they have because it is there. I mean, Gareth Bale did this in a Champions League final:
Two months since THAT Gareth Bale goal in the Champions League final 😮
(🎥 U.S. only) pic.twitter.com/R7Ha8vwd7m
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 26, 2018
If you put any stock into the FIFA World Rankings, Wales being at 18 might make you question why they needed a playoff to reach the World Cup. But the somewhat aging squad that Wales is fielding, has a “Last Dance” feel to it with Bale, who has been rumored to be retiring in the not so distant future.
Daniel James of Leeds, Aaron Ramsey of Juventus, and a Tottenham center back duo of Ben Davies and Joe Rodon are the standout names of a solid, but beatable Welsh side. I know it’s early and injuries could derail this, but here is my no guts, no glory prediction for how Group B will end up:
I think the U.S. will beat Iran and Wales, and though it kills me to say this, I think England beat the U.S. to top the group. November, get here sooner.