The USMNT faces familiar opponents
The United States Men’s National Team returns to the World Cup with familiar foes awaiting them.
USMNT, 16th in the FIFA World Rankings, have faced two of their three group stage opponents at previous World Cups, and faced the third opponent in a friendly two years ago.
Here’s a look at the teams the USMNT will face off against in Pool B:
Monday, 2 p.m., Fox
FIFA Ranking: No. 19
The USMNT played Wales on November 12, 2020, in their first match since the start of the COVID pandemic, ending a nine-month layoff for the team. The result at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium was a 0-0 draw. Christian Pulisic missed the game through injury. The game marked the USMNT debuts for Giovanni Reyna and Yunus Musah.
Wales are making their first World Cup appearance since 1958. Manager Rob Page recently led Wales to the round of 16 at last summer’s delayed Euro 2020 tournament. This followed Wales’ superb run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals.
Led by the likes of striker Gareth Bale and midfielder Aaron Ramsey, Wales are dangerous enough on the counter to make noise in this group and give USA crises.
Friday, 2 p.m., Fox
FIFA Ranking: #5
Here we go again. The United States and England faced off in Group C at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, starting the group stage with a 1-1 draw. Both teams picked up 1-0 wins in the last game of the group stage to advance to the knockout stages.
There could be a lot of moving parts for England this time around, but one thing is certain: Harry Kane will be front and center. The 29-year-old Tottenham star scored four goals for England in their run to the Euro 2020 final after winning the Golden Boot (most goals) at the 2018 World Cup with six. His 12 goals this English Premier League season are the second in the league. Keeping Kane at bay will be a priority. Another key player to watch is teenage midfielder Jude Bellingham.
England could deploy a three-man back line, which manager Gareth Southgate used in games earlier this year.
Tuesday, November 29, 2 p.m., Fox
FIFA Ranking: No. 20
Iran beat USMNT 2–1 in the 1998 World Cup group stage in France; both teams ended up not qualifying for the knockout stage.
Iran are in a strange position after changing coaches just two months ago, sacking Croatian Dragan Skocic. His replacement, Portugal’s Carlos Queiroz, coached Iran from 2011 to 2019, leading the side to the 2014 and 2018 World Cups. He has had short spells with Colombia and Egypt in recent years. years, leaving the latter after failing to qualify for Qatar.
Queiroz’s Iranian sides have frustrated their opponents with a relentless commitment in defence, but they also possess attacking threats, led by Mehdi Taremi, who plays for Portuguese side Porto.
New York Post