After a frustrating 1-1 draw against Wales, this World Cup isn’t going to get any easier for the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT).
A promising first-half performance and a well-executed goal from Timothy Weah were nullified by Gareth Bale’s late penalty on Monday as the young USMNT side were denied victory at the start of their campaign in Qatar.
Next up is England, the favorites to top Group B having beaten Iran 6-2 earlier this week, an ominous sign for Wales and the USMNT in their bids to qualify for the round of 16.
But win or draw against England and USA coach Gregg Berhalter will know that a next-round berth could be within reach for his team with a game against Iran to come.
It will be the biggest test the USMNT’s so-called “Golden Generation” has faced under Berhalter and potentially an era-defining game for a team that struggled to form during the qualifying rounds.
“We know how much quality England is going to have. But again, we think we played against them well,” USA captain Tyler Adams said earlier this week, according to ESPN.
“We have a sports team. We think that against the ball we are very dominant at times. Did you see that [against Wales] with our counter pressure and how we are able to create many moments of transition”.
Friday’s game will be played at the Al Bayt Stadium in the city of Al Khor, beginning at 2 pm ET.
You have to go back to 2002 to see the last time the USMNT defeated a European opponent in the World Cup, although they did manage to draw 1-1 against England in the 2010 edition of the tournament in South Africa.
Otherwise, the results tended to go in England’s favour, winning eight of the teams’ 11 meetings, with another victory guaranteeing the 1996 World Cup winner’s progress to the knockout stages.
The good news for manager Gareth Southgate is that captain Harry Kane is fit to play after undergoing an ankle scan earlier this week, while Berhalter could look to 20-year-old Giovanni Reyna to sharpen the your team attack.
Reyna was an unused substitute against Wales and said his fitness is “really good” having been plagued by injuries in recent months.
Wales and Iran will play the other Group B game on Friday when they meet at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
Despite being side by side on the FIFA ranking list, Rob Page’s Wales team are confident of a win after England exposed Iran’s defensive weaknesses on Monday. For both teams, it feels like a must-win game to qualify for the round of 16.
Host Qatar also returns to action on Friday against Senegal, two nations that suffered defeats in their opening matches. Qatar was defeated 2-0 by Ecuador and Senegal lost by the same score to the Netherlands.
Those two victorious teams will be looking to make it two wins out of two when they meet at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Wales vs Iran – 5 a.m. Eastern Time
Qatar vs. Senegal – 8 a.m. ET
Netherlands vs Ecuador – 11 a.m. ET
England vs USA – 2 pm ET
United States: Fox Sports
United Kingdom: BBC or ITV
Brazil: Sport TV
Germany: ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Telekom
Canada: Bell Media
South Africa: SABC