Wales’ score will have felt like a loss to the United States team as they left the field in Qatar.
I was really impressed with the first half. We controlled the game. Josh Sargent came close, there was almost an own goal and I was really happy when Timothy Weah scored. He’s a great kid, always smiling, always happy. He took his goal well.
The tide turned in the second and the more clear chances came to Wales. But the US should have persevered. It was a foolish challenge from Walker Zimmerman to Gareth Bale, who had his back to goal and couldn’t control the ball.
There was nothing Matt Turner could do to save Bale’s resulting penalty. If you have the ability to hit halfway or higher at that kind of pace, then gravity will drag you down even if you leave early as a goalie.
It’s really hard to save and I think Matt did everything correctly on the penalty – the percentages his left footed takers go to the goalkeeper’s left. Sometimes you have to play the percentage game on penalties if the striker doesn’t give you hints about his run-up.
Gareth would have been tired, it was hot and humid and to hit him with that kind of power, well, that’s why he’s scored so many big goals in big games. He, like the rest of the Wales team, wasn’t there in the first half, but picked it up in the second.
Brad Friedel was impressed with parts of the USA’s performance in the 1-1 draw against Wales
USA had a lead in the first half when Timothy Weah (center) scored with a smart finish
I also think the game showed how important Weston McKennie is and his importance is something I discussed in a previous column. He went off in the 66th minute and although Wales had improved by then we looked like a different team without him.
McKennie, along with US captain Tyler Adams and Yunus Musah, were excellent in the first half and I didn’t think Wales could handle it. However, I understand that Gregg took him out. He has not played 90 minutes in about five weeks due to the leg injury he sustained at Juventus.
If he’s not fully fit against England and we can’t have him for 90, we’ll have to defend a bit more, we’ll have to drop back a bit more and when that happens our level often drops.
But there’s a reason why I think Berhalter may not have played Reyna against Wales, which surprised me and was a big talking point.
McKennie wasn’t the only USMNT player to go into this tournament due to a recent injury. Sergino Dest at right-back and Sargeant in attack also had some problems, and Christian Pulisic hasn’t played many minutes for Chelsea this season. There are already four players that Berhalter could have come up with to manage the workload before the game even starts.
Weston McKennie played well, but was unable to play 90 minutes due to a recent injury
USA coach Gregg Berhalter has come under scrutiny for other tactical decisions
Most surprising was his call to leave Gio Reyna as an unused substitute against Wales
BRAD FRIEDEL STATISTICS
– 82 USA caps, 21 shutouts and three World Cups – 1994, 1998 and 2002
– 450 Premier League games, for English giants like Liverpool, Tottenham and Aston Villa and 132 shutouts
– He holds a Premier League record for playing 310 direct matches from 2004-2005 to 2012
If Reyna started too, that’s five. Yes, you have five substitutes, but you also need to use them to react to the match ahead on the pitch – you can’t already have them scheduled based on the fitness of the players.
And maybe Reyna had a flaw. There were silent suggestions that he was feeling a little tight after the scrimmage the US played against a local Qatari team last Thursday. But one thing is for sure: I’m not going to use the “Gregg prefers MLS players” line to criticize him, as I’ve seen elsewhere.
Kellyn Acosta and Weah’s immediate replacement, Jordan Morris, are good players. Acosta is good – circumstances and years on his contract have kept him out of Europe, not his abilities. He also made an important challenge on Bale late, when the Welshman could have chipped Turner for being wide off target.
We can still qualify, of course, but it’s much more difficult now. It could be about goal difference and who does better against Iran. But as Argentina has shown, anything can happen.
On Friday, England will try to start fast – it’s a team that always does whether it’s against Spain, the US or Iran. And with those attacking players, it’s pretty unforgiving. They try to last 90 minutes and that’s the culture of the Premier League.
What was really impressive with England against Iran is that, unlike the US, the substitutes came and the level rose. They had fresh legs, but were just as good as the players they were replacing. Ok, Callum Wilson, with all due respect, is a bit of a letdown to Harry Kane and if the England captain misses Friday with his ankle injury then it’s a big boost for the US, but Wilson is still a very respectable player.
Friedel believes England star Phil Foden, who was to be a substitute on Friday, would help USMNT
England started the World Cup campaign with an impressive 6-2 win against Iran in Qatar
I was surprised to see Phil Foden on the bench for England, he’s one of my favorite England players. I hope Gareth keeps him there Friday! He’s a great player and at Manchester City Pep Guardiola’s coaching and the system Pep plays are perfect for him.
As I said in my previous column, I am not concerned about our mentality. We will dig, work hard, and I think the game will be difficult for England.
I’m more concerned about the Iran game now. Who knows what their result will be against Wales and how they feel with everything that is happening in that country.
But this seems like a tournament for setbacks. Saudi Arabia beat Argentina, Japan beat Germany and we too can cause a shock.