After a frustrating 1-1 draw against Wales, this World Cup isn’t about to get any easier for the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT).
A promising first-half performance and a well-taken goal from Timothy Weah was canceled out by Gareth Bale’s late penalty on Monday as the youthful USMNT team was denied victory at the start of its campaign in Qatar.
Next up is England, the favorite to top Group B having thrashed Iran 6-2 earlier this week – an ominous sign for Wales and the USMNT in their bids to qualify for the knockout stages.
But win or draw against England and US coach Gregg Berhalter will know that a berth in the next round could be within his side’s grasp 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 side that struggled for form throughout the qualifying rounds.
“We know how much quality England’s going to have. But again, we think that we match up well against them,” US captain Tyler Adams said earlier this week, according to ESPN.
“We have an athletic team. We think that against the ball we’re really dominant at times. You saw that [against Wales] with our counter-pressing and how we’re able to create a lot of transition moments.”
Friday’s game will be played at Al Bayt Stadium in the city of Al Khor, kicking off at 2 p.m. ET.
You have to go all the way back to 2002 for the last time the USMNT defeated a European opponent at the World Cup, although it did secure a 1-1 draw against England at the 2010 edition of the tournament in South Africa.
Otherwise, results have tended to go in England’s favor, winning eight of the sides’ 11 meetings, and another victory would guarantee the 1966 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 a scan on his ankle earlier this week, while Berhalter might look to 20-year-old Giovanni Reyna to sharpen his side’s attack.