After a disappointing 1-1 draw against Wales, this World Cup won’t get any easier for the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT).
An impressive first-half performance and a well-taken goal from Timothy Weah were canceled out by Gareth Bale’s late penalty on Monday as the young USMNT were denied a win at the start of their campaign in Qatar.
Next up is England, favorites to top Group B after thrashing Iran 6-2 earlier this week – an ominous sign for Wales and the USMNT in their quest to qualify for the knockout stages.
But win or draw against England and US coach Gregg Berhalter will know that a place in the next round could be within his team’s grasp with a game against Iran to come.
It will be the biggest test of the USMNT’s so-called “Golden Generation” under Berhalter and potentially an era-defining game for a team that has struggled to hit form throughout the qualifying rounds.
“We know how much quality England will have. But again, we think we’ll do well against them,” US captain Tyler Adams said earlier this week, according to ESPN.
“We have an athletic team. We think when we are on the ball, we are very dominant. You see that [against Wales] with our counter pressure and the way we were able to create a lot of transition moments.”
Friday’s match will be played at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor city, starting at 2pm ET.
You have to go back to 2002 for the last time the USMNT beat European opposition at the World Cup, although it did earn a 1-1 draw against England at the 2010 edition of the tournament in South Africa.
Otherwise, the results have gone in England’s favour, winning eight of the teams’ 11 meetings, and another win would guarantee the 1966 World Cup winners 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 may look to 20-year-old Giovanni Reyna to sharpen his side’s attack.
Reyna was an unused substitute against Wales and said his fitness was “very good” after being marred by injury in recent months.
Wales and Iran square off in another Group B match on Friday when they meet at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
Despite being next to each other in the FIFA rankings, Rob Page’s Wales side will be confident of victory after England exposed the weaknesses of Iran’s defense on Monday. For both teams, it felt like a must-win game to qualify for the knockout stages.
Hosts Qatar are also back in action on Friday against Senegal, two nations that both suffered defeats in their opening matches. Qatar were beaten 2-0 by Ecuador and Senegal lost by the same goal to the Netherlands.
The two victorious teams will look to make it two wins from two when they meet at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Wales vs Iran – 5am ET
Qatar vs. Senegal – 8 a.m. ET
Netherlands vs. Ecuador – 11 a.m. ET
England vs USA – 2pm ET
US: Fox Sports
UK: BBC or ITV
Germany: ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Telekom
Canada: Bell Media
South Africa: SABC