USA take on Wales in crucial opener: NPR

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USA take on Wales in crucial opener: NPR
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USA players warm up ahead of the World Cup Group B soccer match between USA and Wales at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Monday in Doha, Qatar.

Themba Hadebe/AP


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Themba Hadebe/AP

Usa Take On Wales In Crucial Opener: Npr

USA players warm up ahead of the World Cup Group B soccer match between USA and Wales at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Monday in Doha, Qatar.

Themba Hadebe/AP

For the first time in eight years, the United States men’s national team will step onto a FIFA World Cup pitch on Monday afternoon in a crucial opener against Wales.

The Group B game will begin at 2 p.m. Eastern Time.

After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the United States return to the tournament with fresh eyes: only one player out of the 26 on the roster has ever played in a World Cup game, and the team is one of the youngest teams in the whole event.

The United States will look to their young stars who have honed their skills playing in Europe’s top leagues – including Christian Pulisic, the phenomenal 24-year-old winger with Chelsea, and team captain Tyler Adams, the 23-year-old midfielder for Leeds United.

Monday’s opponents Wales have been out of the World Cup for even longer – this year is their first appearance since 1958. But the team’s performances in recent years under captain Gareth Bale , impressed more than one. At 19th, it is ranked only three places behind the United States

Both teams see today as a critical game to win in their tough exit from competitive Group B. No other group has a higher average FIFA ranking than Group B at 15, led by England, favorites to win the entire tournament.

Today’s game was already important for both teams – since 1998, 84% of teams who win their opening game can leave the group stage.

But with England looking dominant in a 6-2 win over Iran, it looks like it’s almost a lock to leave the group – leaving Wales, USA and Iran all jockeys for the second square.

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