World Cup 2022: USMNT confident ahead of England tilt, despite Wales letdown

AL RAYYAN, Qatar — When asked a direct question, Christian Pulisic gave a direct answer.

“Absolutely,” said the U.S. star winger, when asked if, despite the crushing disappointment of giving up a late lead to draw 1-1 with Wales, the Americans could find a way to beat in heavily favored England in their next game on Friday (2 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app).

Wait, I said shredding disappointment?

A setback is only overwhelming if you let it crush you, and there were certainly no vibes like that from coach Gregg Berhalter’s players as they addressed what had just happened to kick off their Group B campaign.

Instead of cowering in the face of the reality that they were eight minutes away from starting the competition with a dream and setting foot in the knockout stages, the young, inexperienced, but fiercely united American collective he spoke with the intention of a team that does not I do not see why he should fear England’s European runners-up.

“I think we have a good enough team to get out of this group,” added Pulisic. “England is our next test, and we will go in to be aggressive and try to win the game. I want to win. I am very competitive. I love this team very much. I am honored to play in the world. Cup for my country, so the least all I can do is give it all I’ve got.”

Spoken like a winner. Not usually the words of someone who has just seen his World Cup debut end with a late punch. The athlete didn’t discuss Pulisic’s response, just a frank assessment of where he thinks the team’s confidence level is.

Monday’s shock came after Wales had been dominated in the first half and Tim Weah had put the USA ahead, before Gareth Bale’s 82nd-minute penalty secured the points.

Facing a painful outcome and instantly promising to fire back immediately shows character and courage. Who knows if the Americans can pull off an upset against an England team that hammered Iran 6-2, or even come away with another precious point.

What was more important was that no more than an hour after the final whistle, they were mentally ready to throw themselves back into the fray. That’s the mark of a team that believes in what they’re doing, not to mention Berhalter must have hit the right notes in his post-match report.

If the concept of speaking things into existence is as real as its disciples proclaim, you won’t want to miss Friday’s action from Al Bayt Stadium to northern Doha.

“Look at the country we’re representing,” Weah told me, holding his shirt just above his heart, because that’s where the coat of arms is. “Our motto is, without a doubt, ‘Courage, relentlessness and fight for our country.’ This is what we have to do. We have a lot of people counting on us at home.”

“We have to keep our heads high”

"We must hold our heads high"

Tyler Adams talks about USA surrendering a late lead to draw with Wales in World Cup opener.

Match scheduling in World Cup groups is a bigger factor than most give it credit for. If you were to hold your feet to the fire, Berhalter would probably admit he would have preferred to be matched with Iran in Game 2 and England to finish the group stage.

Still, maybe the usual rules don’t apply when it comes to a team full of American World Cup debutants who don’t seem to understand the meaning of the word “fear.” Or, if they do, they don’t know how to play like that.

They know England’s reputation, they know what the expected result is. They know that millions of football fans around the world believe they will be three points clear of Wales once the next round of games is completed on Friday night.

They just don’t agree.

“I wouldn’t be in this business if I didn’t think I could beat whoever was on the field,” goaltender Matt Turner said. “Obviously, England are a great team. They scored a lot of goals today, and they’ve had great success in international tournaments. So they’ve got a lot of quality and it’s going to take a lot of effort, but I can’t sit here and say we’ve got no chance , otherwise why am I playing?”

With a number of players plying their trade in the English Premier League or the second-tier Championship, England’s style of play, even with the brilliance of teenage sensation Jude Bellingham’s midfield brilliance and the hard-hitting intensity of striker Harry Kane , at least it will bring a sense of familiarity. about this.

Former USMNT player Sacha Kljestan criticized the second-half effort

Former USMNT player Sacha Kljestan criticized the second-half effort

The “FIFA World Cup Now” crew recaps the USMNT’s first draw against Wales. Former US player Sacha Kljestan says the match was a tale of two sides.

“I think we match them up well,” U.S. captain Tyler Adams said. “Football is a game of inches, and it comes down to minimal mistakes or minimal details. Obviously we’re going to rely on our game plan, and we’re going to rely on the coach’s ability to set us up well. They also have variables.” so at the end of the day it’s about certain moments of the game.”

Even the player who perhaps had the most reason for a gloomy disposition couldn’t have been further from one. Walker Zimmerman’s challenge was called for the foul on Bale that led to the equalizing penalty, but you wouldn’t know it as he stopped his stroll through the bowels of the Ahman bin Ali Stadium on his way to the bus of the team

“We’re focused on (England),” Zimmerman said. “We’ve already got through this one. We know a result would be massive to get the second game. We go into every game to win. That’s no different with the England game. We want to get three points to go a long way out of the group , and we know that moments matter.”

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Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX i subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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