After a disappointing 1-1 draw against Wales, this World Cup isn’t going 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 were canceled out by Gareth Bale’s late penalty on Monday as the young USMNT side were denied victory at the start of their campaign in Qatar.
Next up are England, favorites to top Group B, having crushed Iran 6-2 earlier this week – an ominous sign for Wales and the USMNT in their bid to qualify for the knockouts.
But a win or draw against England and USA coach Greg Burhalter will know a place in the next round could be in his team’s hands with a game against Iran to follow.
It will be the biggest test the USMNT’s so-called “Golden Generation” has faced under Berhalter and possibly an era-defining game for a team that has struggled for form throughout the qualifying rounds.
“We know how much quality England will have. But again, we think we match up well against them,” US captain Tyler Adams said earlier this week, according to ESPN.
“We have a sports team. We think we are really dominant on the ball at times. Did you see that [against Wales] with our counter-press and how we can create a lot of transition moments.”
Friday’s match will be played at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor City, kick-off at 2pm. ET.
You have to go back to 2002 for the last time the USMNT defeated European opposition at the World Cup, although they did secure a 1-1 draw against England at the 2010 tournament in South Africa.
Otherwise, the results have tended to favor England, winning eight of the teams’ 11 meetings, and another win would ensure 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 Giovani Reina to sharpen his side’s attack.
Reina was an unused substitute against Wales and said his fitness is “really good” having been hit by injuries in recent months.
Wales and Iran compete in the other Group B game on Friday when they meet at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
Despite being side by side in the FIFA rankings, Rob Page’s Wales side will be confident of a win after England exposed Iran’s defensive frailties on Monday. For both teams, it’s a must-win game to qualify for the knockout stages.
Hosts Qatar also return to action on Friday against Senegal, two nations who both suffered defeats in their opening matches. Qatar were beaten 2-0 by Ecuador and Senegal lost by the same score to the Netherlands.
These two winning teams will look to make it two wins out of two when they meet at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Wales vs Iran – 5am Eastern time
Qatar vs Senegal – 8am ET
Netherlands v Ecuador – 11am ET
England – USA – 2:00 PM ET
USA: Fox Sports
UK: BBC or ITV
Germany: ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Telekom
Canada: Bell Media
South Africa: SABC