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USMNT’s road to the World Cup knockout round just got much tougher

The USMNT drew with Wales in the opening game of the World Cup group stage after giving up a late penalty to Gareth Bale. Their road to the knockout round just got tougher.

A first half goal by Tim Weah put the United States in the driver’s seat, but they were unable to capitalize on several chances thereafter — including a whiffed header by the so-called Medford Messi, Brenden Aaronson — and had to settle for a tie.

In the World Cup and most international tournaments, for that matter, a draw is one point. Considering England dominated Iran by a 6-2 scoreline earlier on Monday, the USMNT have their work cut out for them in their next contest against the stacked English side.

World Cup: USMNT path to knockout round

The most realistic path to the knockout round for the U.S. would be to avoid getting shellacked by England on Black Friday, and then defeating Iran by a multiple-goal scoreline. Of course, much of this depends on how Wales plays against those same opponents, which makes the late penalty given up to Bale all the more frustrating.

USMNT have lost the right to control their own destiny, unless they can manage points against England, one of the best national teams by FIFA ranking.

Is there overtime in the World Cup?

As some U.S. soccer fans found out for the first time (don’t make fun of us), there is no overtime in the group stage of the World Cup. Come the knockout stage, there will be two 15-minute periods of extra time before the contest is decided by penalty kicks.

However, in the group stage, a draw is just that, and secures one point for both teams. Because there are three games to determine one’s fate, a tie does have some value.

USMNT player grades vs Wales

It would be tough to grade the entire team, though we can point out a few top performers, and perhaps some who need to play better against a top opponent like England.

Tim Weah – B+Christian Pulisic – C+Matt Turner – B-Walker Zimmerman – D

While Weah did score the opening goal, the United States failed to register a second-half shot on goal, and didn’t create many opportunities. This says more about Pulisic, who is the leader in the midfield and meant to take some pressure off an already-beleaguered defense. The USMNT controlled the pace for the first 45 minutes, only to be forced into a much different style in the second half thanks to increased chances from Wales.

Turner played well enough to secure a tie, and even got a hand on Gareth Bale’s penalty. However, he looked uncomfortable at times coming out of the box, and needs to be more decisive. Zimmerman’s foul on Bale led to the only Wales goal, and it was fully unnecessary. For such a stable, veteran force on the back end, the U.S. expects far better on this stage.

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