“Team USA–Wales–Corner Kick Comments”
It could have been a victory. It wound up as a tie. If feels like a loss.
USA 1-Wales 1
The opening game of World Cup group play saw the USA dominate the first half, get a 1-0 lead on a fabulous Christian Pulisic pass that sprang Tim Weah free on a breakaway goal in the 32nd minute.
Wales came back to dominate the final 45-minutes and the nearly 10-minutes extra time, tying the game on a Gareth Bale rocket shot penalty kick in the 82nd minute.
The Walker Zimmerman foul on Bale, a sliding tackle in a confined area was needless and it turned out be costly. A bang-bang play, the yellow card, and then a bang bang blistering penalty shot into the net. It changed everything.
In between those goals, it was intense, dirty, physical, violent and full of arguments.
Team USA got slapped with 5-yellow cards, four in the opening half for what the refs viewed as rough tackles.
The second half saw players go down with rough play, cramps and questionable hits.
Pulisic was a marked man, fouled constantly, and yet soldiered on to make plays at both ends of the pitch.
The USA roster, average age 25, ran out of gas and by halftime looked spent. They were dominated from the 46th minute thru the 100th minute when the final whistle was blown.
American goaltender Matt Turner made an amazing save,leaping high to deflect a wicked shot just over the cross bar in the first half. He came back and made back to back saves in the 88th minute coming off a corner kick.
Turner had no chance on the laser shot penalty blast from Bale, his 41st goal in international play.
There was a 15-minute stretch early in the second half where the US fullbacks, cleared 6-loose balls out of the box and headed 4-crossing passes out in front as Wales The pressure on the USA back end was immense, the field tilted, and nothing changed the rest of the way.
A fatigued American side now has to regroup after taking a pounding all over the field by the veteran Wales side. Getting their legs back will be a challenge.
So will the questions for coach Gregg Berhalter, who made mass substitutions in the second half, but did not bring on sniper forward Gia Reyna into the game when fatigue over took them
It was emotional and you could cut thru the intensity with a knife. The singing of the national anthems was moving. The electricity in the stands started early and ended late.
The noise was relentless and so was the play.
Yes USA got a point out of this, but the road gets harder as they regroup to face England on Friday. England loaded with goal scoring stars Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and so many more stars from the English Premier League.
The game with Wales could have been a win, wound up in a tie, and felt like a bad loss. Not the way we thought it would start. Not the way Team USA imagined it would start either.