Why the USMNT now needs to beat England


Doha, Qatar – since April 1, when it was Group B of the 2022 World Cup was drawn up in an impressive draw Here in Doha, there was an initial assumption, drawn from the history and surroundings of this group, that four points might suffice.

The thinking went that the USA could draw Wales, lose respectably to England, defeat Iran and lead on goal difference. Similar outputs, after all, have propelled the U.S. men’s national team into the knockout stages of World Cups in the past. A win-loss break-even was the formula in 2002 and 2014.

But Iran’s dramatic victory over Wales on FridaySeven hours ago Americans start against Englandchanged the calculus.

Goal difference no longer matters.

In fact, the tie probably wouldn’t matter.

The USMNT must go, at 10 p.m. ET in Al Khor, Qatar (2 p.m. ET, Fox/Telemundo), to win.

Two stoppage time goals moved Iran to three points and left Wales one point behind. And they meant that unless the USA defeated England on Friday, they would have to beat Iran next Tuesday on the final day of the group to advance.

The only scenario in which a draw with England would be advantageous is one in which Wales beat England in the final. In this unlikely scenario, tonight’s draw would be the difference between the United States topping the group and falling apart.

It’s unclear if the USMNT would change its approach based on Iran’s victory, which ended just hours before the American players boarded the bus at their team hotel and made the hour-long drive to Al Bayt Stadium. Months of planning had already been done over the last few days of training. And according to a USMNT player last week, the starting lineup is often decided by game morning at the latest.

There were immediate suggestions among fans and pundits that the United States should rest key players against England, to maximize freshness in a potentially winning match against a tough Iranian team. But that’s unlikely — the expectations here are that the US lineup won’t change much.

What is clear, however, is that Iran’s victory should change the way coach Greg Berhalter manages the game, especially in the second half. If the game is even, there is nothing to protect, and there is no reason to play it safe.

So, in a nutshell: the England match is not a win or bust, because the worst case scenario is the Iran match is a win or bust. But this is how the USMNT should handle it.

RAYAN, QATAR - NOVEMBER 21: Christian Pulisic of the USA during the World Cup match between USA vs. Wales at Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium on November 21, 2022 in Al-Rayyan Qatar (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Socrates/Getty Images)

Christian Pulisic of the USA during the World Cup match between the USA and Wales at Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium on November 21, 2022 in Al-Rayyan Qatar (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)





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