Together they share the camaraderie of fraternity brothers. They are blessed with fresh feet and wrinkle-free faces. They don’t know anything better than to be full of confidence. This is the United States men’s soccer team and they are very young. With an average age of 25 years 214 days, they will be the second oldest of 32 teams when the Football World Cup kicks off in Qatar on Sunday, according to Nielsen’s Gracenote. Only in Ghana, where the median age is 25 years 108 days, is the team of 26 younger.
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This is the first American Gen Z World Cup team. Time will tell if they represent, as many hope, the golden generation. At least now they have youth, the endless possibility of tomorrow, and the pleasant unsettling feeling that they might be on the verge of something very, very good.
“One of them didn’t know who Prince was, midfielder Kellin Acosta, 27, one of the senior players on the team, said of his younger teammates. It’s like, Wait, how old are you?”
Of course, age is just a number, and it only tells a snippet of the story when you evaluate a team against the pitch. However, for one group of players, this may be a narratively significant data point, a marker of a place in a developmental arc.
More broadly, and potentially more troubling for the US team this year, historical statistics show that an excess of young players does not bode well for the team’s Football World Cup performance: only five teams in the last 12 World Cups – Poland (1974, 1982 and 1982). ), Brazil (1978), Sweden (1994) and Germany (2010).
So this tournament is coming to an interesting point in time for American men. Never before has the US national team brought together so many players competing against the best teams in the world’s best leagues: Champions League winners as well as players who have lifted trophies in England, Germany, France and Italy. But at the same time, these are athletes who are clearly still finding themselves, still coming to their senses, still ascending to the heights of their abilities.
Are they ready for the biggest sporting event in the world? Or did the tournament arrive a few years earlier? We see our youth as an advantage, said defenseman Walker Zimmerman, a Football World Cup debut at 29. We know we have the energy, the power and the ability to cause trouble for teams.
Just how young are these players?
Christian Pulisic, team captain and best player, was born on September 18, 1998, the day Rush Hour was released in theaters. Forward Jesús Ferreira was born on December 24, 2000, when Destiny Child’s “Independent Women Part I” was number one in the US. Striker Gio Reina was born on November 13, 2002, five months after the US team, led by his father Claudio, was eliminated from Germany in the quarter-finals of the Football World Cup in South Korea.
“I was in my mom’s stomach, Reyna said of the match that ended with that run, a 1-0 loss to Germany that included the infamous goal line handball. I just know they got robbed.”
Reyna, who turned 20 this week, and defenseman Joe Scully and linebacker Yunus Musah, both 19, are three American players who are not yet old enough to legally purchase alcoholic beverages in the US. Their teammate Brenden Aaronson, 22, quoted earlier this year. that the team, though young, had no shortage of experience. Many of them, including Aaronson, turned pro in their teens and many of them now play in intense domestic competitions such as the English Premier League and elite continental competitions such as the Champions League.
“A lot of the guys on the team have played big games in their careers so far, Aaronson said. It’s a young team, but I think there are a lot of, you could say, old heads in it.”
That hasn’t stopped some (slightly) older players from feeling old among their teammates. Some of these guys weren’t even born when 9/11 happened, defenseman DeAndre Yedlin, 29, said. , a direct result of the team’s disastrous failure to qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia. This humiliation – the first absence of the United States from the Football World Cup since 1986 – led to a complete overhaul of the program.
Gone are the old coaching staff and former die-hard players. (Only five players—Yedlin, Pulisic, Acosta, Morris, and Reem—remained in that campaign.) They were replaced by a crop of untested prospects and a new marketing slogan, “Only Forward,” which sought to orient the team’s brand to the future.
So the Americans have the potential, but maybe not the pedigree yet. Their collective youth is certainly a conscious choice by coach Gregg Berhalter. But it’s not exactly a gang of American stars in their 20s demanding to be chosen ahead of the current roster. The absence of national team members born in the early to mid-1990s led experts to speak of the “lost generation” of the program.
This has forced young players to learn on the fly over the past few years, going through ups and downs with a few wise veterans to lean on. But the trial by fire was a bonding experience. Team members play video games online together. They hang out together on trips. They claim that there is no clique in the detachment.
“As a team, our biggest strength is our understanding, our brotherhood, which we have to support each other, said 24-year-old midfielder Weston McKenny. We’ve all known each other for so long. We always played against each other when we were growing up, or played against each other. Some of us even lived together.”
Football World Cup squads often include young players to energize a group of veterans, but they are often safely relegated to the bench. On the other hand, young Americans form the core of Berhalter’s team.
For example, in the qualifying round, the US fielded 10 of the 11 youngest starting lineups used by the teams that eventually earned tickets to Qatar Football World Cup. The youngest American squad used in October 2021 against Costa Rica had an average age of just 22.2 years. All but one of the 14 lineups used by Berhalter in the qualifying tournament had an average age of under 25 years old.
Teams with such young starting lineups tend not to do well at the World Championships. According to Nielsen’s Gracenote, almost every one of the 44 teams that played in the Football World Cup Finals or in the final group of the 1950 tournament, which ended in a four-team round-robin fielded a starting 11 teams that averaged at least 26 points. years.
The only exceptions were Argentina in 1930 (24 years 116 days), West Germany in 1966 (25 years 176 days) and Argentina in 1978 (25 years 254 days). The first two were defeated by older opponents, while the third was won in extra time on home soil. Of the 76 teams that played in the 1950 Football World Cup semi-finals or final group, only six fielded starting XIs with an average age of under 26 in those matches.
Berhalter himself saw the benefits that young people, skillfully recruited, could bring in the context of a Football World Cup team. He was on the US national team in 2002, when a team inspired by young talents Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley beat expectations, and in 2006, when the Americans finished last in their group with a team that Berhalter felt lacked the hunger of young players.
At the 2010 Football World Cup, Donovan, then aged 28, scored a memorable last goal against Algeria to help the US through the group stage. But he said that the team’s second leg against Slovenia before this game was just as important that summer, and one that remains in his memory as an example of how the calm voices of veterans can guide teams in difficult situations.
“To lose 2-0 at halftime is the same as losing 4-0 in a normal game, but we had enough lead to get something out of the game, Donovan said. When I look at this team today, if they have early hiccups, if Wales score in the first five minutes, are they able to dig and extract something from the game?”
Current American players also seem to be aware of the pitfalls of youth. In September, after they lost 2-0 to Japan in an exhibition match, Adams suggested they had a lot to learn. Japan had stymied the United States with high pressure, and the Americans weren’t smart enough at the time to adjust.
Our team is young, Adams said that evening. I think today we were a little naive. In a FIFA World Cup where one bad performance, even in the group stage, can be the difference between relegation or promotion, it could spell disaster. For more know about Football World Cup Tickets.
This inexperience has led some to wonder if this Football World Cup has arrived too early for this particular United States team, should its fans instead be pinning their hopes on the 2026 tournament, which will be co-hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico, when this young backbone American players will be older, more experienced, and presumably slightly better. The players at least said they didn’t have time to think that way.
“For us, it’s right now, McKenny said. It’s important for us to be able to make our mark and work towards our goal of changing how the world views American football, and I think now is the time to do that.”
USA vs Wales at Football World Cup, how to watch Qatar World Cup matches on UK TV – Date UK kick-off times and squad news
Wales are currently making final preparations for their grand return to the FIFA World Cup. This will be the first time since 1958 that Wales have qualified for a proper Football World Cup tournament, and after two strong performances in the recent European Championships, they hope to get as far, if not further, than they did over 60 years ago.
The Red Dragons narrowly missed out on a Football World Cup playoff in 2018, but this year Rob Page’s team outperformed many expectations by reaching the finals while the US struggled through the qualifying rounds and their coach Gregg Berhalter is now under increasing pressure to get it. rising stars for delivery. Notably, Berhalter is the first person to represent the United States at the Football World Cup, both as a player and as a coach, after playing for the USMNT in the 2002 and 2006 tournaments.
Star players Christian Pulisic and Weston McKenny will be critical if the US is to move to the next stage, which it will, while Wales talisman Gareth Bale will have his nation’s hopes resting on his shoulders and, in fact, on his left side. sole.
Here is all you need to know ahead of their World Cup fixture next week…
When is USA vs Wales?
Both sides will face off in their first Football World Cup match on Monday 21 November 2022. Kick-off is scheduled for 19:00 GMT and will take place after England’s first match against Iran at 13:00. The Al Rayyan Stadium in Qatar will host the match and the stadium, built in 2003, has a capacity of 44,740 spectators.
How to watch USA vs Wales?
The match will be available on ITV. The BBC and ITV will share coverage of the Football World Cup, with the BBC showing England’s first match and ITV showing Wales’ first match. The broadcast will start at 18:00 GMT before the kick-off at 19:00 and the match will also be available to be streamed live on the ITV streaming service.
USA vs Wales head-to-head
The two countries had only played each other twice before, both international friendly matches. In 2003, the USA won 2-0, and their last meeting in 2020 ended in a 0-0 draw.
While Gareth Bale will no doubt be regarded as Wales’ star in what could very well be his last Football World Cup, Brennan Johnson is also set to light the Wales pitch. There have been a few questions about the former Real Madrid star’s fitness, but now they all come up long before their first match against the USA.
Wales: Wayne Hennessey, Danny Ward, Adam Davies, Ben Davies, Joe Rodon, Ben Cabango, Chris Mepham, Chris Gunter, Connor Roberts, Neco Williams, Ethan Amapdu, Tom Lockyer, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen, Harry Wilson, Joe Morrell, Matthew Smith, Dylan Levitt, Sorba Thomas, Rubin Colwill, Jonny Williams, Gareth Bale (C), Daniel James, Mark Harris, Kieffer Moore, Brennan Johnson.
USA: Ethan Horvath, Sean Johnson, Matt Turner, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Sergino Dest, Aaron Long, Shaq Moore, Tim Ream. Antonee Robinson, Joe Scally, DeAndre Yedlin, Walker Zimmerman, Brenden Aaronson, Kellyn Acosta, Tyler Adams, Luca de la Torre, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, Cristian Roldan, Jesus Ferreira, Jordan Morris, Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Josh Sargent, Tim Weah, Haji Wright.
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