US waste a dominant performance to draw 1-1 with Wales in their World Cup opener

AL RAYYAN, Qatar — Christian Pulisic had waited 1,868 days, and Tim Weah almost as long, to hear the roar. They had endured the darkest five years in American soccer history for nights like Monday, for an opportunity to bring a nation to its feet, for a chance to lift a lifetime of work onto a World Cup stage. They had suffered, and slapped away doubts, and persevered to feel an explosion. At 10:36 p.m. here at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, they scored the goal that instigated it — and for an hour, it appeared that they’d won the U.S. men’s national team its 2022 World Cup opener.

But on 82 minutes, Gareth Bale instigated a louder explosion. And the USMNT had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Wales.

They were superior, so far superior, for 45 minutes. Then they receded and tried to survive a Welsh storm. They survived it for 35 minutes. But with pressure growing, Walker Zimmerman fouled Bale in the penalty area. Bale converted from the spot. And what could have been a dazzling, uplifting night turned damp.

The draw is not disastrous. It leaves the U.S., still, as favorites to advance from Group B. But the point will be tinged with disappointment. And pressure, on Friday against England, will be intense.

It also felt like a missed opportunity. Weah’s goal, after Pulisic had glided past Welshmen, felt like the christening of a new era, a moment for a country to rally around, the beginning of what could be a special World Cup.

Instead, emotions are mixed, complicated and conflicting. The first half was promising. The second half was not. Zimmerman whipped his hands down his cheeks in frustration at the final whistle.

The past is now the past. The USMNT has definitively been reborn. The eight-year wait for their World Cup return is over. But the future — the immediate-term future, and the long-term one — is uncertain.

SOURCE: Yahoo Sports 

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