Tim Weah celebrates his goal. (Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

What started so promising, ended on such a disappointing note for the U.S. men’s national team.

Playing to a tie certainly wasn’t the end of the world or the World Cup for the USA, but it wanted more, much more.

The Americans recorded a precious point in their opener against Wales on Monday, but they walked out of Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar wondering what could have been.

Gareth Bale’s penalty kick in the 82nd minute lifted the Welsh into a 1-1 draw in the Group B encounter.

The USA dominated the first half and grabbed a 1-0 lead behind Tim Weah’s goal, but the team could not hold off the surging Welsh over the final 45 minutes.

With the Americans clinging to a one-goal lead, center back Walker Zimmerman fouled Bale in the box. Bale, who scored the equalizing goal in Los Angeles FC’s MLS Cup win on Nov. 5, converted the ensuing penalty kick. He powered a shot into the upper right corner that goalkeeper Matt Turner managed to get a hand on, but not enough.

Some 3,065 days since competing in the grandest stage of the sport in 2014, the Americans played their hearts out in a game that included 11 minutes of stoppage time at the end of the second half.

The USA will now concern itself with a Black Friday confrontation with England in its second match. Earlier in the day, the English trounced Iran in its opener, 6-2.

Head coach Gregg Berhalter could not have choreographed the first half any better.

The Americans dominated for huge stretches of the match, particularly in the first half. They had problems breaking through a strict Wales defense, but eventually found a way a little after the half hour.

The USA grabbed a deserved lead in the 36th minute. Forward Josh Sargent got possession of the ball at midfield, held it up and slipped a pass to Christian Pulisic. Given plenty of space to run, the Hershey, Pa. standout bolted toward the Welsh goal. Spotting an onrushing Weah, Pulisic gave him a perfect through ball and he slotted it home from the outside of his right foot slightly left of the penalty spot past goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

It was the USMNT’s first World Cup goal since Julian Green scored in extratime in a 2-1 loss to Belgium in the Round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

After the Americans’ enjoyed a 2-1 possession advantage in the opening half, Wales woke up for the final 45 minutes and stoppage time.

The Welsh laid siege to the USA goal, forcing their foes to work overtime on defense.

Wales’ best sequence came a little after the hour. Turner, who hardly touched the ball in the first half, parried away Ben Davies’ shot with his right hand in the 64th minute. A minute later, 6-foot-5 halftime substitute Kieffer Moore’s header sailed just over the crossbar.

The USA’s Starting XI, which had a 4-1-2-3 formation, had an average age of 25 years, 102 days. It was the fourth-youngest USMNT lineup at a World Cup, behind the three lineups at Italia โ€™90, in which the starting lineup averaged just over 24 years old.

At 19 years, 358 days, midfielder Yunus Musah became the youngest player to start a World Cup match for the USMNT.

Within a few seconds in the ninth minute, the U.S. almost put the ball into the net twice.

Weah created the first opportunity on the right flank with a hard cross into the box that a Welsh defender headed into the chest of Hennessey.

A few ticks later, Sargent got possession of the ball on the left side as he powered a shot off the left side of the post and out of bounds.

The U.S. was socked with two yellow cards early as Wales’ Neco Williams was fouled by Sergino Dest and Weston McKennie in the 11th and 13th minutes, respectively.