Matt Turner: “It’s disappointing. It’s a learning experience as painful as that sounds to the fans.” (Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
One of the best known clichés in the beautiful game is:
Soccer is a game of two halves.
And the U.S. men’s national team proved to be a perfect example of that in its 1-1 draw with Wales in its World Cup Group B opener on Monday.
In the first half, the Americans looked sharp and did everything but put a bushful of goals into the net Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar.
The second half was another matter. The Welsh laid siege to the USA goal at times and their persistence paid off with an 82nd-minute penalty kick that knotted things up.
“For us, it’s disappointing,” goalkeeper Matt Turner told FOX after the game. “It’s a learning experience, as painful as that sounds to the fans.
“We came out on fire. We just couldn’t sustain it. In the second half, we really struggled to get a footing in the game and credit to them. They made some adjustments. They’re an experienced team and they were able to get their goal and to get to get the point that they needed.”
"We have to keep our heads held high. We go away with a point and we have to focus on the next game now."@tyler_adams14 shares his thoughts on the @USMNT opening match with @JennyTaft ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/NvWDO3ZAkA
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 21, 2022
Added team captain Tyler Adams: “It comes down to the smallest details in the games.”
As the USA watched two points fly out the window.
During their postgame TV interviews, the U.S. players kept a stiff upper lip.
“In the first half, we had a lot of energy, a lot of momentum,” said forward Tim Weah, who scored the U.S.’s lone goal on its only shot on target. “We g0t most of the possession and then coming into the second half, I feel like we doubled down and Wales turns it up a notch and they started pressing as they had most of the ball.
“At the end, that’s what really hurt us. Now we just have to be better in both halves. And we have to come up with stronger. Wales played five at the back, which is very difficult. They did a great job of holding us.
“The most important thing is that we didn’t lose. We kept the tie.”
The draw felt like a loss for the U.S. squad.
“That’s football,” Adams said. “In the end. I’m very proud of the team with the start that we had. We played with a bunch of confidence today for a large part of the game. We dominated the game. For a lot of us being a first World Cup. You can see an ambitious group, a fearless group.”
After Gareth Bale’s penalty kick knotted things up in the 82nd minute, the Americans had to hold off the Welsh.
“We had to adapt in certain situations during this game,” Adams said. Obviously after the goal, they gained a little bit of momentum and we had to deal with that. They’re throwing balls in the box. But in the end, we dealt with them well. We created a match plan. We were disciplined in the match plan and we followed it. We couldn’t execute and get another goal in the end. But we kept level-headed, and we took a point out of it. So that’s good.”
Next up on the Americans’ schedule is England on Friday at 2 p.m. ET (FOX).