Two World Cup droughts will be ended when the United States meets Wales on Matchday 1 of Group B competition of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
You can catch the United States vs. Wales on Monday at 2pm ET/11am PT across the TSN Network, TSN.ca and the TSN App.
Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT will be playing in their first World Cup match in 3,065 days after having missed out on qualifying for Russia 2018. For Rob Page’s Dragons, the time in between World Cup matches will have been just a little bit longer. Having last appeared in a World Cup match in 1958, the match against the United States will be Wales’ first at world football’s premier quadrennial tournament in 23,531 days.
With the longest ever gaps in between a first and second World Cup appearance, it’s needless to say the excitement level for football-mad Wales is off the charts heading into Qatar.
"It's probably the biggest honour we could have for our country, qualifying for a World Cup, something we haven't done in 64 years," Wales captain Gareth Bale, fresh off of an MLS Cup triumph with Los Angeles FC, said. "It's history in our country. Schools are going to stop to watch our games. Kids are going to miss school, fortunately for them. It's a massive piece of history in our country and something we have all wanted for a long time. We have the support of the nation back home, no matter what happens, as long as we give 100 per cent our country will love us for that."
You can watch every game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup LIVE on TSN, TSN.ca and the TSN App.
The Welsh were going dream big no matter what at this World Cup, yet there’s a very real path to the knockout round for the Dragons in Group B. But for that to happen, Wales will need a result against the USMNT.
"We are grateful that we have got to this stage,” Page said. “But you look at the group and you start to look at the teams individually…there is no disrespect to the other teams, but we have to go into the group with huge confidence that we can get out of the group, and we do."
Playing loose, Page says, will be a key to performing in Qatar.
"There's no pressure on us,” Page said. “We're going to enjoy it. We're going to compete and I've said to the group: 'We're not here to make the numbers up, we're here because we've earned the right to be here, because we're a good team, and I want to go and show the world how good we are’.”
And while this is the first World Cup in decades for Wales, it’s not the first high-level competition that this group has competed in together. The Dragons qualified for the last two Euros and reached the semi-finals in 2016.
The USMNT opens up their World Cup coming off of what wasn’t the most convincing qualifying campaign, finishing third in CONCACAF qualifying and ahead of Costa Rica only on goal differential for the final automatic spot in the confederation. But like the Dragons, the United States sees a Group B that provides an opportunity to return to the knockouts.
"Look, it is a great honor to play in the World Cup, but we don't want to just be participants," Berhalter told ESPN. "We want to perform."
The international history between the two sides isn’t a lengthy one. The USMNT and Wales have only met twice before and never in a competitive fixture. In 2003, the United States were 2-0 victors in San Jose on goals from Landon Donovan and Eddie Lewis. The teams met again in Cardiff in the fall of 2020 with the two sides playing to a 0-0 draw.
Both managers will have almost full complements of players to choose from, but veteran Swansea City midfielder Joe Allen is unavailable for the Dragons with a hamstring injury. The former Liverpool man has not featured in a Championship match since September.
POTENTIAL UNITED STATES XI: Turner; Robinson, Zimmerman, Long, Moore; Adams, McKinnie, Musah; Weah, Reyna, Pulisic
POTENTIAL WALES XI: Hennessey; Roberts, Ampadu, Rodon, Ben Davies, Neco Williams; Ramsey, Wilson; Moore, Bale, James