AL RAYYAN, Qatar – For the team itself and its supporters, it was the end of a long wait to return to soccer’s biggest stage.
The United States men’s national team stepped onto the pitch on Monday in Qatar to face Wales in their 2022 World Cup opener, ending an eight-year drought in the tournament. It represented the first of three guaranteed matches for a young team looking to prove themselves on the world stage.
It was nearly a victorious return for the USMNT, but in the end they had to settle with the point.
After grabbing a first half advantage and holding onto the lead deep into the second half, Wales got the equalizer on a penalty kick as the match finished in a 1-1 draw at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan.
This was the first World Cup match for the USMNT since July 1, 2014, when the team lost to Belgium 2-1 in extra time in the first round of the knockout stage in Brazil.
Timothy Weah got the United States on the board in the 36 minute as he took the pass from Christian Pulisic and put it into the net. It held that way until the 82nd minute, when Wales star Gareth Bale was fouled by Walker Zimmerman in the penalty area.
Bale would convert the kick, putting it past US goalkeeper Matt Turner for the equalizer, concluding the scoring for the afternoon.
With a point in the Group B standings, the USMNT now looks ahead to a much-anticipated match-up against England on Friday. That will be played at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, with kickoff scheduled for 1 PM central time.
The final group game for the USMNT will happen on November 29th against Iran at Al Thumama in Doha.