By Nick Adamopoulos –
After qualifying at the end of March for this winter’s World Cup in Qatar, the US Men’s National Team learned the other teams they’d be playing during the opening round of the tournament. The US was drawn into Group B and will face England, Iran and the European Playoff Winner (either Wales, Ukraine, or Scotland).
The US will start its tournament play on November 21st against the European Playoff Winner, followed by a game on November 25th (the Friday after Thanksgiving) against England, and will conclude group play on November 29th against Iran. At first glance, England is the clear favorite to win the Group and secure advancement to the next round. It can be argued that England is easily one of the top 5-8 teams in the tournament, and a perennial threat to any team. The fact that England and the US will play following Thanksgiving with an early afternoon start, should bring a tremendous amount of viewership and excitement to the matchup. This game will be a pivotal “measuring stick” to see just how far the US’s young group has matured when it comes to facing top notch international competition.
Besides England, the US has the second-best chance of moving out of the group stage. The US is currently ranked 15th in the FIFA World Rankings. While Iran, 21st in FIFA rankings, have qualified for six different world cups; they have failed to advance beyond the group stage in each of those competitions. Over the course of those six tournaments, the Iranians have won only two games. However, one of those wins did come against the US in 1998. Wales is the most likely country to advance from the European Playoff. Wales is ranked 18th in the FIFA World Rankings. While Wales has had little success in the World Cup, they have qualified for the last two European Championships, reaching the semifinals in 2016. The recent play of Wales is indicative of a team and country that is greatly improving in international competition.
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is set to begin on Monday November 21st. The Group Stage will end on Friday, December 2nd. The tournament’s final game is scheduled for December 18th.
The US will play games on the following dates and times:
Monday, November 21st, USA v. Playoff Winner at 2pm ET
Friday, November 25th, USA v. England at 2pm ET
Tuesday, November 29th, USA v. Iran at 2pm ET.
The Winner of Group B will play the Runner Up of Group A. The Runner -Up of Group B will play the winner of Group A. Group A is comprised of host country Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, and the Netherlands.