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International

US to Open World Cup vs Wales, Held to 0-0 Draw by Uruguay

KANSAS CITY, Kan, — Two months after the World Cup draw, the United States learned it will open the tournament against Wales on Nov 21.

“It’s full steam ahead, concentrating on Wales,” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said after Sunday’s 0-0 draw against Uruguay in a prep match.

At the draw on April 1, the U.S. was slotted to open Group B against Wales, Ukraine or Scotland, and to then play England four days later and close the first round against Iran on Nov. 29. FIFA postponed Ukraine’s playoff games following Russia’s attack, and the Ukrainians won 3-1 at Scotland on Wednesday before losing 1-0 at Wales on Sunday in a match that ended about three hours before the Americans kicked off.

“My heart goes out to Ukraine,” Berhalter said. “The whole world was probably behind Ukraine and wanting them to go to the World Cup.”

Wales is ranked 18th in the world, three behind the U.S.

“We know what their team’s about, and we’re going to have to put in a good performance,” American star Christian Pulisic said.

U.S. players watched the last 15 minutes.

Uruguay midfielder Fernando Gorriaran (10) and USA defender Joe Scally (29) chase the ball during the first half of an international friendly soccer match Sunday, June 5, 2022, in Kansas City, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

“To get to play a guy like Gareth Bale I think is something we can all be excited about,” defender Walker Zimmerman said, referring to Wales’ career scoring leader.

Jesús Ferreira failed to convert a pair of first-half chances as U.S. forwards kept up their goal-scoring struggles in their second of four World Cup warmup matches this month.

The Americans stretched their home unbeaten streak to 25 matches since a September 2019 loss to Mexico. That’s one shy of the team record set from 2013-15.

Ferreira had the best American chances, a 15-yard shot saved by Fernando Muslera in the 19th and then an open header wide a minute later. Haji Wright, who debuted Wednesday, replaced Ferreira in the 61st.

American forwards have one goal in the team’s last 13 matches — by Ferreira in a 5-1 rout of Panama in a World Cup qualifier on March 27.

“The final pass was a bit off,” Berhalter said. “We’ll keep working with these guys.”

Edinson Cavani was wide with an 8-yard shot for Uruguay in the third minute of second-half stoppage time.

In the United States’ first game against a South American opponent since a 1-1 draw against Uruguay at St. Louis in 2019, midfielder Weston McKennie played the first half in his first start for club and country since breaking two bones in his left foot with Juventus on Feb. 22.

Uruguay defender Martin Caceres (4) and USA forward Christian Pulisic (10) chase the ball during the first half of an international friendly soccer match Sunday, June 5, 2022, in Kansas City, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Sean Johnson was in goal for the United States for the 10th time, the first since January 2020, and he used his left shin to make a point-blank block on Darwin Núñez in the 61st.

“I’ve been waiting quite some time for a moment like this,” the 32-year-old Johnson said. “Would love to build on it.”

Pulisic at 23 years, 71 days became the seventh-youngest American to make 50 international appearances after Landon Donovan (22 years, 28 days), Chris Henderson, Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley and Tony Meola.

The 15th-ranked U.S. started right back DeAndre Yedlin for Reggie Cannon, left back Joe Scally in place of Antonee Robinson and McKennie instead of Brenden Aaronson.

Yedlin stood out in bright green hair. Scally got his first start after making his debut against Morocco and shifted to the right when Robinson replaced Yedlin in the 62nd.

Uruguay forward Facundo Pellistri (8) and USA defender Walker Zimmerman, back, battle for the ball during the second half of an international friendly soccer match Sunday, June 5, 2022, in Kansas City, Kan. The match ended in a 0-0 tie. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The U.S. wore jerseys with rainbow-colored numbers for Pride Month and wore orange armbands to raise awareness against gun violence.

In an odd twist, match officials allowed Uruguay to make seven substitutions, one more than rules allow.

Uruguay coach Diego Alonso changed 10 starters from Thursday’s 3-0 win over Mexico, keeping only defender Jose Giménez.

The U.S. plays 170th-ranked Grenada on Friday at Austin, Texas, in its World Cup sendoff, the first of two CONCACAF Nations League matches, then is at No. 74 El Salvador on June 14.

No. 13 Uruguay plays South Korea, Portugal and Ghana in Group H.

 

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