The excellent news: The United States each performed and scored in a World Cup match for the primary time in 3,065 days. In itself, that’s trigger for celebration. They performed actually, very well for 45 minutes, too.
The unhealthy information: Matches are 90 minutes lengthy. Wales made glorious strategic changes (and a key substitution) at half-time that the US struggled to account for. Supervisor Gregg Berhalter used just one substitute earlier than the 74th minute and per Anticipated Targets (xG), Wales ended up creating 4 of the very best six pictures within the match regardless of the People’ first-half domination. The US virtually survived with their lead intact, however Walker Zimmerman‘s awkward foul on Gareth Bale arrange a penalty that Bale drilled into the web. A protracted-term 1-0 lead for the US became a 1-1 draw that would have simply been worse.
Extra unhealthy information, maybe: England regarded spectacular earlier within the day, walloping what has traditionally been a defense-centric Iran crew by an eye-popping 6-2 margin. Whereas securing a attract your opening match does not really feel just like the worst final result on this planet, the US is a fair larger underdog in opposition to England on Friday than earlier than and is prone to have one level heading into its ultimate match.
FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Energy Index gave the US a 53% likelihood of advancing to the knockout rounds heading into the event, and sooner or later in that has slipped to 45%. It may have been worse, nevertheless it wanted to be higher.
Let’s dive into the stats from Group B’s first two matches and what they could say about Friday’s USA-England match in addition to the rest of the group stage.
The US completely dominated the primary half (and obtained little from it)
By any semi-common measure in as we speak’s superior stat arsenal, the US manhandled Wales within the first half. They managed 66% of the possession. They made a mixed 98 progressive carries and progressive passes to Wales’ 24. They’d 103 touches within the attacking third to Wales’ 20. Wales obtained shut sufficient to try simply two pictures; one was from 30 meters out, and each badly missed the goal.
This was Gregg Berhalter’s dream. The US was controlling the motion and hogging the ball. As has been more and more customary, nevertheless, they have been additionally doing little or no with the ball.
The standard ratio of touches within the attacking third to touches within the field is about 6.9-to-1; about 14.5% of the previous are additionally the latter. Whereas it is clearly nice to have the ball in your opponent’s facet of the sector, it solely means a lot in case you by no means do something harmful with it. Of the People’ 103 touches within the attacking third, solely 9 have been within the field (8.8%). Solely two of these got here from beginning center-forward Josh Sargent, and none after the twenty eighth minute.
The US tried solely three pictures whereas doing all of this dominating — one was a header from Sargent that he could not convert from a tricky angle, one was a why-the-hell-not bomb from fullback Sergino Dest (30 meters out with an xG of 0.02) and one, in fact, was Timothy Weah‘s beautiful Thirty sixth-minute purpose off of a stunning feed from Christian Pulisic.
THE @USMNT TAKES THE LEAD
TIM WEAH PUTS USA ON TOP pic.twitter.com/vinlFUxWGZ
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 21, 2022
They scored! It was higher than nothing! However after Weah’s purpose, the US would not try one other shot for 39 minutes.
Aimless possession just isn’t a brand new downside for the US. In 14 World Cup qualification matches, they tried 12 or fewer pictures in six of them, and so they mixed 12 or fewer pictures with over 60% possession 3 times. Of their seven losses and attracts, they averaged 10.7 pictures from 57% possession. Oh, and of their two September friendlies, in opposition to World Cup groups Japan and Saudi Arabia, they managed simply 11 pictures mixed (two on purpose) with at the least 55% possession in each matches.
It was in all probability an excessive amount of to ask that this weak spot all of the sudden get magically fastened with none main apply time or alterations to the participant pool. However for in addition to the US performed within the first half — and holy smokes, was the midfield significantly dominant — it does not actually imply a lot if you don’t get something out of it.
Kasey Keller says that with so many gamers missing sport motion in latest months, health might be a problem for the US for the remainder of the World Cup.
Berhalter obtained outmaneuvered
Typically the very best techniques do not must be essentially the most inventive ones. With Wales shocked and annoyed by the way in which the US was selecting to press, supervisor Rob Web page went with a moderately old-school concept: sub in an enormous man up entrance so you may play the ball over the press.
AFC’s Bournemouth 6-foot-5 striker Kieffer Moore match the invoice. The 30-year outdated, who has spent a lot of his profession within the English decrease ranges however has scored 4 instances in 15 Premier League matches this season, gave Welsh defenders and midfielders an enormous goal to whom they may both lob an extended ball or ship a ball in open areas. He pulled the American backline everywhere and all of the sudden, Wales was possessing the ball much more within the attacking facet of the pitch.
After largely receiving passes early within the second half, Moore began doing a little creating as nicely. His flicking header off of a nook almost tied the match within the sixty fifth minute, and he accomplished 4 of Wales’ 17 progressive passes within the second half as nicely.
By the fifty fifth minute or so, the sector had tilted nicely in Wales’ route. Even when the US obtained the ball, their gamers have been positioned so deeply that makes an attempt at counter-attacks have been typically solo affairs that ended earlier than they started. One substitution had fully modified the complexion of the match.
In the meantime, although the US got here into the World Cup nervous concerning the health ranges of a lot of key gamers getting back from harm — and each Weston McKennie and Pulisic have been seen limping at instances — Berhalter did not make his first substitution till the 66th minute (Brenden Aaronson for McKennie.) He did not make one other sub till the 74th minute, and he did not use his fifth and ultimate sub till the sport’s ultimate levels; Jordan Morris was on the pitch lengthy sufficient to try a single cross. However hey, congratulations to him: he is performed in a World Cup now. Gio Reyna and Jesus Ferreira, in the meantime, haven’t.
From a possession standpoint, Wales did not dominate the second half to the identical diploma that the US managed the primary.
Touches within the attacking third, second half: USA 79, Wales 76
Touches within the field, second half: Wales 16, USA 12
Nonetheless, whilst new attackers entered the match, the US tried solely three pictures price 0.13 xG. Wales tried 5 price 1.38. Take out Gareth Bale’s penalty — his solely shot try of the match and certainly one of solely 35 touches — and Wales nonetheless tried 4 pictures price 0.59 xG.
One crew really turned its harmful possessions into alternatives, and it wasn’t the US.
Different key stats from USA-Wales
#USMNT 1, WALES 1
A story of two halves, aimless possession, unhealthy corners, unsuccessful crosses (and corners), a transition sport that dried up (after a beautiful purpose), a killer substitute and a crew with an empty tank that did not use its subs sufficient. pic.twitter.com/ZkNDDomimU
— Invoice Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) November 22, 2022
The US tried 30 crosses to Wales’ 14, however Wales really accomplished extra of theirs — 5 of 14 (36%) vs. 4 of 30 (13%.)
In what I name transition possessions — possessions that begin outdoors of the attacking third and final 20 or fewer seconds — the US scored its lone purpose and created 0.41 xG. Wales created simply 0.09 xG with no targets. Sadly, the nicely largely dried up at half-time: Of the US’s 15 transition possessions that ended within the attacking third, 11 got here within the first half. (So did the purpose, clearly.)
Whereas Wales created 4 shot makes an attempt price a mixed 0.65 xG from set items, the US created only one price 0.07. 5 Pulisic corners created little or no hazard. This was one other unlucky continuation: In World Cup qualifying, they averaged simply 2.3 pictures per match from set items and scored simply 3 times, all in the identical match (February’s 3-0 win over Honduras.)
England and Iran performed a match neither of its managers prefers
Dominate the ball, get your purpose, then park the bus. It was the English method — the Gareth Southgate method, specifically — throughout their run to the ultimate of Euro 2020. When tied, they averaged 54% possession, 6.8 passes per possession and 0.13 pictures per possession; when forward: 45% possession, 5.6 passes per possession, 0.06 pictures per possession.
Towards Iran on Monday, nevertheless, they went up later within the first half and simply saved proper on dominating. For the 35 minutes or in order that this sport was tied, it was one-way site visitors: 82% possession for England and 0.26 pictures per possession to Iran’s 0.00. Iran’s beginning goalkeeper, Alireza Beiranvand, needed to go away resulting from a nasty-looking harm after 20 minutes, however Iran was nonetheless largely limiting attractiveness, as is their customized — opponents averaged solely 0.08 pictures per possession and scored simply 5 targets in 14 matches. However when Jude Bellingham scored on a stupendous header on the 34:10 mark, the floodgates opened.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 21, 2022
England was up 3-0 by half-time, and in opposition to a crew that’s significantly depending on sport state, this one was lengthy over.
To Iran’s credit score, they opened issues up late within the match and regarded fairly harmful doing so. Porto striker Mehdi Taremi tried three high-quality pictures (together with a penalty) and scored twice after the sixty fourth minute, and Bayer Leverkusen‘s Sardar Azmoun knocked a breakaway shot off the crossbar within the eighth minute of stoppage time. England substitutes Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish matched Taremi’s late targets when the match was nicely past doubt, however the openness of the second half was one thing we do not are likely to see from both a Southgate crew or a Carlos Queiroz crew. (The previous Actual Madrid supervisor started his second stint with Iran in September.)
All instructed, the groups mixed for 21 pictures price 3.86 xG; they put 10 of these pictures on track and eight of these within the web. It was an otherworldly run of ending for England — unsustainably so, actually. Based mostly on the xG figures for his or her shot makes an attempt, there was solely a 0.4% likelihood they might rating six targets from these pictures. Nonetheless, they dominated the match earlier than issues opened up, they have been ridiculously crisp in assault, and the scoring margin allowed Southgate to get some key gamers — Harry Maguire (subbed off after 70 minutes), Bukayo Saka (71), Mason Mount (71), Raheem Sterling (71) and Harry Kane (76) — a little bit of early-tournament relaxation.
England performs a unique sport than Wales
ENGLAND 6, IRAN 2
The ending was unsustainably good, Azmoun made a HUGE distinction in Iran’s assault, and sport state issues a TON to Iran. A second match may end up totally different…
…buuuuut England’s actually good and can slowly suffocate you in case you allow them to. pic.twitter.com/lKb6MzfABm
— Invoice Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) November 22, 2022
The excellent news, because it have been, concerning the US enjoying England subsequent is that the People’ issues with packed-in defenses does not actually apply. Whereas Southgate actually reserves the appropriate to park the bus at instances, they’re glorious at cornering outmanned opponents into tight areas.
Maybe essentially the most unimaginable statistics from England’s win on Monday had nothing to do with pictures or targets: England tried 797 passes and 753 carries. Prior to now 2½ seasons within the Premier League, just one crew has managed each 750 passes and 750 carries in the identical match: Pep Guardiola’s Manchester Metropolis, in fact, in a 4-3 win over Newcastle late in 2020-21.
The ball dominance on Monday was staggering. John Stones — of Manchester Metropolis, naturally — tried 226 mixed passes (117) and carries (109), whereas Luke Shaw tried 203, Bellingham 175, Declan Rice 183, Kieran Trippier 162 and Maguire 136. They dribbled ahead till Iran contested the ball, then they discovered a secure passing choice. Rinse, repeat. The Three Lions became Guardiola’s Metropolis, and any hope the US has of pulling an upset begins with disruption. Whereas the members of the English protection are well-drilled in opposition to the press, speedy, high-motor People like Ferreira and Aaronson is perhaps wanted simply to interrupt their rhythm each time attainable. It may not work, however enjoying passively positively will not.
A stay up for Iran: sport state will imply all the things
If the US certainly loses to England on Friday, there are mainly three attainable methods the Group B desk will look heading into the third matchday.
If Wales beats Iran: England 6 factors, Wales 4, US 1, Iran 0
If Wales and Iran draw: England 6, Wales 2, US 1, Iran 1
If Iran beats Wales: England 6, Iran 3, Wales 1, US 1
Two of those three situations would require a US win over Iran (and doubtlessly an England win over Wales) to advance, whereas the center situation would require both a win or a draw with favorable purpose differentials elsewhere.
As a result of the US dropped the ball in opposition to Wales, then, they are going to virtually actually must beat Iran. And as I wrote final week, Iran looks like a extra proficient model of the irritating CONCACAF stereotype (packed-in defenses, nothing simple, minimal attacking) that gave the US suits throughout qualification. And in the event that they pulled something from the late levels of their loss to England, Iran is perhaps a bit extra assured in assault transferring ahead, too.
After all of the stress and drama of the turmoil again residence, Iran discovered their legs and performed themselves into the England match a bit late. In the event that they flip that into constructive momentum, they might be an awfully powerful out. They usually might be the final crew the US performs within the 2022 World Cup.