US returns to World Cup against Wales after 8-year wait

By RONALD BLUM

DOHA, Qatar — Gio Reyna, Joe Scally and Yusuf Musah were 11 years old the last time the United States took the field in a World Cup match. On the 3,066th day after that loss in Brazil, the Americans return to soccer’s showcase with a new-look team dreaming lofty goals and hoping for actual ones.

Filled with novelty, nerves and naivety, these young Americans take the field against Wales on Monday night in a match a growing fanbase back home has been pining for since 2014.

“Three years, four years of just working up to this moment, I think all the guys are ready to go,” midfielder Weston McKennie said.

President Joe Biden called players to offer encouragement ahead of the opener.

A Friday match against England follows and group play ends Nov. 29 against Iran, which famously eliminated the U.S. from the 1998 World Cup in France.

Only DeAndre Yedlin, a 29-year-old defender, remains from the American team eliminated by Belgium in the second round eight years ago. Yedlin, Christian Pulisic, Kellyn Acosta and Tim Ream are among just four holdovers from the group that flopped to the field in anguish after the crushing loss at Trinidad in CONCACAF qualifying in October 2017 that ended the streak of U.S. World Cup appearances at seven.

McKennie debuted a month later in a 1-1 friendly draw at Portugal along with Cameron Carter-Vickers and Tyler Adams, who was appointed captain Sunday at age 23.

A total of 118 players were tried over 68 matches in a World Cup cycle interrupted by a pandemic, including 91 after Gregg Berhalter was hired as coach in December 2018. He gave debuts to 56 players and took the second-youngest roster to the tournament at an average age of just over 25 years, older than only Ghana.

Some are already looking ahead four …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News

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