Team USA’s 1-1 draw against Wales in its World Cup opener had plenty of positives, but it’s hard to feel anything but disappointed with the final result. The Yanks were dominant in the first half and looked likely to run away with the match, but Wales wrestled control of the game down the stretch and deserved to draw level.
Coming into the tournament, we knew the USMNT was a high-ceiling, low-floor team, and we saw that on display in the curtain-raiser.
Though the oddsmakers still make it a virtual coin flip between the Welsh and Americans to advance from Group B, it’s the Yanks who have a much tougher assignment in their second match. While Wales is a +115 favorite to beat Iran on Friday, the USMNT is a +525 underdog against England, which looked sensational in a 6-2 drubbing of Iran in its opener.
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There are a couple things bettors should consider here. For one, the U.S. will know what Wales did against Iran before their match with England. That could impact how aggressive the USMNT is against the Three Lions. If Wales wins against the Lions of Persia, it could set up a situation in which goal differential determines who advances out of Group B, so the Yanks may adopt a more conservative approach against England in order to keep their ledger respectable.
The other thing to keep in mind is that betting markets are very reactionary. England is off to a perfect start in this tournament, while the last thing we saw out of the USMNT was a team struggling to hold on for a point against Wales. Those two results look like they’re causing the odds on the Stars and Stripes to drift into a very tempting range.
There are some factors that should help the Americans in this matchup. For one, they have a very strong midfield that can, at the very least, contend with the English partnership of Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham.
The Yanks also have two fullbacks, Antonee Robinson and Sergino Dest, who can cause problems for their English counterparts, Luke Shaw and Kieran Trippier.
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Then there’s the question about England’s centerbacks. Harry Maguire got the start against Iran, but he came into this competition out of form, is banged up and could be vulnerable against the attacking talent of Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah, Branon Aaronson and Gio Reyna, all of whom can dribble at defenders and take them on.
The Americans have vulnerabilities of their own, of course, and the English are clearly the better side, but there is enough talent in this American squad, one that has a ton of pace and athleticism, to give the Three Lions some pause.
We’ve seen Gareth Southgate’s England adopt a more conservative style when it goes up against teams that can threaten by going the other way, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see a more pragmatic approach from the Three Lions against a flawed-but-dangerous American side.
That philosophy should make it easier for the Yanks to hang around against a more talented team like England and would give them a decent chance of turning this contest into a coin flip. And that’s all you’re looking for out of an underdog at this price.
Bet USA on the moneyline at +525.