Starting XI (4-3-3): Zack Steffen (c); Antonee Robinson, John Brooks, Matt Miazga, Sergiño Dest; Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah; Konrad de la Fuente, Gio Reyna, Sebastian Lletget
Subs: Johnny Cardoso for Tyler Adams (71’), Ulysses Llanez for Konrad de la Fuente (71’), Tim Weah for Gio Reyna (79’), Nicholas Gioacchini for Yunus Musah (79’), Owen Otasowie for Sebastian Lletget (87’), Reggie Cannon for Sergiño Dest (87’)
The United States Men’s National Team stepped back onto the field after a 285-day absence, playing host Wales to a 0-0 draw. The team was one full of youth with some experience, and the USMNT presented an energy fans have not seen in ages. That energy began from the moment the team stepped out of the locker room, with players and coaches wearing warmup jackets with the words “Be The Change” on the front. Players also had select social justice phrases on the back of their jackets, including “Black Lives Matter,” “Be Anti-Racist,” and “Unity.”
The starting XI featured the debuts of Gio Reyna, Yunus Musah, and Konrad de la Fuente. The team employed a 4-3-3 lineup, with Sebastian Lletget operating as the false 9 for most of his time in the game.
The USMNT kept that energy going in the early moments, controlling possession and going right at defenders on the dribble. When Wales had the ball, pressure from the 3 forwards caused them to have fits playing out of the back. They were always pushing forward, trying to create opportunities in the box, but just couldn’t get many shots on frame in the first half.
Even when Wales was pushing the ball on the attack, the defense from the United States never relented. In the 10th minute, Weston McKennie tracked all the back to fly in and stop a Welsh attack dead on its heels with an incredible effort.
The best chance for the USMNT in the first half came on an errant back pass from Wales. Konrad collected the high arcing ball on the edge of the 6-yard box, but his chance skied over the bar. In the 45th minute, Weston McKennie was able to put a ball into the box from the right flank, but a Sebastian Lletget back heel came up short just before the referee blew the whistle for halftime.
The second half began with no substitutes for the USMNT, but the energy continued. Several of the players, including Gio Reyna and Konrad de la Fuente, went right at the Welsh defense with FIFA21 moves that surely excited fans. In the 63rd minute, it was Zack Steffen’s turn to be a brick wall, coming up with a big stop on a Welsh attack.
McKennie had his own chance in the 67th minute, but a pass back in the box didn’t find an American player. Ulysses Llanez, who entered in the 71st minute for Konrad, made probably the final good chance of the night when he took a shot from 25 yards that needed to be parried away for a goal kick by Welsh goalkeeper Danny Ward.
The USMNT had 3 other players make their debut in the match, as Johnny Cardoso, Nicholas Gioacchini, and Owen Otasowie entered the match in the second half. The team ended the match with 61% possession, and forcing 5 corner kicks to Wales’ 3. They were also pretty sound defensively, with only 2 shots requiring saves from Zack Steffen. They completed 87% of their passes, with Matt Miazga, Johnny Cardoso, and Sergiño Dest receiving yellow cards.
The USMNT may not have scored in this match, but they provided fans with some exciting moments. The youth movement was on full display in Swansea, and America wants to see more of it.