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Berhalter praises “underrated” Wales ahead of World Cup opener


DOHA, Qatar — When the U.S. men’s national team’s World Cup draw was determined back in April, the matchup against England was, understandably, the glaring headline that took most of the attention.

What remained a bit of a mystery was the USMNT’s opening match, which wasn’t set yet when the April draw took place. Wales ultimately won out in the World Cup playoffs to secure that place, ahead of Ukraine and Scotland, and as we pull to within less than a week away from the USMNT’s World Cup opener on Monday, the Americans find themselves facing an opponent they aren’t about to overlook.

“I think that at least to the American media, I think Wales is underrated,” Berhalter told reporters on Monday in Qatar. “When I look at their squad, it’s basically a Premier League squad. You have Daniel James, who scored the other night against Man United. High-quality player. You have Harry Wilson, high-quality player. Kieffer Moore, Neco Williams, Brennan Johnson, Gareth Bale, Ben Davies.

“To me, it’s a really good squad, a formidable squad,” he added. “They’ve been in international competition before, they know what it’s like. And it’s going to be a very difficult game, as when they play England, it will be a difficult game. So I think they’re going to be a highly competitive team, and we know that the starting point next Monday night. We’re in for a battle for sure.”

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

The USMNT had all of its players together for training for the first time on Tuesday, as the last arrivals integrated into camp. That group included Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson, who were both fresh off 90-minute performances for Fulham in a 2-1 loss to Manchester United on Sunday.

Tim Weah was also a late arrival, having played 90 minutes for Lille in Sunday’s 1-0 win vs. Angers.

“We had a full training session today. I did the first part because obviously I played, so I had to do (re-generation), and stuff like that,” Weah said on Tuesday. “So I think tomorrow we’ll have full training again, getting the legs going.”

Photo by John Todd/ISI Photos

The tight scheduling around the World Cup means Berhalter will have less than one full week with his full team, with Wednesday offering the first real chance for the entire team to train together fully.

“We hope that we can use this week effectively. We have four training sessions this week, three left and then we go two before the game against Wales, but we’re gonna work on on both of these things,” Berhalter said on Monday. “Today we got some good work in on the field. We’re starting to give them some detail about Wales and how we’re going to look to play against them. And then we’ll move forward and focus on England in Iran.

“For us, it is important that we do put focus into this Wales game, but we’ll also be working on on general concepts that we always work on.”


  1. Does this team look like a team to look down upon???
    Wayne Hennessey — (England, Nottingham Forest)
    Danny Ward — (England, Leicester City)
    Ben Davies — (England, Tottenham Hotspur)
    Connor Roberts — (England, Burnley)
    Ethan Ampadu I— (Italy, Spezia)
    Chris Mepham — (England, Bournemouth)
    Joe Rodon — (France, Rennes)
    Neco Williams — (England, Nottingham Forest)
    Aaron Ramsey (vice captain) — (France, Nice)
    Harry Wilson — (England, Fulham)
    Dylan Levitt — (Scotland, Dundee United (Manchester United))
    Gareth Bale (captain) — (United States, Los Angeles)
    Daniel James — (England, Fulham)
    Kieffer Moore — (England, Bournemouth)
    Brennan Johnson England Nottingham Forest

    “….the Americans find themselves facing an opponent they aren’t about to overlook”. Ddduuuhhh……we couldn’t get even goal by Saudi Arabia, so why would someone in their right mind overlook Wales?????

    “I think that at least to the American media, I think Wales is underrated,”
    Lol, says who?? Who is saying these things??? Hmmm….people who do not watch soccer maybe? Please let us know who is saying these things GB.

    This team:
    a) Tied with Belgium twice (nations league and World cup qualifiers)
    b) Tied the Czech Republic twice (World Cup Qualifiers, Friendly)
    c) Beat Austria (who tied Scotland, Beat Croatia and Tied France in Nations league)
    d) Beat Ukraine (
    e) More than held their own against the Netherlands (Nations League)

    So, no one who follows the game will underrate Wales. This is the world cup where as we all know anything can happen, but no one (especially after our performance against Japan and Saudi) is underrating Wales. Absolutely no one.

    • It’s coach speak Bizzy, relax. I’d bet even whomever is playing France was like “you guys don’t even understand how good this team is!”

      • i agree that most of the time coaches just issue platitudes designed not to reveal anything or motivate the other team. i think this is a very average response. i would hope he’s privately encouraging our team, and has ideas of how to deflate the very balloon he’s inflating. but i think the greats can engage in a little psychological warfare or disinformation without pouring too much motivational gas on the fire. d-day comes in a different spot than expected. ukraine’s push is north instead of south like the news suggested.

    • “but no one (especially after our performance against Japan and Saudi) is underrating Wales. Absolutely no one.”

      You might want to read the posts on SBI and other sites a little more closely.

      I doubt the USMNT players ever underrated Wales but an awful lot of USMNT fans do.

      All I know is, the USMNT must at least get a point off of Wales. Otherwise, getting out of the group will be very much harder.


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