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World Cup 2022: What To Expect From Monday's USA v. Wales Match

A crash course for the casual observer.

USA's forward Christian Pulisic (C) takes part in a training session at Al Gharafa Training Site in ...

The 2022 World Cup is officially off and running. The United States plays its first match today against Wales, and yes, it really does kick off at 2 p.m. Eastern time on a Monday when pretty much everyone is at work or at school. But the game is guaranteed to be a hot topic of conversation tomorrow, so here’s a crash course on what to expect and what’s next and how to watch the World Cup at pretty much any point in time.

How can I watch the US vs. Wales World Cup match, and can I watch it for free?

The US vs. Wales World Cup match will be available for free on Fox, starting at 2 p.m. Eastern. Tune in a few minutes ahead of time to catch the national anthems, which is one of the best parts of any international soccer match. For more viewing options, check out the Fatherly guide on How To Legally Watch The World Cup For Free.

Where can I watch the game if I missed it?

In the event you had to work or, realistically, couldn’t blow a vacation day to watch soccer, you can stream the game for free and on-demand at Tubi later. All World Cup matches will be available to stream on Tubi for free 30 minutes after the conclusion of each game.

Why don’t I know who any of the US players are, and why do they look like they’re straight out of high school?

With an average age of 25.2 years, the US squad is the second youngest in the entire World Cup field, behind only Ghana. Fourteen players are under 25 years old, and 23 of the 26 on the squad are under 30.

Had the US qualified for the 2018 World Cup, some players would have had more name recognition. But since the United States hasn’t participated in the tournament for over eight years — and because 17 players play for clubs in Europe — the squad is largely unfamiliar to the casual observer.

But with such a young team, there should be a significant carryover from this squad for the 2026 World Cup, so feel free to get attached to these guys.

Why didn’t the US play in the last World Cup?

Teams must qualify for each World Cup by competing against other countries from their continental federation. Unfortunately, the US massively underachieved during the qualification process for the 2018 World Cup and was not one of the teams to make the field.

Will the United States beat Wales?

According to the official FIFA rankings, the United States and Wales are both solid teams and evenly matched. The US is ranked 14th in the world, while Wales slots a few spots below at 19th overall. Wales hasn’t qualified for a World Cup since 1958, but they’ve played well in the last two European Championships.

According to betting markets, the US is a slight favorite to win though you can get similar odds for a loss or a draw.

Perhaps the biggest wildcard will be the performance of enigmatic and aging Welsh forward Gareth Bale. The 33 year old is widely regarded as one of the greatest wingers of his generation and one of the greatest Welsh players of all time, and this is his last chance to play on a grand stage.

What happens if the United States loses to Wales?

Well, that depends. For the first stage of the World Cup, the United States is in a four-team group with Wales, England, and Iran. Each team plays the other three once, and then the top two teams from the group will enter the knockout stage, where winners advance through a traditional playoff bracket.

Since this is the first match of the group stage, a lot can still happen. Losing by three or more goals would make it incredibly difficult for the US to advance to the knockout stage. A draw would be acceptable, but leave a lot in the air. And a win would ease the pressure on the US and provide some wiggle room for the next two matches.

When does the US play next?

The US will play England on Friday at 2 p.m. Eastern. From the moment the World Cup schedule was announced, this was highlighted as a must-watch game, and the buildup is guaranteed to be massive, as controversy over the World Cup continues to roil the soccer world.