The U.S. Reaction To Getting Punched In The Mouth Will Determine Whether Their World Cup Is A Success

It was there for the men's national team of the United States. Throughout the first half, it was there. Early in the second half, it was there. With a half hour left, it was also there. With 15 minutes remaining, it was still there. It was all there.
The U.S. was quite successful with their plans against Wales. All was beautifully completed from breaking down the Welsh block to containing Gareth Bale and the Wales attack. The scenario was what they'd long for: three points here, pass the England game, and a strong showing against Iran would advance you to the knockout round.
That’s all great there until it suddenly disappears!
For the record, USA 1, Wales 1 is not a catastrophe. Not a tragedy. As Tim Weah said: "In a World Cup, the most important thing is that we didn't lose."
But what occurred to the U.S. on Monday night reminded me of that famous quote by Mike Tyson, who was asked if he was concerned about what Evander Holyfield might have in store for him in their approaching boxing contest.
"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth," Tyson stated.
So consider the U.S. punched.


Their plans and the most upbeat American supporters' totally suffered on Monday. In the absence of a shock victory over England, the United States now faces the prospect of a must-win match against Iran to conclude pool play. It will almost certainly need four points to progress out of Group B.
Is that any chance for redemption? Absolutely! The U.S. has great competence to play the way they did in the first half against the Welsh. They displayed poise and presence for almost an hour despite their overall lack of experience. On the left side, Christian Pulisic and Antonee Robinson were on fire. Tyler Adams returned the favor. On the right side, Weah and Sergino Dest jumped and slid. Josh Sargent's swift header struck the post and went out.
The U.S. goal was also perfect. The action was initiated by Walker Zimmerman's pass, and Pulisic's run—one of the few U.S. runs into the middle of the field—tore Wales apart. Weah's finish was a foregone conclusion thanks to his inch-perfect pass to him, and the Lille player celebrated by turning to his left and running off on a triumphant slide. The U.S. seemed in control. Wales was on the list.
But then came the fall. At halftime, Gregg Berhalter pleaded with the U.S. to keep going. To continue pressing. To be ready for the inevitable flailing that Wales was bound to hurl their way.

Source: Maja Hitij - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

"We knew there was going to be a moment where Wales would change their tactics and throw caution to the wind," Berhalter shared. "We knew that was going to be part of it."
This one did, for sure. Matt Turner correctly dove to his left, but Bale's penalty was a comet since he had so little to do in the first half that online memes showed him sipping tea in his penalty area. Turner slapped his hands on the ground in disgust as the ball rippled the net, and Pulisic and Weah, the supposed heroes, stared blankly back at the Welsh supporters dancing behind the goal as they approached the halfway line.
It's a young U.S. team. With the exception of DeAndre Yedlin, every player on the roster has already participated in one World Cup match. Most of our team has never experienced anything even vaguely similar to this.
Adams, the team's captain, stated earlier this week that "pressure is a privilege." The pressure increases much higher on Monday. The American squad had lofty goals of surprising everyone with their array of prodigious talents. Everything went according to plan as they played the first half against Wales.
They were then punched in the mouth. What they do in response is now the only thing that matters.
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