USA vs Wales Odds & Picks

USA vs. Wales Odds

The USA kick off their World Cup campaign against Wales in a huge match with implications on who will escape Group B.

Gregg Berhalter’s United States team is back in the World Cup after missing out on the competition in 2018. For the first time in US history, most of their players are playing overseas in Europe’s biggest leagues. The Stars and Stripes have 13 of their 26 players on the roster playing in one of Europe’s top five leagues and five players currently playing in the English Premier League.

The United States are also one of the youngest teams in the field, but proved over CONCACAF Qualifying that they are ready for the big stage.

This will be just the second World Cup appearance for Wales in the country’s history with the first one coming back in 1958. They have an older squad with a lot of big names that are getting up there in age like Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey. Wales made it to the World Cup after beating both Austria and Ukraine in the World Cup Qualification playoffs, but their underlying metrics suggest that this team is destined for an early exit.

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USA Facing Pre-Match Questions

The Stars and Stripes had a good CONCACAF Qualifying campaign, finishing third in the hexagonal. They had solid underlying metrics, but had a few questionable results away from home. The US averaged 1.70 expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes, while only allowing 0.72 xG per 90 minutes over their 14 World Cup Qualifying matches.

The biggest decision that Berhalter has to make for this opening match is who is going to start up top? Here is how the three options he has faired for their club teams this season.

Berhalter typically employs a 4-3-3 system with a different spin than the possession-based passing systems that you typically see with this formation at some of the biggest clubs in the world.

He wants his center backs to stay patient at the back and then quickly transition the ball up to the forwards between the lines to put pressure on the opposing back line. The United States also love to continue to pass the ball until the best possible chance opens up. They have one of the lowest average shot distances in the World Cup field, highlighting Berhalter’s philosophy of quality over quantity when it comes to chance creation.

If there is one weakness for the United States, it is transition defense, which has plagued them for a long time. It is critical for the center backs and midfielders not to make careless mistakes when in possession, but that usually only happens when teams press them high, which is why the United States struggled in both matches in qualifying against Canada and in the recent friendly against Japan.

The good news is Wales is not that type of team, so they likely won’t be able to exploit the United States on the counter.

Wales in For Difficult Midfield Battle

Wales were very lucky to get to the Round of 16 in the Euros and the same is true for World Cup Qualifying. They were in a group with Belgium and the Czech Republic, and they finished in second place by one point.

In four matches against Belgium and the Czech Republic they had a -1.27 xGD. Even in the Euros, Wales had one good performance against a fraudulent Turkey side, but in their other four matches against Switzerland, Italy and Denmark, they conceded a whopping 7.23 xG and only created 1.85 xG.

Even in the World Cup playoffs, the match against Austria was a dead-even game, but Wales got a couple of howlers from Bale. Then against Ukraine, they got out-created 1.93 to 0.63 on xG.

Wales 1-0 Ukraine (European WC Playoff)

Wales haven’t been at any of the last 15 men’s FIFA World Cup finals, but they’ll be at Qatar 2022. Their last World Cup appearance was back in 1958. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁿

They join England, Iran and the United States in Group B in the 2022 tournament. pic.twitter.com/qk0XhbAdTu

— Opta Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) June 5, 2022

This Welsh midfield is going to get run over against the United States. Right now they are currently rolling with Joe Allen and Ramsey, two players who are on the wrong side of 30, and an old Bale. Alongside him is Brennan Johnson, who has a 0.24 xG per 90 minute scoring rate for Nottingham Forest this year.

It’s 5-3-2 or a 4-4-2 deep low block for Wales when they are out of possession, and they don’t press, which means they allow a ton of shots.

Wales are also coming into this game in terrible form. I don’t put much stock in the Nations League, but Wales have lost four out of their last five coming into the World Cup.

USA vs. Wales Prediction

The United States’ midfield should be able to dominate this match, control possession and stop any type of Welsh counterattack. I also expect Wales to play very conservatively with their eyes on the second group stage match against Iran as their best possibility to get all three points.

For the US, the question is can they break down Wales’ low block? Given the attacking talent that the United States have on the wings, plus looking at the amount of xG that Wales have conceded against good competition, I say yes, and I believe it’ll translate to a victory.

I like the United States to grab all three points at +150.

The Pick: USA ML +150

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