Christian Pulisic had waited 1,868 days, and Tim Weah almost as long, to hear the roar. They had endured the darkest five years in American soccer history for nights like Monday, for an opportunity to bring a nation to its feet, for a chance to lift a lifetime of work onto a World Cup stage. They had suffered, and slapped away doubts, and persevered to feel an explosion. At 10:36 p.m. here at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, they scored the goal that instigated it — and for an hour, it appeared that they’d won the U.S. men’s national team its 2022 World Cup opener.
But on 82 minutes, Gareth Bale instigated a louder explosion. And the USMNT had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Wales.
They were superior, so far superior, for 45 minutes. Then they receded and tried to survive a Welsh storm. They survived it for 35 minutes. But with pressure growing, Walker Zimmerman fouled Bale in the penalty area. Bale converted from the spot. And what could have been a dazzling, uplifting night turned damp.
The draw is not disastrous. It leaves the U.S., still, as favorites to advance from Group B. But the point will be tinged with disappointment. And the pressure on Friday against England will be intense.
Still a few minutes of stoppage time left as Wales gets into the gamesmanship with multiple players on the ground.