A day four years in the making has finally arrived. For the first time since the 2014 World Cup, the U.S. men’s national team will play in the tournament. With a young, talented team, the USMNT’s game against Gareth Bale and Wales on Monday will set the tone for a challenging, but manageable, Group B.
Elsewhere in the group, England and Iran start things off at 8 a.m. ET. Senegal, without superstar Sadio Mane due to injury, faces off against the 2010 World Cup runner-up Netherlands.
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On the eve of the World Cup, the USMNT got a pep talk from none other than the POTUS himself.
U.S. President Joe Biden, from his desk in the Oval Office, was connected to a phone held by USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter in a room filled with the entire team.
“I know you’re the underdog, but I tell you what man, you got some of the best players in the world on your team,” Biden said in a video posted by the team on Twitter.
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Following FIFA’s threat of yellow cards for any players wearing the “OneLove” armbands during the World Cup, the federations of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland have asked their captains not to wear them. The Netherlands, England and Wales open play Monday.
“We can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games,” the federations said in a joint statement Monday.
“We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.”
FIFA said Monday that all captains are now allowed to wear its “No Discrimination” armbands. The armbands for that campaign, which was not supposed to begin until the quarterfinals, are blue, with the red outline of a heart around a soccer ball and the words “Football Unites the World.”
MORE:World Cup teams ask captains not to wear ‘OneLove’ armbands after dispute with FIFA
Is it coming home?
England has a history of going into tournaments confident and leaving with its tail between its legs, though, recent success has turned the tides in its favor. The Three Lions came in fourth in the 2018 World Cup and second in the 2020 European Championship. But the men are still searching for their first major trophy since winning the World Cup in 1966.
Captain Harry Kane is two goals away from surpassing Wayne Rooney’s all-time goalscoring record. Meanwhile, Iran has a quality forward of its own in Mehdi Taremi. The striker, 30, plays in Portugal and has 13 goals in 18 games.
Time: Monday, Nov. 21 at 8 a.m. ET
Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium in Ar-Rayyan, Qatar
How to watch: FOX and Telemundo or stream on fuboTV and Peacock