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Wales 0-0 USA: Drab goalless draw in friendly at Liberty Stadium

Chris Gunter
Men’s cap record holder Chris Gunter was captaining Wales on his 98th appearance

A shadow Wales side were held to a goalless draw by the United States in an uninspiring friendly in Swansea.

With assistant coach Robert Page in charge in the absence of manager Ryan Giggs, the much-changed hosts were overrun by their energetic young opponents in the first half.

They improved after the break, with debutant Brennan Johnson close to scoring with his first touch after coming on as a substitute.

Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward made two fine saves to deny Sebastian Lletget and Ulysses Llanez but, in truth, neither side offered enough to warrant victory.

This encounter will have done little for the reputation of international friendlies, with criticism of such matches this season mounting after a surge in injuries to players thought to have been caused by fixture congestion.

At times, it felt like a game both sides could have done without.

For the United States, it was at least a useful workout as they played their first match since February.

But for Wales, their priorities were clearly elsewhere as they prepared for two Nations League matches over the next week.

This fixture was their first under former Wales centre-back Page and fellow assistant coach Albert Stuivenberg.

Giggs had mutually agreed with the Football Association of Wales that he would not be involved in this triple-header. He has denied an allegation of assault made against him.

Page had explained beforehand that he would be in charge – even though he said Giggs was “a call away” – and the ex-Wales Under-21s boss named a team which showed nine changes from last month’s win in Bulgaria.

The aim was to give some fringe and younger players an opportunity, while preserving some first-team regulars for the Nations League matches to come. Gareth Bale, for example, was left out of the matchday squad.

None of those brought in had much of a chance to further their claims in a drab first half.

Wales were outplayed in midfield by an exuberant United States, with Juventus’ Weston McKennie lifting the tempo with a dynamic display in the middle.

The visitors’ high press frequently put Page’s players under pressure, forcing them into mistakes which almost led to goals.

Barcelona’s Konrad de la Fuente was the beneficiary of one such error but the debutant – one of three in the US starting line-up – wastefully shot over the bar.

This is an exciting time for the United States as they usher in a new generation of bright young talents. The average age of this squad was only 21.71, with 10 uncapped players in the group of 24.

Even without Chelsea attacking midfielder Christian Pulisic, this was a squad rich with promise, featuring the likes of Barcelona right-back Sergino Dest and Borussia Dortmund’s 17-year-old forward Gio Reyna.

For all their attacking potential, however, the US lacked sparkle in the final third.

Lleget and Llanez both forced Ward into action, while US goalkeeper and captain Zack Steffen had to be alert to smother a shot by Johnson.

Despite those chances, there was an inevitability about the result. When referee Nicolas Walsh blew the final whistle at exactly 90 minutes – with no added time – there were some looks of bemusement from both sets of players, but no complaints.

Wales assistant coach Robert Page:

“With regards to keeping a clean sheet and confidence, we’ve kept that momentum going.

“It was always going to be a tough game. We had to defend in numbers, we had to be disciplined in our defensive performance.

“On the ball, there’s areas where we need to improve, absolutely. We addressed that at half-time and I thought we were slightly better in the second half.”

United States head coach Gregg Berhalter:

“I told the guys that I was proud of them in the locker room.

“Especially on the defensive side, our pressing was relentless all game and we really unbalanced Wales and stopped them settling into a rhythm.

“Offensively we can continue to improve, we didn’t threaten the backline enough today, but six guys made their debuts today and I’m really proud of the performance.”

Line-ups

Wales

  • 1Ward
  • 14Roberts
  • 5Lockyer
  • 18LawrenceSubstituted forRodonat 69′minutes
  • 2Gunter
  • 23LevittSubstituted forMorrellat 80′minutes
  • 19SmithSubstituted forSheehanat 45′minutes
  • 11MatondoSubstituted forJohnsonat 62′minutes
  • 10H Wilson
  • 9Lawrence
  • 13MooreSubstituted forJamesat 62′minutes

Substitutes

  • 3N Williams
  • 4Davies
  • 6Rodon
  • 7Brooks
  • 8Williams
  • 12King
  • 15Ampadu
  • 16Morrell
  • 17Norrington-Davies
  • 20James
  • 21Sheehan
  • 22Johnson

USA

  • 1Steffen
  • 2DestBooked at 81minsSubstituted forCannonat 87′minutes
  • 3MiazgaBooked at 56mins
  • 6Brooks
  • 5Robinson
  • 18MusahSubstituted forGioacchiniat 79′minutes
  • 4AdamsSubstituted forde Souza Cardosoat 71′minutesBooked at 80mins
  • 8McKennie
  • 7ReynaSubstituted forWeahat 79′minutes
  • 17LletgetSubstituted forOtasowieat 87′minutes
  • 11De la FuenteSubstituted forLlanez Jrat 71′minutes

Substitutes

  • 9Gioacchini
  • 12Ledezma
  • 13Ream
  • 14Otasowie
  • 15Richards
  • 16de Souza Cardoso
  • 19Soto
  • 20Cannon
  • 21Llanez Jr
  • 22Horvath
  • 23Weah
  • 24Odunze

Referee:
Nick Walsh

Match Stats

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Wales 0, USA 0.

  2. Second Half ends, Wales 0, USA 0.

  3. Foul by Reggie Cannon (USA).

  4. Harry Wilson (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Offside, Wales. Danny Ward tries a through ball, but Tom Lawrence is caught offside.

  6. Foul by Antonee Robinson (USA).

  7. Brennan Johnson (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  8. Substitution, USA. Reggie Cannon replaces Sergiño Dest.

  9. Substitution, USA. Owen Otasowie replaces Sebastian Lletget.

  10. Weston McKennie (USA) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  11. Foul by Harry Wilson (Wales).

  12. Foul by Sebastian Lletget (USA).

  13. Josh Sheehan (Wales) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  14. Nicholas Gioacchini (USA) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Foul by Daniel James (Wales).

  16. Foul by Sebastian Lletget (USA).

  17. Joe Morrell (Wales) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  18. Sergiño Dest (USA) is shown the yellow card.

  19. Foul by Timothy Weah (USA).

  20. Daniel James (Wales) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

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