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Lion Links: 11/21/22

The USMNT faces Wales today, Tyler Adams is named captain, Ecuador defeats Qatar, and more.

USA Press Conference - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Sarah Stier - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! It’s finally here. The United States Men’s National Team’s first match in the 2022 World Cup is at 2 p.m. today against Wales. I’m excited, nervous, and a bit upset that I have to watch it at work. Hopefully, you will be more successful in convincing your boss to allow you to either take the day off or leave early for the match. Let’s get to the links.

Getting Ready for the USMNT’s Match

Gregg Berhalter is out of time to have his club ready for the world’s biggest sporting event. It was a team that didn’t have an identity back in 2018, but is now made in Berhalter's image. What exactly will that look like today? Hopefully, the young Yanks can come out with intensity, score some goals, and play with freedom. Wales is a difficult opponent and the U.S. needs to get out to a fast start. The USMNT is catching one break as Wales’ midfielder Joe Allen will miss the first match due to a hamstring injury.

The USMNT Names Its Captain

Tyler Adams was named the captain of the USMNT for the World Cup. It’s the first time in history that a Black man will hold the position, and he will be the youngest captain at the competition.

One of his teammates, Tim Weah, is ready to fulfill his childhood dream of playing for the USMNT. The timing couldn’t be better, as Weah is hitting his stride following an injury that forced him to miss the September international window.

Ecuador Defeats Qatar to Open World Cup

It didn’t take long for Ecuador to dash Qatar’s hopes in the first match of the 2022 World Cup. Enner Valencia had a goal called back in the third minute thanks to an offside call. If not for that call he might have scored a hat trick thanks to a converted penalty kick in the 16th minute and a beautiful header in the 31st minute. To be fair, it was offside, but there was quite a bit of controversy regarding the call and how long it took for the explanation.

Qatar was not able to create many chances, and was ultimately unable to get on the scoreboard. Former Lion Sebas Mendez was a big part of Ecuador’s defense against Qatar. This was the first time the host nation lost its first match, and it wasn’t the start that Qatar wanted.

Issues Remain as World Cup Begins

The opening ceremonies in Qatar were impressive. A giant trophy, fire cannons, and camels made it a spectacle. It was a lot of flash to cover the many issues surrounding this World Cup. There have been some protests over the human rights violations, and the treatment of women and the LGBTQIA+ community, including the U.S. showcasing a rainbow crest on their training uniforms and team facilities.

Now, the Netherlands’ Virgil van Dijk is joining Harry Kane and Gareth Bale in wearing the OneLove captain’s armband in defiance of FIFA’s rule against it. It is possible that the act of defiance could result in a yellow card. Given that Qatar went back on the agreement to serve beer at the stadiums, I think there should not be any ill consequences for something like this.

Free Kicks
  • I was very surprised to find out that the U.S. didn’t have a personal chef until just recently. Giulio Caccamo is with the team in Qatar planning and preparing all the meals of the team.
  • No matter how excited we might be for the U.S. players, I don’t think it compares to this.
  • I firmly believe that if the USMNT is successful it will be in part thanks to Weston McKennie’s unbelievably fantastic hair. I didn’t think it could get better, but then I saw this. AMERICA!

Nothing left to say, but go USA!