Nearly nine months since it last played, the U.S. men's national team finally has a plan to return to the field. Coach Gregg Berhalter is expected to rely on players based at European clubs for a camp that will include a Nov. 12 friendly against Wales at Liberty Stadium in Swansea and, U.S. Soccer hopes, a second match during the Nov. 9-17 international window.
Australia was rumored to have been the second opponent, likely in London, but that fell through this week when Football Federation Australia canceled its European camp owing to coronavirus concerns.
The Wales-USA game will be played without fans in attendance and broadcast on FS1, UniMás and TUDN. It will be the second meeting all-time between the countries. The Americans won, 2-0, in a 2003 friendly in San Jose, Calif. They were supposed to play again in late March in Cardiff, but that game was canceled as the pandemic took root.
“First and foremost, we are looking forward to getting the group together after such a challenging year,” Berhalter said. “Wales is a quality opponent with high-level players, so it’s a good opportunity to test ourselves. We appreciate all the work by the Football Association of Wales and here at U.S. Soccer to provide this opportunity to compete.”
The USA’s most recent match was a 1-0 exhibition win over Costa Rica on Feb. 1. That game didn’t fall during a FIFA window however, meaning Berhalter’s team was made up almost entirely of MLS players. Next month’s game in Wales will mark the first time he’s had access to his European contingent since a couple Concacaf Nations League matches in November 2019.
Camp will commence Nov. 9 in Cardiff and, along with the friendly, will be conducted “under the comprehensive U.S. Soccer Return to Play Protocols and Guidelines and in line with the UEFA Return to Play Protocols, with stringent oversight by the Football Association of Wales.”
Players, coaches and staff will “operate inside a controlled environment” at a nearby hotel, and they’ll be tested multiple times before traveling, upon arrival and then at least every two days during camp. Full training won’t begin until all the arrival test results are confirmed, U.S. Soccer said.
Ranked 20th in the world by FIFA–two places ahead of the USA–Wales is managed by Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs. The Dragons have already qualified for next summer’s postponed European Championship and currently lead their UEFA Nations League B group with a 3-0-1 record.