Bale salvages draw for Wales against U.S. in World Cup
LONDON — Former Wales coach Graham Hill used to tell his players that the best way to be successful on the football pitch is to look for someone else to get the ball.
His words might have been applied to the United States’ quest to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals.
Instead of taking the United States’ chances against a team that is not known for its defensive strength, Welsh manager John Toshack is relying on his offense and his team’s speed and skill to make up for the holes in their defense.
It is a strategy that has helped the United States earn a 1-0 win over Switzerland in Group A and will see them advance to the round of 16 of the tournament.
For the fifth time in their World Cup history, Wales will face the United States in a World Cup knockout stage. As Hill told Toshack’s players before they played in Dublin, “There’s a saying here, ‘We play them as individuals, we don’t play them as a team.’ And we’ve done that in all of our games so far.”
With the United States now assured of winning Group A, Toshack has set his team up to counter the strength of Wales’ defensive play.
“We’re going to try to exploit those holes in that side,” he told reporters. “It’s been a massive strength of their game so far, but this group is going to be very different.”
Wales have not played in a World Cup knockout stage since 2010 when they lost to Denmark in the quarterfinals. They lost that game despite scoring what they called a “world-class goal” in the second half.
“The first three games of the tournament have gone to United States and I thought we could win them all, but we’ve had to adjust,” Toshack said.
The United States are the only team in the tournament that played in a knockout round last time, in 2010. They have never reached the round of 16 before.
“So many teams are getting to the World Cup final and losing out for the last time,” said United States coach Jill Ellis. “So I just want to go in, really want to go in with a little bit of a smile on my face.”
Toshack believes the United States has the attacking power in the team to