An ancient Chinese philosopher once said that there is no greater danger than underestimating your opponent. With the United States facing Wales in the World Cup on Monday, the USMNT is ready and prepared. However, its national team television broadcaster FOX Sports is treating the USA win against Wales as a given.
Yes, many of us are excited about watching the United States play England on Black Friday. However, it’s disrespectful for FOX Sports to treat the USA-Wales game as an automatic win before a ball has even been kicked.
FOX already focusing on USA-England game
So, what has FOX Sports done to give Wales the cold shoulder?
First, in an appearance during a NFL broadcast last Sunday on FOX, FOX pundits completely ignored the USA-Wales game. Instead, they told viewers to “mark the calendars” for the November 25th game between USA and England. There wasn’t even a mention of USA’s game against Wales on November 21st (see clip below).
Second, FOX Sports’ executive producer who is responsible for its World Cup coverage on television is already talking about how the USA-England game could rank in the top five most-watched soccer games ever in the US.
“If the United States wins its first group game, which they should, it’s against Wales,” said FOX Sports’ David Neal.
The way Neal dismisses Wales is disrespectful. After all, Wales are ranked number 19 in the world, only three spots behind the US who are ranked number 16.
Third, FOX Sports’ lead soccer analyst Stu Holden (sorry Alexi Lalas) believes Wales are the weakest team in Group B.
“[Wales is] not a team that I watched and was like ‘Oh man, this is going to be a hard game for the US,’” says Holden. “It’s not a knockout, 100% win. But, it’s a game that I think we should go in and expect to win. I think Wales are still the weakest team in the group when you think about it.”
USMNT not treating Wales win as a “gimme”
Thankfully, calmer heads prevail. In particular, USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter knows the task that confronts him.
Asked about Wales this week during a press conference, Berhalter said:
“I think that, at least to American media, Wales is underrated. When I look at their squad, it’s basically a Premier League squad.”
At least the most important person to the United States Men’s National Team gets it even if FOX doesn’t.
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