10/26/23 - The USA kicked off the 2023 WMF World Cup with a rematch of their 2017 tournament opener against Spain. While the US improved on that 5-3 loss with a 2-2 tie, the team entered this tournament with raised expectations.
Spain took an early 1-0 lead just five minutes into the game as the US got off to a shaky start.
Both teams had to battle the elements as Ras Al Khaimah had endured overnight storms and flooding. Rain showers persisted through the 5:15pm kickoff.
The US caught a break, though, when David Ortiz's low shot trickled into the back post in the 12th minute to tie the game.
The Americans got the better of play for the rest of the first half, but could not score.
At halftime, US goalkeeper Boris Pardo said that restarts would determine the game's outcome and he proved to be prescient. Spain took their second lead of the night on a restart goal that pinged in off the back-post. The US answered back quickly after a flurry of corner kicks resulted in Chad Vandegriffe crashing the net for the equalizer.
In addition to sliding around the slick field, the US had a rough night with the referees. Zach Reget, for instance, was called for three offensive fouls while posting up with his back to his defender.
Several minutes after Reget received a yellow card, the game was stopped for over five minutes because his yellow card was attributed to #11 on the official scoresheet instead of Reget's #8. The US does not have a #11 on its roster. Despite this lengthy delay and another two minute delay because a player was wearing jewelry, only three minutes of extra time were added to the second half.
"They looked like they were confused," Pardo said, generously describing the officiating.
The weather conditions, which, as Pardo pointed out, both teams had to deal with, and the officiating made the tie that much more frustrating.
But, Spain is one of the top teams in the tournament and both teams have to play Romania and Sudan to see which two Group D teams will advance.
The US will need to tighten things up in their next match. Spain's first goal was the result of a lapse in man-marking, and the US generated few offensive chances in the game. Their next outing is Saturday at 9:00pm local time against Sudan, who were a late replacement for Bahrain. Sudan lost their opener today 10-1 to Romania.