A long-rumored friendly against the Welsh side will take place on Nov. 12 (start time, 2:45pm ET) in Swansea at the Liberty Stadium. In a release, U.S. Soccer also confirmed that they are trying to arrange a second friendly in Europe next month.
It will mark the first time Gregg Berhalter has been able to get any squad together since before the coronavirus pandemic arrived in March, as their only game in 2020 so far was the 1-0 win against Costa Rica on Feb. 1.
The USMNT head coach will be able to select players from his European-based and North American-based contingent as this falls in a FIFA window. That means we will be seeing the likes of Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna, Brenden Aaronson, Tyler Adams and Co. together at the same time.
“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.”
USMNT – Wales will be a perfect test
This will be a good test for a young USMNT side, as Ryan Giggs has kicked on a young Welsh side in recent months as they currently sit 20th in the FIFA rankings, two places ahead of the USMNT. Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey are the stars, but Wales have a lot of top young talent.
No fans will be allowed in the stadium for the match, as the USMNT and staff “will operate inside a controlled environment in a hotel near Cardiff. Everyone entering the controlled environment will undergo multiple COVID-19 tests in advance of traveling, and then will be tested upon arrival and at least every two days during camp. There will be no full team training until the results of all arrival tests are confirmed.”
In 2021 the USMNT will play against Honduras in the CONCACAF Nations League final four, plus compete in the 2021 Gold Cup and then kick off their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.
A big 2021 is coming up, so this test against Wales will be perfect to get the players and coaching staff together again after a long, long time apart.
Even a financial juggernaut like Manchester United have been hit hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the Premier League giants reported a $91 million loss in the period to June 30, 2020. The impact of COVID-19 will surely hit the next Manchester United financial report too, something their leaders have pointed to.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward stated that Man United have the biggest net spend on new players of any club in Europe over the last 18 months, and stated that their biggest target is for fans to return to stadiums as soon as possible.
“Our focus remains on protecting the health of our colleagues, fans and community while adapting to the significant economic ramifications of the pandemic,” Wooodward said. “Within that context, our top priority is to get fans back into the stadium safely and as soon as possible.”
Whatever way you slice it up, Manchester United have seen their finances hit hard.
Manchester United PLC (MANU) reported a loss of $45.3 million in its fiscal fourth quarter, while they said they have loss 28 cents per share. The club did post revenue of $101.1 million in the fiscal period and for the year revenue was reported as $641.8 million. That revenue was down 18.1 percent on the previous year, but that was largely due to Man United not being in the UEFA Champions League last season.
Overall, Manchester United shares have declined 33% since the beginning of the year, with the stock dropping 18 percent in the last 12 months.
Broadcast revenue dropped by 41.9 percent, while debt was up 132.9 percent to $620 million but the club said that was due to a reduction in cash reserves and debt levels remain the same.
Woodward also gave his backing to Solskjaer and the style of play on Manchester United.
“We have a clear strategy under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to build a successful, committed team, with a core of home-grown talent blended with high-quality recruits, that plays fast flowing, attacking football,” Woodward added. “While our commitment to investment remains, it must be balanced with recognition of the extraordinarily challenging environment facing us and all football clubs at this time… The bottom line is we are investing and will continue to invest to back the manager.”
Moving forward, Manchester United will continue to be at the forefront of shaping the way the soccer world, both domestically and in Europe, recovers from COVID-19 and how it can restructured.
“We are also committed to playing a constructive role in helping the wider football pyramid through this period of adversity, while exploring options for making the English game stronger and more sustainable in the long-term,” Woodward said. “This requires strategic vision and leadership from all stakeholders, and we look forward to helping drive forward that process in a timely manner.”
Woodward and United have been in talks about how to restructure power and funds in the Premier League, while also helping the lower leagues, as along with Liverpool they supported ‘Project Big Picture’ but that idea was thrown out by other clubs in a recent Premier League meeting.
Since then Manchester United and Liverpool have also been named as two clubs in talks over entering a FIFA-backed tournament which would generate huge sums of revenue and would essentially replace the Champions League as 18 top teams across Europe would be invited to participate in the tournament.
Liverpool and Manchester United are reportedly in talks over joining a new FIFA-backed tournament which could dramatically reshape the future of continental competition in Europe, which would be called the ‘European Premier League.’
A report from our partners at Sky News in the UK state that up to 18 teams from across Europe could sign up for the competition, with JP Morgan providing a $6 billion funding package for the tournament which would be known as the European Premier League competition.
It is also reported that Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur could possibly join the competition, which would clearly rival the UEFA Champions League.
After the report broke, FIFA president Gianni Infantino has distanced himself from backing the new competition.
Here are more details from our partners in the UK at Sky News, who say an announcement on this tournament could come as early as later this month and it could begin play in 2020:
Sky News has learnt that financiers are assembling a $6bn (£4.6bn) funding package to assist the creation of what could become known as the European Premier League. More than a dozen teams from England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain are in negotiations about becoming founder members of the competition.
As many as five English clubs could sign up to join it, with a provisional start date said to have been discussed as early as 2022. Sources said that FIFA, football’s world governing body, had been involved in developing the new format, which is expected to comprise up to 18 teams, and involve fixtures played during the regular European season.
The top-placed teams in the league would then play in a knockout format to conclude the tournament, with prize money for the winners expected to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds each year.
Following the backlash from ‘Project Big Picture’ last week as Premier League clubs voted unanimously against a plan to give English powerhouses a bigger say in how the league operates, those same clubs will no doubt be under scrutiny for trying to break away from UEFA and the Champions League.
This will be a huge talking point, as FIFA president Infantino will have plenty of explaining to do to his European counterparts.
The first round has already been staged, and the second round will not begin until May 31, 2021. It will run through Oct. 12, 2021.
The second round groups have been drawn but game dates have not been finalized.
Ten winners from the second round will be drawn into five home-and-away third round ties.
The winners of those five ties, staged Nov. 8-16, 2021, will head to Qatar.
Group A: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Niger, Djibouti
Group B: Tunisia, Zambia, Mauritania, Equatorial Guinea
Group C: Nigeria, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Liberia
Group D: Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Malawi
Group E: Mali, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda
Group F: Egypt, Gabon, Libya, Angola
Group G: Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia
Group H: Senegal, Rep of Congo, Namibia, Togo
Group I: Morocco, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan
Group J: Dem Rep of Congo, Benin, Madagascar, Tanzania
Asian (AFC) World Cup qualifying schedule
Currently in the second round of qualifying, the first-place teams from eight groups will make the third round along with four second-place teams (a fifth if hosts Qatar are among the aforementioned 12).
The third round has two groups of six teams. The first two teams in each group make the World Cup.
The two third-place teams play home-and-away on March 24 and 29, 2022, with the winner making the inter-confederation playoffs, scheduled for June 2022.
CONCACAF World Cup qualifying schedule
North and Central America’s first round of qualifying begins in March, with select winners joining the USMNT, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Jamaica in the second stage Octagonal.
That would start until after the 2021 Gold Cup (July 10 – Aug. 1).
Four of the eight teams will qualify for the World Cup, with a fifth team making an inter-confederation playoff, scheduled for June 2022.
CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying schedule
Each of 10 teams plays the other nine home-and-away. The top four teams make the World Cup and the fifth-place team goes to the inter-confederation playoffs, scheduled for June 2022.
Colombia v Uruguay — Nov. 12
Brazil v Venezuela — Nov. 12
Bolivia v Ecuador — Nov. 12
Argentina v Paraguay — Nov. 12
Chile v Peru — Nov. 12
Uruguay v Brazil — Nov. 17
Peru v Argentina — Nov. 17
Venezuela v Chile — Nov. 17
Paraguay v Bolivia — Nov. 17
Ecuador v Colombia — Nov. 17
Colombia v Brazil — March 25, 2021
Venezuela v Ecuador — March 25, 2021
Bolivia v Peru — March 25, 2021
Argentina v Uruguay — March 25, 2021
Chile v Paraguay — March 25, 2021
Uruguay v Bolivia — March 30, 2021
Peru v Venezuela — March 30, 2021
Brazil v Argentina — March 30, 2021
Paraguay v Colombia — March 30, 2021
Ecuador v Chile — March 30, 2021
Uruguay v Paraguay — June 3, 2021
Peru v Colombia — June 3, 2021
Brazil v Ecuador — June 3, 2021
Bolivia v Venezuela — June 3, 2021
Argentina v Chile — June 3, 2021
Colombia v Argentina — June 8, 2021
Venezuela v Uruguay — June 8, 2021
Paraguay v Brazil — June 8, 2021
Chile v Bolivia — June 8, 2021
Ecuador v Peru — June 8, 2021
Peru v Uruguay — Sept. 2, 2021
Venezuela v Argentina — Sept. 2, 2021
Bolivia v Colombia — Sept. 2, 2021
Chile v Brazil — Sept. 2, 2021
Ecuador v Paraguay — Sept. 2, 2021
Uruguay v Ecuador — Sept. 7, 2021
Colombia v Chile — Sept. 7, 2021
Brazil v Peru — Sept. 7, 2021
Paraguay v Venezuela — Sept. 7, 2021
Argentina v Bolivia — Sept. 7, 2021
Uruguay v Colombia — Oct. 7, 2021
Peru v Chile — Oct. 7, 2021
Venezuela v Brazil — Oct. 7, 2021
Paraguay v Argentina — Oct. 7, 2021
Ecuador v Bolivia — Oct. 7, 2021
Colombia v Ecuador — Oct. 12, 2021
Brazil v Uruguay — Oct. 12, 2021
Bolivia v Paraguay — Oct. 12, 2021
Argentina v Peru — Oct. 12, 2021
Chile v Venezuela — Oct. 12, 2021
Uruguay v Argentina — Nov. 11, 2021
Peru v Bolivia — Nov. 11, 2021
Brazil v Colombia — Nov. 11, 2021
Paraguay v Chile — Nov. 11, 2021
Ecuador v Venezuela — Nov. 11, 2021
Colombia v Paraguay — Nov. 16, 2021
Venezuela v Peru — Nov. 16, 2021
Bolivia v Uruguay — Nov. 16, 2021
Argentina v Brazil — Nov. 16, 2021
Chile v Ecuador — Nov. 16, 2021
Colombia v Peru — Jan. 27, 2022
Venezuela v Bolivia — Jan. 27, 2022
Paraguay v Uruguay — Jan. 27, 2022
Chile v Argentina — Jan. 27, 2022
Ecuador v Brazil — Jan. 27, 2022
Uruguay v Venezuela — Feb. 1, 2022
Peru v Ecuador — Feb. 1, 2022
Brazil v Paraguay — Feb. 1, 2022
Bolivia v Chile — Feb. 1, 2022
Argentina v Colombia — Feb. 1, 2022
Uruguay v Peru — March 24, 2022
Colombia v Bolivia — March 24, 2022
Brazil v Chile — March 24, 2022
Paraguay v Ecuador — March 24, 2022
Argentina v Venezuela — March 24, 2022
Peru v Paraguay — March 29, 2022
Venezuela v Colombia — March 29, 2022
Bolivia v Brazil — March 29, 2022
Chile v Uruguay — March 29, 2022
Ecuador v Argentina — March 29, 2022
Oceanic (OFC) World Cup qualifying schedule
The 11 nations of Oceania compete for one spot in the inter-confederations playoffs in March 2022.
Yet to be drawn, the first round sees the 11 teams split into two groups. The group members will play each other once with the top two teams from each group advancing to the semifinal round on Aug. 30 and Sept. 7, 2021.
The final will be a two-legged affair on Oct. 4 and 12. New Zealand has advanced to the last three inter-confederation playoffs. Australia is no longer in OFC but advanced to eight of the other nine playoffs, with Israel winning OFC in 1990 after competing in the confederation for political reasons.
Only four times has an OFC team gone to World Cup, Australia in 1974 and 2006 and New Zealand in 1982 and 2010.
UEFA World Cup qualifying schedule
Thirteen European nations get spots in the 2022 World Cup.
The draw for UEFA World Cup qualifying is set for December, with 10 groups of either five or six teams drawn. The winners of the home-and-away round-robin group stage, held March to November, 2021, go to the World Cup.
Ten runners-up will be joined by the best two Nations League group winners that did not finish in the top two of their qualifying group. The 12 teams will be separated into three groups of four, who will play semifinals and finals to determine the three remaining World Cup participants from UEFA.
The playoff semifinals will be held March 24-25, 2022, and the finals will be held March 28-29.
“I will play for a minimum wage, but the most important thing is to be here,” Robinho, the 100-times-capped Brazilian international, told the club’s website over the weekend. “I am well physically and mentally, obviously there is still a little bit of rhythm [missing], but over time we will gradually evolve.
“I have many fond memories here. The fans can be certain that I will give my best to help Santos FC on and off the pitch.
“Santos FC is going through a difficult financial time. So this is the time for those who can do something. I want to help the club that always gave me everything. Santos FC has already done a lot for me and this return is still little.”
This will be Robinho’s fourth stint at Santos, where he began his footballing journey as a 12-year-old in 1996. Nine years later, he was off to Madrid followed by Man City three years after that. Stint no. 2 at Santos came via loan in 2010; Robinho was again loaned to the Brazilian club by AC Milan in 2014. Most recently, Robinho helped Istanbul Basaksehir to its first-ever Turkish Super Lig title last season.