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'I don’t see Bale' - USMNT defender Walker Zimmerman explains penalty disaster against Wales in World Cup opener

4:58 PM GMT 22/11/2022
Walker Zimmerman USMNT Wales react 2022
United States men's national team defender Walker Zimmerman admitted that he didn't see the threat of Gareth Bale until it was too late on Monday.
  • Zimmerman fouled Bale in box
  • Bale scored equalizer from the spot
  • USMNT defender "frustrated" by 82nd-minute mistake

WHAT HAPPENED? Zimmerman wagged his finger at the referee after he blew the whistle for the penalty, but after the match the defender suggested the correct call was made in the 1-1 draw. He credited Bale for a "clever move" that prompted the foul.

WHAT THEY SAID: "The ball gets down to the end line, I see it get cut back and at that point, I’m dropping down and on the way to step out and clear the ball, I don’t see Bale coming across," Zimmerman said after the match. "I think it was one of those where he probably just puts his leg, not for the ball, but to try to get in the way of me hitting the ball. So I kind of went through him and I think I still got the ball, but it was a clever move.

"I wish I would have seen him out of the corner of my eye when trying to clear the ball, but it was instinctive. It was quick. And I’m a little bit frustrated by that. But sometimes those plays happen."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: There's no getting around the fact that the foul could be a definitive moment in the USMNT's mission to reach the knockout stage. If Zimmerman didn't take down Bale from behind, the Stars and Stripes could have moved into full control of second place in Group B.

IN TWO PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT FOR ZIMMERMAN? The center back's starting place is not in danger despite his error, and he will likely line up next to Tim Ream again on Friday against England.