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World Cup: Tyler Adams to take historic captaincy into USA's opener vs. Wales

United States Men's National Team manager Gregg Berhalter (R) named midfielder Tyler Adams a 2022 World Cup captain Sunday in Doha, Qatar. Photo by Abir Sultan/EPA-EFE
United States Men's National Team manager Gregg Berhalter (R) named midfielder Tyler Adams a 2022 World Cup captain Sunday in Doha, Qatar. Photo by Abir Sultan/EPA-EFE

Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Tyler Adams will make history Monday in the United States' opening match at the 2022 World Cup, becoming the first Black man to captain the Americans at a World Cup and the youngest captain at this year's tournament.

The United States announced the midfielder's elevation to captain Sunday. The Americans will battle Wales in a Group B match at 2 p.m. EST Monday at Al Rayyan Stadium in Ar-Rayyan, Qatar.

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"It's a huge honor for me to be named captain of this team," Adams told reporters Sunday. "It's a very young team, but a lot of credit to my teammates because anyone throughout our leadership council can wear that armband and represent us with pride and represent us the right way.

"I'm obviously representing us for this World Cup, but there are a bunch of guys on the team and the leadership council, Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Aaron Long, the list goes on and on. We've established that we all lead in different ways, so that anyone can represent us on any given day and represent us well."

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Adams, 23, also is the youngest man to captain the Americans at a World Cup since Walter Bahr earned the honor in 1950. Bahr also was 23, but about six months younger than Adams. Adams made his debut for the senior team in 2017. He totaled 32 appearances for the Americans.

"We think he has great leadership capabilities," U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter said. "He leads by his actions and his words. We are proud to have him as a captain."

The Americans are favored to beat Wales. They will meet England in their second Group B match at 2 p.m. Friday at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar. The Americans will then play Iran in their Group B finale at 2 p.m. Nov. 29 at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar.

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Adams and the United States are not among the Top 15 favorites to claim the World Cup title. England is the favorite to claim Group B, with Wales expected to earn the group's second qualification spot for the knockout stage Round of 16.

In other armband-related news, FIFA threatened to issue yellow cards Monday morning to captains who wear "OneLove" armbands at the tournament.

Several team captains had said they planned to wear those armbands, which feature a multi-colored heart meant to support diversity and inclusion, but their countries have since said they will wear the FIFA-provided captain armbands at the tournament to avoid "sporting sanctions," including bookings.

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"FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play," England, Wales, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland said in a joint statement, hours before England kicked off against Iran on Monday in Doha.

"As national federations, we can't put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games."

Instead of the "OneLove" armband, England captain Harry Kane sported a FIFA-provided "No Discrimination" captain's band. FIFA said it still supports "all legitimate causes, such as 'One Love.'"

Senegal and the Netherlands also will begin their World Cup games Monday, in addition to England, Iran, the USA and Wales.

Ecuador beat Qatar 2-0 in the World Cup opener Sunday in Al Khor. The 2022 World Cup will end with the final match Dec. 18 in Lusail, Qatar.

Games will air on Fox and FS1, with Spanish broadcasts available on Telemundo and Universo.

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