England: The USA Verdict
After the opening matches for England and the United States have concluded what are the strengths and weaknesses for the USA’s second group stage games against England.
England come off a 6-2 result against Iran and the USA finished with a 1-1 result against Wales.
As an American, these are my three worries for Friday’s fixture against the Three Lions and also three strengths for the Stars and Stripes.
My first concern is squad depth and experience. It’s well-known that the US, under Bruce Arena, failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia during 2018. The only player with a cap in the World Cup is DeAndre Yedlin. England, on the other hand, has 11 players who are returning after playing in Russia four years ago. All 26 English players are a part of teams in the Premier League, Jude Bellingham the lone exception playing with Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.
Set pieces are another worry I have for the US. Throughout the Euros last year and the opening match against Iran, England has scored four set piece goals. Although only having four goals to show for their countless efforts off of free kicks and throw-ins the Three Lions are still a danger in the attacking third. I do feel comfortable for the US to defend though. In CONCACAF Nations League, Gold Cup, and World Cup Qualifying the US defended well and only conceded 5 set piece goals through those 26 matches.
My last (partial) concern is the no out and out striker for the US. In recent years, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donavan proved to be the USA’s number nine. During CONCACAF World Cup qualifying Gregg Berhalter called up many strikers. His decision saw Ricardo Pepi and Jordan Pefok, both of which made many appearances during qualifying. England though, have a true number nine in Harry Kane. A consistent striker for the Three Lions.
My country have a young and promising team that could make a long journey through this World Cup. The average age of the USA team is 25.2 years old, only Ghana brought a younger team averaging 24.7. England’s team has an average age of 26.4 and the starting 11 against Iran had a team average of 26. The Stars and Stripes lined up with an average age of 24.7 in their starting 11 and Tim Ream, who is 35, brought up the average from 24.1 if Yedlin would’ve started or from 24.2 if Aaron Long started instead.
Also, you cannot underestimate the speed the US posses all over the field. The United State’s goal against Wales is a prime example, Christian Pulisic slipped Timothy Weah a through ball in which Weah flew past the centre back and netted the opening goal of the US World Cup campaign in eight years. The free-flowing attack and pacy wing backs proved a threat with runs by Antonee Robinson and Sergiño Dest that created opportunities against the Welsh.
Another threat for the US is the midfield. Many teams may have a better first glance midfield, but if you stop to concentrate on how the US runs the center of the pitch you can see that many players hold up the middle well and draw contact or play out quickly. Tyler Adams and Yunus Musah played great in their World Cup debuts. Pulisic was seen as a target and got harassed by Wales with the referee doing little to intervene. Like I said previously, the players with pace out wide prove a crucial threat but also their ball handling ability does as well.
The US will look to respond on Friday 25 November after a draw against Wales. An unlucky, or possibly argued unfair, calls were made by the official including fouls, yellow cards and inconsistent stoppages.
The United States of America’s performance will not be overshadowed by the official and will see to top the group if they can get all three points against the group’s favorites.