Let’s face it, the matchup between the U.S. and England this Saturday will all but decide the winner of Group C. England is the favorite of the bunch with the U.S. being the only team who figures to give them trouble. Algeria and Slovenia round out the group of four, but neither seems primed to make it to the field of 16. England has the best player/coach duo (Wayne Rooney/Fabio Capello) in the group and possibly the whole tournament, which makes them a team nobody wants to face. Well the U.S. has no choice but to get tossed right into the fire this Saturday against Rooney and the bunch. The good thing, if you can call it that, is that we’ll find out right away if the U.S. is for real. This makes the match with England one of the most intriguing early games of the World Cup. Let’s see how these two teams stack up against one another.
U.S. thrives on never-say-die mentality
No national team in U.S. men’s soccer history has ever been as talented as the squad coach Bob Bradley is putting on the field in 2010. With names like Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Tim Howard, the team is primed for success. If last year’s Confederations Cup was any indication of the potential this team has, U.S. fans have reason to be excited. The U.S. ended Spain’s world-record 15 straight wins by upsetting the European champions in the semi-final of the Cup. Then they pushed Brazil to the brink before losing 3-2 in the final.
Even though the U.S. has their most talented team to date, they simply don’t compare to teams like England, Spain and Brazil when you’re looking at pure raw talent. But what the U.S. does have is a ridiculously intense work ethic and never-say-die attitude, which can be somewhat attributed to Coach Bradley. Bradley is a student of the game and has spent countless hours watching film of some coaching greats such as England’s Capello and Sir Alex Ferguson. These coaches were master motivators and got the best out of each and every player on his team. Bradley has done this with his current U.S. squad, and it instantly makes them a team to watch out for. Granted, the World Cup is much different than the Confederations Cup, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone of the Americans could steal a point or even upset England.
As stated before, England is superior to U.S. at almost every position and can exploit them just about everywhere on the field. The U.S. has always struggled to keep possession in the midfield, which is a big problem when facing England because they thrive on playing controlled, possession-minded soccer. The U.S. also has to worry about running with England’s defenders who come up on the counterattack. This puts some pressure on Michael Bradley, who will need to play well on both sides of the ball for the U.S. to keep this one close. Oh, and they may want to keep track on Rooney as well. When scouting Rooney, the only thing you need to remember is that he is the most complete center forward in the world and has the capability to take over the game all by himself. Trying to figure out how to contain him is a whole other ballgame, though.
England hopes to change history of slow starts in World Cup
England is one of the most talented teams in the World Cup, but they do have some glaring issues that they need to fix if they are to go deep into the tournament. First of all, England has been known to be slow starters in the World Cup. If they come out flat against the U.S., it could spell trouble. Their defense is also missing a key component in Rio Ferdinand, and Ledley King will play but will not be 100 percent because of a knee injury. Their midfield will also need a facelift considering Gareth Barry will not play against the U.S.. Barry is such an integral part of England’s midfield especially since he is the catalyst in front of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. It will be intriguing to see how Coach Capello rearranges his midfield to make up for the loss of Barry.
The one edge that England doesn’t have on the U.S. is their goalkeeper. Unlike Howard for the Americans, England doesn’t have a guy they have confidence in to get the job done. They have two guys who lack experience in Rob Green and Joe Hart and another who may be past his prime in David James. Capello will most likely start Green because he is the best choice of the three. But he’s far away from being a top-rated goalkeeper.
Anything can happen when you have the best players in the world competing to attain the same goal. It will be exciting to see if the U.S. can prove to the rest of the world that they are for real. Beating England on Saturday would be a nice place to start. My prediction – USA 2, England 1.