Steadfast USMNT win tie with England but face shaky World Cup future

Steadfast USMNT win tie with England but face shaky World Cup future


KHOR, Qatar — About seven months ago, when the World Cup draw dropped the United States and England into the same group, the countdown to Friday’s clash at the Al Bayt inspired tents started. The young Americans had made progress in their rebuilding efforts, but with this delightful game they could measure their progress and engage with the global nobility of football.

They were undeterred by the bright opposition and created two delicious chances before half-time. They were disciplined and mature, never deviating from the plan laid out by coach Gregg Berhalter. They silenced a side that scored six times in their first game.

Even though the match ended in a 0-0 draw, the United States savored their performance and relished their chances of coming out of an extremely turbulent Group B. Going into the final set of matches on Tuesday, the Americans (0-0-2, two points) must defeat Iran (1-1-0, three points) to secure one of two places in the round of 16. . England (1-0-1, four points) will face Wales (0-1-1, one point) in the other game.

“I’m happy with the group’s performance and more importantly the group’s confidence because it has never wavered,” Berhalter said. “And what I saw before the game was a team that was extremely focused on getting a result. In the end, that sets up our first World Cup knockout game. We win or we are eliminated from the World Cup.

Midfielder Weston McKennie said: “The most important thing is that we control the outcome of our run in this tournament.”

The Americans grew into the game and made things difficult for the Three Lions, who have high hopes of winning their first World Cup trophy since 1966. “We went with them,” said the striker Christian Pulisic.

The United States created the best scoring opportunities and, dare we say, were superior to a team that finished fourth at the 2018 World Cup and second at the 2020 European Championship (played in 2021).

“There’s a lot of people who obviously thought we were going to blow ourselves up,” McKennie said. “There are a lot of people in the outside world who thought we were obvious underdogs, but to us we didn’t feel like underdogs at all.”

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The United States are 2-8-2 against England, the previous victory dating from 29 years ago, but in three World Cup meetings they are unbeaten (1-0-2). In this clash, it was impossible to tell the blue bloods from the upstarts, the team stacked with cherished international stars from the international novices.

“This team has come a very long way and we should be proud of the performance,” Pulisic said. “Above all, it should inspire confidence and it should give us a good feeling going into this last game which is a must win for us.”

England set the tone, but it wasn’t long before periods of USA optimism gave way to sustained possession and two glorious chances.

Unmarked nine meters from the target, McKennie missed badly. He grabbed his lock of hair dyed red, white, and blue in frustration, knowing such chances would probably be rare.

Seven minutes later, Pulisic dug into a pocket of space just inside the penalty area and targeted the near top corner. His left-footed 16-yard player beat goalkeeper Jordan Pickford but crashed into the crossbar.

England fans got agitated. Mocking them, the American fans chanted, “It’s called football!”

While controlling large swaths of the game, the Americans continue to struggle to score. They haven’t scored in either of the last two tune-ups in September and only scored once in the first half of the 1-1 draw with Wales on Monday.

“We were happy with the positions we had and we had close opportunities,” Berhalter said.

The defense made up for it, however, with an impeccable performance against world-class striker Harry Kane and his strong supporting cast. England never seemed comfortable in possession of the ball and struggled to find solutions to a well-structured American defence.

The only goal conceded by the American team in the first two matches came from Gareth Bale’s late penalty for Wales. Friday marked the first time the United States have shut out a European World Cup opponent since their historic upset against England in 1950.

England managed quality chances at the end of each half. Matt Turner made a diving save to fend off Mason Mount’s offer just before intermission and Kane won an aerial duel from Luke Shaw’s free-kick but poked his header eight yards wide.

For the most part, the Three Lions worked to unlock American resistance that provided an unexpected look: while the team held down three forwards when they had the ball, Pulisic dropped into midfield from the front line when the England took possession of it.

Central defenders Walker Zimmerman and Tim Ream did not crack. Inspiration was provided by captain Tyler Adams, who from his defensive midfield won loose ball after loose ball and executed a superb tackle inside the penalty area to avoid trouble.

The Three Lions tried to pick up the pace late in the game, but the Americans were unfazed.

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Liking the way things were going, Berhalter didn’t make his first move until there were about 15 minutes left. Showing yellow cards from the game against Wales, McKennie and Sergiño Dest walked off, avoiding an extra caution which would have resulted in the game against Iran being suspended.

20-year-old sensation Gio Reyna made his long-awaited World Cup debut in the 83rd minute, but the Americans ran out of chances. Although they failed to score and win, they continued to earn the respect of the footballing world after missing out on the 2018 World Cup. Gains were made with both their large army of fans here and the general public at home.

“I spoke before the World Cup how seriously the team takes this responsibility to build momentum in the sport in America, and good performances will do that,” Berhalter said. “We want to capture the public’s attention. We want to perform at a high level. We want to give them something to be proud of. And nights like this help, but there must be more to come.

World Cup in Qatar

The last: The United States draw 0-0 with England in their second World Cup game on Friday to set up a must-win group final against Iran. Read highlights from the Group B game.

Political protest: The looming backdrop to Iran’s World Cup campaign is a nationwide protest movement targeting its religious leaders, and tensions, inevitable and lingering, are spilling onto the pitch.

Strong points: Where on Tuesday there had been Saudi Arabia against Argentina, it is now the spectacle over 73 minutes in Brazil against Serbia. The wonder of a Richarlison goal cemented Brazil’s opening 2-0 win.

Perspective: The beautiful game is good. Suitcases full of cash are better. Read Sally Jenkins on Qatar’s human rights controversy.

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