England Vs United States, what went wrong?
By Tom Clayton
A long-awaited fixture in what should’ve been a pushover. Before the match against Gregg Berhalter’s team, England thrashed fellow Group B opposition Iran in a thrilling 6-2 victory in the Khalifa International Stadium which proved to be even sweeter following Iran’s shock win against Wales on Friday which ended 2-0. It was a night where the country's eyes were firmly locked onto the screens which later proved to be a snooze fest, not only for the neutrals; but especially for England fans who watched their team have fewer shots than the opposition across the pond. It is safe to say it was not a game to remember and it is a game that has drifted out of the minds of those who watched. But what went wrong for the Three Lions in a much-anticipated game?
It seemed England did not match the occasion as they were flat for the entire game. A lack of purpose lingered throughout the performance of England who could not match the intensity of their counterparts. They could not get around the blue wall of the United States that stood firm in front of them. There were glimmers of the 0-0 performance in last year’s Euros – a lacklustre performance. England underestimated the heart of the United States and defended and sniffed out England. The ball was being played sideways, making the eyes of those watching imitate that of a table tennis game. It could have been way different, Juventus and United States star Weston McKennie had the chance to fire the States 1-0 up in the 26th minute, instead, he fired over – the warning sign that England should have used to build upon.
The best chance of the game fell for Harry Kane late on in the game when he fired wide a free header which summed up his performance. England has never beaten the US in major tournaments, and they did not come close to changing that statistic. The once-quoted “Lebron James of soccer” nearly wrote his way into the history book when Pulisic struck the bar after a scintillating piece of skill to beat Trippier.
The fans were not impressed with the performance on and off the pitch after England manager Gareth Southgate stood firm with his line-up from the Iran game. Saka dazzled the pitch early on as he did against Iran, but it was not meant to be. England was predictable and not problematic. The United States defenders were not even blowing a breath of tiredness. On a pristine pitch, an atmosphere that was not as present as it was on social media fell even flatter after Southgate decided to leave England and Man City starlet Phill Foden on the bench. He could have been the key to unlock the towers of the United States defence, but it was a key unused.