England – Champions (1966)

United States – 3rd (1950)


The United States, like South Korea, Japan and Mexico are teams that are better than most in the World except maybe the top 15. The States have a solid starting XI and good subs, and even have a bit of a style and tactical acumen. None of these attributes, as any longtime fan of the United States will tell you, were present 20 years ago.

The States even have gifted individual talent in the wonderful vision of Landon Donovan, the grit of Clint Dempsey, the sheer power and finesse of Jozy Altidore and the raw speed that is present amongst so many of the forwards in the US side.

What the United States has in abundance is a scrappy refusal to lose in big games to big teams. It was this fact alone that got the United States past their two generation long mental block with local rivals Mexico.

The United States next mental Block seemed to have been to be getting a result, or even playing well against the big teams of the world.

The United States match against Italy in the 2006 World Cup, their performances in qualifying and Gold Cup play and their dress rehearsal at last summer’s Confederations Cup, have taught this team how to hang in there, and survive, and every once in a while, get a result against the big teams in the big games.

England is one of those teams and this is one of those games.

Make no mistake, the United States can win this game, though the result of this match is meaningless. Both sides know that moving out of Group C will have to be at the expense of Algeria and Slovenia. Points against those teams are absolute imperatives. Today’s match will do nothing to determine the two teams that advance.


This match, however, is one for the heart, for history, for rivalry, for business, for media, for growth of the sport and for pride. That is more than good enough for me.

The United States will look to use Altidore’s power and possession to stay alive against the potent England team. Altidore will be the lone man up top in the first half, but in the second he will give way to Buddle. The US will then apply more slashing runs from the wings and maximize the grace of Donovan and the recklessness of Dempsey to avoid the England full backs and take the matter directly to Ledley King John Terry and whoever starts in goal.

England, for their part will be aggressive in the first half and try not to let the US counter attack settle in, and in the second half will settle in and to smother the States attack and free up Ashley Cole, Joe Cole and Glen Johnson.


Outside of Brazil, Argentina and Spain, England have as good a starting XI as any team in the tournament, with a team that is battle hardened weekly in the most prestigious league in the world. England love good flank play and will look to put the ball at the feet of Joe Cole, James Milner Ashley Cole and Aaron Lennon, who will all be able to send in serviceable crosses to Emile Heskey. Though Heskey rarely scores, he sets the table for players that do. Wayne Rooney, for example, scores. A lot. He is the envy of all but a few teams in South Africa, and based on the strength of Group C, Rooney may just find himself with a Golden Boot by the time England head back home.

This is not to say the England have no weakness, it is just that England have few weaknesses that anyone in Group C will be able to exploit.

Certainly, Ledley King, struggling to find fitness that lasts longer than one match out of every two, is a potential weakness, as is Fabio Capello’s dubious reliance on David James in goal. Then there is the often confused and muddled state of the England midfield, and the unconvincing style that seems to descend over the team at some point during a 90 minute match.

Japan and Mexico both exploited these weaknesses in recent friendlies. Not that it mattered, as both of those friendly results went England’s way.

England will play a 4-4-2, because thats what they do, regardless of manager or tactic. They will not need to be flexible in that regard to win Group C.


“I would concede stopping [Wayne] Rooney is the key to our chances of success. He is such an important player in their team. He comes here off a super season. Our ability to keep track of him and make life hard for him is a key part of us making sure we can win.”

Bob Bradley – United States Manager


The US full backs versus the England wings. How will Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundelo, or Jonathan Spector cope with the pace of Lennon, Cole, Cole and Johnson? This battle will decide all.


England – Ashley Cole. He is the best left back in the World and he seems to get a little better every week. The United States will be hard pressed to find an answer for him, on offense or defense.

United States – Oguchi Onyewu. Every US player can have the game of their lives, but if Gooch is not on form, the States will struggle..

X-Factor – Joe Cole. The other Cole shredded the United States in a friendly a few years back, and though both teams are much different today, his strengths point directly down the barrel of the United States weaknesses.


England will go in at the half up 2-0, but the United States will struggle for breath and put one back after the interval to set up a frantic finish, but England wins the day 2-1.

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