England 2-0 USA
Wembley Way mourned the loss of its soul last night as the fans filling its three-quarter full stadia could only muster up a mediocre atmosphere to compliment England’s dull 2-0 triumph over a woeful USA side.
Only a timely flicked header from skipper John Terry and beautiful move finished off by man-of-the-match Steven Gerrard brought any life to a game which was always destined to be a lacklustre affair.
England played well enough to deservedly and comfortably ease to victory, but their tired performance will still not be tolerated by most passionate supporters when the competitive business begins again in September.
Chances came along as often as a Britney Spears number one, and the flowing, intricate passing move which led to Gerrard’s easy finish was the only moment in which true brilliance carved open the American backline.
Smiles were also evident when Terry glanced home a trademark Beckham free-kick from the right, to at least ensure the Chelsea captain’s summer holidays will be spent a bit more relaxed after his penalty woes in Moscow last week. Most football fans across the country will be pleased for the centre-back, as his pure passion and determination to succeed was undone only by misfortune on the slippery surface of Luzniki Stadium seven days ago, and everybody would like to see England’s stars performing in the good spirits.
Wayne Rooney is another one of our goldenboys, and his enthusiastic and energetic performance can surely only be greeted with pleasure by the watching Fabio Capello, who deployed the Manchester United striker behind Portsmouth frontman Jermain Defoe in a 4-4-1-1 formation. His persistent backtracking eventually cost him a booking late in the second half, but his contribution will encourage fans nationwide that have seen his international form worsen since his prolific Euro 2004 Championships.
Capello is desperate for Rooney to save more energy though, as he appears tired when he finally gets himself into goalscoring opportunities and cutting down on how much defensive work he does is one idea that has been put forward by the Italian manager.
To succeed on the international stage, England need all of their top guns performing to their absolute maximum, and all supporters in the country will hope and prey that the man that was once so formidable in front of goal regains his midus touch very soon.
Steven Gerrard was very much on form last night though, and his passing will have impressed Capello, especially as he is so keen to see his playing staff to improve this area of their game. The Liverpool captain also tidily slotted home England’s second goal, following the most thrilling moment of the match when Gareth Barry and others worked a truly wonderful move.
And Terry is another who deserves tremendous credit for bouncing back so swiftly following such painful heartbreak in the Champions League final to Manchester United. It was only this time last week when his eyes were flowing with tears at such a tragedy, but he regained his mental state to put in a terrific defensive display, albeit against one of the least productive attacking forces to ever visit Wembley in recent times. He and Rio Ferdinand provided a tight security to their fellow, more attack-minded, colleagues, yet they severely struggled to take advantage of such a luxury.
So but for some shining lights of hope, it was extremely boring and lethargic from England yet again last night at Wembley. The team have yet to excite under strict tactician Fabio Capello, but the Italian can only be properly judged when the World Cup qualifying campaign starts in Andorra in September.
Before then the team head out on an absurd trip to Trinidad and Tobago, where another experimental friendly awaits us and England’s worn out players.