England vs USA, Is It Just Another Game?

England Lineup 2008/09

Ever since the World Cup draw was made back in December, all eyes in the United States have been on the first game in Group C. The match against England is widely anticipated in America, but here it’s just another group game. There’s not the same level of excitement, sure England fans are looking forward to it, but because it’s the first game, not because we’re playing the United States.

Everything in England is geared to the tournament finally getting underway. There is no real sense of trepidation or concern for the game against the USA. Don’t mistake that lack of fear as arrogance, it’s simply that there is no real rivalry for England fans to gauge their feelings towards the USA on a football basis. We don’t view the first opponents in that way, we don’t have any footballing history against America. Football - England v Ukraine 2010 World Cup Qualifying European Zone

The view over here is that we’ve been drawn in the easier side of the draw and our group could have been a lot worse. Looking back, it’s probably viewed as the easiest group we’ve had since 1986. Yet that should serve as a stark remainder of what can happen if you take your eye off the ball. A group containing Portugal, Morocco and Poland was viewed as a matter of course for qualification and it simply seemed a case of who would finish second behind England. How wrong those feelings were.

England were drab and lifeless in the first game against Portugal and deservedly lost one nil. England have played Portugal several times since then and are still awaiting another opportunity to end a run that now stretches to 44 years since the last competitive victory against our oldest allies. The next match saw England once again fail to produce and were in danger of imploding, Bryan Robson injured and out of the tournament, Ray Wilkins sent off and 0-0 draw against Morocco left qualification in the balance.

Football - England v Egypt International Friendly

Everything was on the last game, against Poland but the team had been altered due to the loss of Wilkins and Robson and the failings of Mark Hateley up front. The rest as they say is history, with Gary Lineker’s hat trick catapulted England through. It’s certainly not a situation that anyone in the UK sees repeating itself this time in South Africa. Confidence is high amongst the fans, but the ridiculous tub thumbing bravado of the Eriksson years has settled away to something more reflective, more assured, more believable.

The usual four year worrying about key players has also subsided, concerns remain against several members of the squad, through form, injury and personal worries that dogged certain members this year. Yet for all that, most England fans are already plotting England’s opponents in the Second Round. Will it be our old nemesis, Germany, or the hard working Australians or as some experts predict, the dark horses of Ghana. Any of those permutations is already being discussed and dissected.

Gary Lineker

That’s not to say they’re right in thinking that, but that’s football fans the world over, daring to dream. The players will be under no doubts or allow dreams to cloud the thinking. Capello will have them facing each game and each opponent one at a time. There will be no excuses for getting ahead of themselves. As a USA fan, you may be thinking this is all rather conceited and arrogant. I assure you, it isn’t. No-one is expecting another 1950 and we all know enough about the US team, the key players and the tactics, that surprises like that warm Brazilian day on June 29th won’t happen again.

The defeat is now classed as so long ago by the media, that it doesn’t allow the option to stir up the primal need for revenge that say matches against Argentina, France, Germany, Scotland and Portugal brings. Even allowing for the 2-0 defeat in Boston back in 1993 fails to raise the hackles of English fans. That period of failure is written off as the “Graham Taylor era” and no-one likes opening that particular box back up.  Wedged between the semi finals of 1990 and 1996, it’s glossed over at any given opportunity. It’s not that England fans don’t care or feel the result is a forgone conclusion, they just expect the team to win.

Fabio Capello Manager England 2009/10

Some parts of the media will try and stir it up, get some anti-American feeling going, but in general, it’s not there to stir and I feel it’s vice versa. I couldn’t have met a friendlier bunch of people when I was in the States, I really like the place and the people. It suited me. Honestly, I could think of nothing better than living in either Florida or California, I’d love to live the States. I’d bite your arm off to live there, I really would. Especially now that football is growing as a sport.

What has surprised me are some attempts at belittling England, such as the laughable comments that England had an easy group to get through. Despite the excuses being made for Croatia having two players missing, which I think certainly overplays the amount of ability and influence Eduardo has on the national side, beating them 4-1 away and 5-1 at home is not something to write off so easily. Croatia were on a 14 year unbeaten home run. 14 years, now come on surely that deserves a little credit? No, well disputing that as two excellent results is pointless.

Sports News - May 19, 2010

Just because we’re not banging on about the game doesn’t mean we think less of the USA as a footballing nation, or that we don’t rate the team, the talent and tenacity are clearly there. It doesn’t mean we don’t view the USA as a threat, we do. It’s just that as with Algeria and Slovakia, the team are expected to win. Nothing more, nothing less. Me, I’m expecting it to be the toughest game of the group stage and I do honestly hope the USA get through to the second round too. It’ll be tough, but it’s certainly an easier group than you got saddled with last time.

No-one is taken the USA lightly, don’t judge us on our media and some of the chatter that descends through the Internet, like a room full of monkeys tweeting. Talk to us, ask us what we think, don’t make outlandish sweeping statements about how crap England are just to get a reaction, that’s just juvenile. We see enough football to know when someone’s talented.

We were all impressed at Landon Donovan finally having a productive spell in European football, we know what Clint Dempsey offers the team. We know Freddy Adu has dropped off the edge of the world by getting too big for his boots. We’ve seen some of the best players the USA has produced week in, week out in all our leagues. Don’t mistake our silence or reticence for arrogance.It just means we quite like you and surely that’s a good thing isn’t it??

Leave me your comments below, or you can find me on twitter.com/paulbestall where I can talk football all day.

33 thoughts on “England vs USA, Is It Just Another Game?”

  1. It means much less than people are making it out to be

    English fans will never believe that America has a better team even if they lose to the Yanks. Yanks always believe they are #1 even if they aren’t worth a crap

    Bottom line, what people will remember is how far either team makes it.

    If England or the Yanks win the game against each other and the LOSER makes it 1-2 rounds further, their fan base will be more content with how they did.

  2. When England gets beat it will become a symbol of another World Cup failure for the 3 kittens.

    For the US the game does mean a lot. Winning or losing has it’s obvious impact on this years World cup run, but a win against England will mean a big interest boost in the game in the US and become legendary for current US soccer fans. England should see this match has another game but for the US a win would increase the profile of the game.

    GO USA!

  3. if we win it would be a black eye for england since soccer is not our main sport and it is for england. imagine if our number 1 sport was soccer instead of football, im sure the rest of the world wants us to continue to be ignorant towards the beautiful game. because if we focus all our effort and money in soccer, everything would change forever.

  4. England is supposed to beat the USA – the country eats, sleeps and $hits football &
    the pressure is will be mounted on the favorite. I believe USA could win this depending on which squad shows us. The American’s have the better Keeper and Tim Howard is going to have an amazing tournament! Jozy and Clint up front, with Landon pushing forward from midfield ….USA has the pieces to make a run.

    United States is super excited for the World Cup — England has nothing to do with it. The greatest sporting tournament is finally back and that is all we care about , heck we could be playing Chile on June 12th and be just as excited!

  5. The World Cup will be finished before I’m finished reading your “column”

    Does The Gaffer pay you per word or something?

    One word for you Fella “EDIT”

  6. The writer is saying that regular, English people respect the American squad and then we get silly comments that call England the “3 kittens” and others that speculate that America would be the best in the world – if only they made it the main sport.

    England will win that game (and they should). The US should stop caring so much about the England game and focus on getting out of the group. That is how you raise awareness of the game in the US – advance in the tournament.

    Just like the US will be tougher than England are expecting, I don’t think Algeria or Slovenia are going to be as easy as the US are coming in thinking.

    1. There unfortunately are many US fans that take this approach Gaz. They put so much emphasis on this match against England that they forget there are two other crucial matches to play in order to advance. I have a feeling that the coaching staff isn’t this naive and I know for a fact that educated US fans would trade an England loss for six points against their other two opponents.

      But at the same time, I see where many US fans and pundits are coming from. This game against England means a whole lot to the US for other reasons. Ratings to help give this sport the very respect it deserves in this country for one, and credibility among all of the haters for another.

      Jabs at England such as “the three kittens” are not needed, but I read the comments and see any comment pro-US getting negative votes just shows me that this blog is overrun by ex-pats. It is a bit of the pot calling the kettle black because the last time England lost to the US it started a down spiral effect that lead to them crashing out in Brazil. You and all the other EPLTalk readers all probably read as much sky/bbc/mirror etc reports as I do and know damn well that England have a lot riding on this match against The States just like we do. But what’s great for both teams is that they both have coaches who will not let this game affect the goal of getting out of the group.

  7. Hooray for England; win or lose, I always support the Three Lions. The WC is mild summer diversion.
    I’ll take club football any day of the week; can’t wait until August for the league season to return…until then….three cheers for Ole England!

  8. I think this game is bigger then everyone thinks for some reason. This game is the most sought out for tickets out of all the games in the group stage. After the success in the Confederations Cup, I think this is huge for the USA opening up the WC against a good team. I do believe the USA can beat England, but that of course depends on what team shows up. That’s been the biggest issue facing the USA, consistency. It drives me nuts how they play well against good opponents, then look dreadful against teams like Trinidad & Tobago.

  9. England will destroy the usa. There are no supporters more ignorant and annoying than usa supporters. Here’s why:

    1) Just like eplfan up above, they’re always whining about “growing the game” or “raising its profile”. What a bunch of wimps. Who cares if others like it or not. You all seem sad trying to get others to join you. It just makes you look pathetic, and ends up backfiring on you lot because no one wants to hang out with such needy blokes. “Please like our sport! Please pay attention to it, media!” Pitiful.

    2) Their supporters culture is contrived, fake and copied. There’s not a single original chant among them, all copied from others. Plus, their obsession with scarves. By God, you lot are an embarrassment. No wonder Jim Rome and others ridicule you idiots. There’s nothing authentic or respectable about you.

    3) Finally, (the biggest crime) changing the name of football. Hello thick yanks, you use your FOOT on the BALL all game. It’s the perfect name for it and its official name. Yet you imbeciles think its other name sounds “cooler”. That just shows that your mental level is of elementary school at best.

    I laugh at the usa. The usa’s most popular national football team is Mexico. HAHAHA!!! That says it all right there.

    1. 3) Finally, (the biggest crime) changing the name of football. Hello thick yanks, you use your FOOT on the BALL all game. It’s the perfect name for it and its official name. Yet you imbeciles think its other name sounds “cooler”. That just shows that your mental level is of elementary school at best.

      Yikes, that’s embarrassing. The name actually comes from Association Football, a term the British used to distinguish today’s football from Rugby. So it’s not just some made up name that sounds cooler. “That just shows that your mental level is of elementary school at best.”

      1. while i feel the same way, i have to say in that the name “soccer” was actually created by a brit: “Charles Wreford Brown”.

    2. First, I apologize for the length of this response… however I really dislike when someone alters the facts to make a point.

      I’m really suprised by your comments. As a football fan I’m embarrassed by your comments and question your allegiance to the game itself.

      First, to say that England will destroy the US is a bit of an exaggeration. I don’t believe the US will win but the US will make a match of it as they are a defensive team, realizing their shortcomings offensivley they will hunker down defensively andl look to capitilize on the counter, at the very least making it a close match.

      In regards to “growing the game” and “raising the profile” this is the par that suprises me and makes me question your support for the game itself. Football is a beautiful game and I would welcome the chance to “grow the game” anywhere where it is not a primary sport. The US has many sports which are derived in and thrive in the States which other countries (including England) are trying to “grow” and “raise the profile”. A perfect example is the sellout of an NFL game the past two years at Wembley. Basketball, is another example, not in England but throughout the rest of the world. As a fan of basketball, american football and football I am happy to see the game grow where it is currently lacking awareness. I’m sorry you don’t wish for your sport to grow.

      All supporters cultures are contrived, fake and copied. One of the most popular football chants is a variation of “when the saints go marching in” an american gospel hymn. Birmingham city, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Man U just to name a few. And i scarves are an embarssement someone needs to send a memo to English fans. I was at a tottenham match earlier this month and saw more scarves then I’d ever seen.

      Finally, you’re point regarding changing the name is just silly. Football alone does not refer to the game being played this summer in South Africa. Football is simply the generalized name for any of a number of team games played with kicking a ball with a foot. Within this set you have gridiron football (american football), Canadian football (a version of the american game), Austrailian football, rugby and the most widely known Association Football ( what the yankes call soccer).
      So with that, it’s understandable that the americans call association football soccer for short as gridiron football was already established in the states before association football was introduced. Soccer my friend was a word created by the English as nickname for asSOCiation football as to not be confused with rugby football.

      Please get your facts straight before you make

    3. you are right but you forgot to mention how foreigners in the epl is hurting your national team because for the most part they cant start on their own teams and thats why the new rule will go into effect this season. lmao

      1. Actually, that’s a World wide rule being brought in by Sepp Blatter, but it’s still being challenge in the courts as it is, effectively, a restraint of trade.

        The argument about it hurting the national side simply doesn’t stand up. How many World Cups did England qualify for in the 1970’s? None. How many non-UK players were there in the UK during the 70’s, about 3.

        IN 1982, unbeaten but went out in second round on goal difference.
        In 1986, lost in the quarters.
        In 1990, lost in semi-finals.
        In 1994 Didn’t qualify
        In 1998, Second Round
        2002 & 2006, Quarter finalists. Therefore England are currently in their best run in the modern post Premiership era. So the facts don’t support the point really.

        It’s a a xenophobic excuse used by jingoistic English journalists to protect themselves when they’ve once again foolishly backed England to win and can’t face facts that there are better teams than England in World football, which there are.

        If anything, the problem about English football is the coaching. No emphasis on skill, everything on stamina. That is the main failing in developing English talent, not the amount of non English players in the Premiership. If the players are good enough, they will get the opportunity.

        1. thank you for the history lesson paul. i think english players are awesome but i was thinking about arsenal when i made the statement.

          1. Ha, well that told me Jose!

            That’s a fair point but it’s a consistent theme with Wenger, other than Sol Campbell, he’s not really had much luck with English players.

        2. sepp blatter is a clown, there is such a thing called european law which prevents which supports the free movement of workers through europe and the prevention of anything that might go against this. The bosman ruling stamped out the rule years ago, back in the 90’s english clubs were only allowed to have 3-4 non english players but bosman said that this rule stopped or atleast got in the way of him playing football in england. european court agreed and that is why today there is no restriction on the amount of E.U players a team can have (Arsenal) there is still a restriction on non E.U players and that is why you will not see more than four non- european players on the field at once.
          Blatter has zero chance of changing this back to the way it was and to be honest a person in his position should be already know this.

    1. I will cheer for the US up until they are knocked out and then I will cheer for England b/c many of the players from my squad play for England. I think it’s okay to cheer for England… but I won’t cheer for them over the US.

    2. To me, this is. But what I begin to accept is that to each their own with supporting the sport. It’s unfortunate because you probably hate the MLS and you don’t support the sport in the very land that you live in. As a US soccer fan, I support the US and I support the MLS as well. But I also watch attractive leagues such as the EPL.

      1. I don’t hate the MLS. But, I don’t exactly support it then, either. Maybe I should. As a Chelsea supporter, I’ll be supporting England because of Frank Lampard, John Terry, and Ashley Cole. I could never cheer against any Chelsea player.
        We can agree to disagree.

  10. I think its unfair to say anything qualifies as a big game when you win or lose the same amount of points.

    First and foremost both England and the USA(as everybody else competing) want to go as far as they can. If England and the USA picked up 6 points elsewhere but lost to each other theyd be happy with that.

    The America vs England game isn’t really being talked about in England at all. People probably bring up Spain a lot as the most dangerous candidate and a few other teams we are very weary of but the feeling is that the USA game should be competitive but we will probably get enough points out of the group stage(including the US game) to get further.

    I’m personally not concerned about the US or the group stage games, I am worried about the games that will come afterwards. England will really have to step their game up to compete with the likes of Spain and Germany. A tournament is never easy to predict maybe both England and the USA will be out during the group stages. I think England will qualify and I think the USA has a very good chance of qualifying too.

    My own predictions are England will get 2 wins and 1 draw. In the USA game I’d say it’s 2-0 England. I think the USA will qualify too but I think it may be quite close.

  11. Living in the US as an Ex pat, I support England and have already told friends over here I will be VERY upset if we don’t win on the 12th. Football (and yes it peeves me the name is changed here) is our national sport and our passion so we should win. Having been to a few of our local MLS games in Seattle the supporters are loud and enthusiastic, however I always have the feeling they support the team because it is the latest thing to do and not because they enjoy the game! (just wait until the novalty wears off and see how many attend the game) Yes England have had years when they were crap and I am sure they will have ups and downs again – hoever we will always support them – unconditional love!
    Outside of the Olympics this is the only time the US has a national team playing on the world’s stage – after all every other tournament here – The Worlds Series – USA and Canada hardly the world! is at the national level not the international level, so allow them a moment of pride that we have finally allowed them to play the “Worlds Game” When they are not playing England I am happy to pop down the pub and cheer them on and I hope they are the other team that goes through from our group.

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