Football fans around the world will be beaming with excitement when England take on USA this Saturday. The prospect of seeing one of the outside favourites to win the World Cup in their opening game against very reasonable opponents is an exciting one.
In the English press, when the draw for the group stage was made, the English labeled it E-A-S-Y. Which stood for, England, Algeria, Slovenia, ‘Yanks.’ Now, finally, the time has come for England to prove their worth. If they cannot beat teams like USA, like Algeria and like Slovenia, then surely they will have very little chance against technically superior sides like Spain or Brazil or Argentina. England’s Wayne Rooney and the midfield duo of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard will be vital to England’s World Cup chances during the tournament, and expect to see those three bagging the goals for the Three Lions.
In the United States, the mood is positive before this gigantic clash. The most encouraging signs for the USMNT were Landon Donovan’s very positive stint at Everton, Clint Dempsey’s sparkling form for Fulham, and Edson Buddle’s recent goal-return for the LA Galaxy. In last year’s Confederations Cup, USA beat European Champions 2-0, beat African Champions Egypt 3-0, and were beating Brazil 2-0 at half-time, before the score was reversed and Brazil went on to win 3-2. Still, the USMNT showed the World last year that they really are a force to be reckoned with, so England beware.
But the question remains: What must the USMNT do to beat Fabio Capello’s Three Lions?
1. Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey Must Perform
The two most talented USMNT players must be on their a-game if USA have any chance of upsetting England on Saturday. Because the English full-backs, Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole, like to bomb forward and support the attack, space will open up behind them for Donovan and Dempsey to exploit.
2. Bob Bradley Must Hold The Midfield
Because most of England’s creativity will come from central positions with players like Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard either bombing through the midfield or cutting in from out wide, Bob Bradley must make sure that the USMNT’s midfield is strong enough to stamp out the creativity England possess in midfield. A combination of Michael Bradley and Jose Francisco Torres, or Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu, would be good options in the center of midfield for the USMNT to block out the threat England possess in the middle of the pitch. Two holding-type midfield players like this will allow USA to both win the ball in midfield, and keep the ball in midfield and pass it on to more creative players, namely Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey.
3. USA’s Backline Must Stand Tall
A combination of Steven Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu, Jay DeMerit, and Carlos Bocanegra will most likely start at the back for USA. Unless the USMNT plan on out-scoring England, they have to stand firm at the back and clog up all the holes we’ve seen at the back from the USMNT in recent friendlies. Oguchi Onyewu, if fit, will be responsible for quite a lot if Wayne Rooney and Peter Crouch start up front for England. But, if a midfield of duo Maurice Edu and Michael Bradley can shut out England’s creative midfielders, then USA’s defense will have much less to do.
Come on you Yanks!