Lackluster England Draw USA, But Better Things to Come from the Three Lions

England's Steven Gerrard (L) fights for the ball with Landon Donovan of the US during a 2010 World Cup Group C soccer match at Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg June 12, 2010.     REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

Let’s face it, England were quite poor in their opening game match of the 2010 World Cup with the United States, but I whole-heartedly believe that it’s not all doom and gloom just yet and England fans have seen nothing near the best that will come from the Three Lions throughout the rest of this month long tournament.

I’m taking nothing away from the US who put on a great show. For much of the match, the US looked the better team, but also looked like the team that wanted it more. What an incredible job they did in closing down England players, bossing the midfield and defending when England pushed for the winner. 

The US played with heart and determination and easily could have won the match when Jozy Altidore skinned Jamie Carragher down the left side of midfield and cut in towards goal only for Robert Green to push the shot onto the post, Green redeemed, if only slightly.

But the thing I noticed about England’s performance allowed me to convince myself that in all actuality, the draw wasn’t such a bad result for England (more specifically, it proved to me that Gareth Barry will allow England to change their formation and congeal upon his return). Remember, Italy drew the US in 2006 and went on to lift the trophy. Great teams take a few games to gel, to find their best eleven and to figure out what works best for them as a unit playing in a different country with a different atmosphere. There were some positives to build on for the next match v Algeria.

Rooney came alive somewhat during the second half after an extremely quiet first. Rooney is a player that hasn’t been at his best in the past few months, but seems to be slowly building back towards what we know he can do. Steven Gerrard looks the part of captain as he was able to get forward and score England’s opening goal. Aaron Lennon looked decent when he was actually able to run at defenders, but remained quiet for large spells during the evening. If Lennon can find that killer ball to go along with his blistering pace, England will find a winner in their next match.

The positive way to look at things for England fans is to realize that the weaknesses that were shown against the US, (the back line, the goal keeping, etc.) have always been known and understood. Hey, at least no new glaring weaknesses have surfaced with this England team. It will now be time to move on with a point, take what can be learned from this match and get three points in the next one and progress to the round of 16. World Cups aren’t won or lost in the opening game and Green’s monumental error that allowed the US to equalize is saved 99 out of 100 times. If anything, England just need a little luck.

England did in fact dominate possession, create more chances, and were able to push more players forward and support attacks than the States were able to muster. The US were just able to hold on and to defend well enough and deny England the winner with so many players back in support of the defense.

On the other hand, England is England, and England will always be England. The midfield combination of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard have yet to convince me that the two of them can ever function together as an attacking unit in such close space. When Gareth Barry returns to Fabio Capello’s plans, then and only then will the both of them be able to coincide effectively on the same pitch at the same time. Gerrard will likely play on the left side of midfield which will allow Lampard more room to himself in the center of the pitch while Barry protects the back four, an asset they really need.

I’d love to see Capello place Gerrard slightly behind a forward Rooney and utilize an attacking midfield three in Lampard, Lennon and James Milner, if fit. Barry in front of Terry and Carragher would give the England back line some much needed stability. Speaking of,…

More question marks now surround the back line, more specifically the back two than ever before. Carragher looked himself upon his arrival and way off the pace. Former captain John Terry looked indecisive and also slow at times. My initial thoughts of Ferdinand’s absence not effecting England that much may easily be proved wrong in the next two group stage matches.

It’s not all doom and gloom for England just yet. Can Gareth Barry be that small key that will unlock England’s bigger picture of success? Can Rooney re-find the incredible form he showed for club this past season? Although there are questions that Fabio Capello will want answered from his players soon, for England, it could have been worse and should likely get better.


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