After pulling Iran apart in the opener, England fell way below the high bar they’ve set for themselves at this World Cup. A dogged performance from the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) frustrated the attacking riches of England.
England a shadow of the first game
For most of the game, England were very pedestrian. There was a lot of build-up, but England could not breach the final third with any clear chances.
Southgate, known for his loyalty, made no changes from the team that started the game against Iran. The problem is now that Southgate’s loyalty is predictable. The US midfield effectively neutralized Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka, who were standouts from the first game.
Raheem Sterling impressed in the game against Iran, but played more like he has for Chelsea in the game today. Conversely, Christian Pulisic, who has also struggled for form at Chelsea, was causing all sorts of problems for the England defense.
A youthful USMNT showed bundles of athleticism.
They’ve only scored one goal after the two games and will need to outscore Iran to progress in the tournament. Berhalter’s men should take plenty of confidence from the result against England.
Meanwhile England’s players should be kicking themselves for missing the chance to book a place in the next round. They now have to get a positive result against Wales to confirm their place in the last 16.
What needs to change for England?
It’s becoming a familiar refrain, will Southgate continue to trust in the core group of players?
It was frustrating to see Phil Foden and Callum Wilson on the bench. Especially after Harry Kane picked up a knock against Iran. Kane was cleared after a scan, but it’s hard to see why he started if still recovering.
As England prepare for Wales, Southgate needs to place confidence in those who are hungry to play. Specifically, Callum Wilson, James Maddison, Phil Foden, and Trent Alexander-Arnold should all start.
Southgate worries about cohesion and philosophy, but these are top professionals. If they aren’t good enough to do the job, why are they in Qatar?
Photo credit: IMAGO / PA Images
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