Sunday, June 13, 2010

USA vs England Review

                                (Photo Courtesy of Soccernet/PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

That pretty much sums it up right there. They're probably just as shocked as the rest of the world was after an absolutely pathetic display from England on Saturday evening. Worst so far? Perhaps not as that award probably goes to Greece and Australia. But everyone will be talking about the big game in Rustenburg between the Brits and the Yanks.

Surely not a game for the purists. To be honest the game was rather dreadful. Ambitious long balls, sloppy possession, and very sloppy final balls. England's goal within 5 minutes immediately exposed the weakness for the United States in Onyewu who completely lost sight of his man. But it also spelled doom...for England's chances of scoring again. Sitting back into a defensive shell allowed the US to build some confidence which climaxed with Dempsey's goal just before halftime. It's a game of luck - plain and simple. And the United States got lucky tonight with an absolute HOWLER from Robert Green. However, let's fault England a bit here for giving the Americans so many chances to try our luck from far out. It's not heady defending to allow so much space to your opponents to rifle off shots on a suspect keeper with a ball that supposedly moves quicker in mid-air than Aladdin's magic carpet.

Second half was much much better for us. Great possession in the midfield which - let me cut myself off here while we're on the topic. Man of the match for the United States was Michael Bradley. He dominated the midfield in the second half completely neutralizing Gerrard and Lampard who, again, sat back too deep and couldn't find a way to play well together. Bradley defended, collected, held the ball, waited for the right pass to get the offense moving. Everything moved through him and it was a world class effort on his part.  O what an opportunity for Altidore!! Green redeemed himself with a fine save and got some help from the post. But Jozy's first real threat of the evening showed everything he brings - speed and power. We need to see more of it moving forward.

What can we take away from this?  Well lets start with the less promising. England are no good. They were no good coming into this tournament and it's the same story. The goalkeeping is horrendous. Ledley King is now most likely out for the rest of the tournament. Carragher is a sub-par, washed up replacement for him. Starting James Milner was a joke and hopefully Joe Cole will get an opportunity to add some width to an incredibly narrow minded offensive attack. Rooney was invisible, but mostly due to the inability of England's midfield to provide him service. And Heskey? Only Capello can tell you why he values the big striker so much. He doesn't deserve to be called a striker so let's say forward. Even that is iffy, since his job is to hold up the ball and pass away - not exactly forward moving.  England is much better than the other two teams left for them to play so they should have no problem advancing. But past that? Fat chance with this crew.

As for the US, we can take away a lot of positives from this game. Ugly, yes. But a point nonetheless. Ricardo Clark was a no-show in the midfield. Both Altidore and Findley failed to find a positive connection up front. However, as a team we defended valiantly and stayed very disciplined. Howard is a rock in the net and lets hope the cleat he took to the chest doesn't leave any lasting effects.  Donovan didn't get much of a chance to work that sideline but he surely will against the likes of Slovenia and Algeria. Cherundelo was incredible throughout the entire game and looked threatening pressing forward into the attack. Going forward, we should be able to brush off a flat display and come out firing against Slovenia on Friday. We are more than capable of beating them, and from the looks of things, it will be a MUST WIN if we want any chance of progressing.

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