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The United States’ participation in this year’s World Cup hangs in the balance after a disappointing 1-1 draw against the Welsh. They now face their stiffest competition in the group when they come up against England this Friday.
Having come into the tournament without a win in their previous six games and following a disappointing Nations League campaign, the opinion had been that the 3 Lions maybe were there for the taking, but after their 6-2 demolition of the Iranians, England, who top the group after the first game, look to have found their form and have hit the ground running.
Although a defeat won’t technically see the Stars and Stripes exit the competition at the first hurdle, it will only make the job more difficult.
Fifty-six years since England last lifted the World Cup (their first and only triumph), the pressure of a nation is always on the English to go deep into the competition, having reached the Semi-Final 4 years ago in Russia and the Final last year European Championships suggests that they have the pedigree to do so again.
This will be the third time the US has faced England in the World Cup, which 72 years ago saw one of the biggest upsets in the history of the competition. Let’s dial back to 1950 when the US national team (a team full of amateurs at the time) beat the then tournament favorites, England; Joe Gaetjens, a New York dishwasher writing himself into US soccer folklore history with the only goal of the game.
And let’s not forget that calamitous Rob Green goalkeeping error for the English in the 2010 South African contests, which saw the US win the group after a hard-fought 1-1 draw (a victory for the US) against a star-studded England team. Clint Dempsey with the goal that canceled out Steven Gerrard’s opener. As an Englishman and witness to yet another hugely disappointing World Cup performance, I still blame those annoying vuvuzelas.
So with no dishwashers in the team and no vuvuzelas to upset the balance, how can Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic, and the rest of the US team maintain their unbeaten record against England in world cups and pull off what would at this stage be considered another unlikely victory?
Inspiration can be taken from this year’s first and possibly one of the greatest World Cup upsets of all time, Saudi Arabia’s incredible and unlikely 2-1 defeat of Lionel Messi’s Argentina.
But… It may be even simpler than that, not just because the US is better than Saudi Arabia, but a lot better! England is strong, very strong in midfield along with their attacking options, Rice, Grealish, Foden, Saka, Sterling, and Kane, all big names in the Premier League, all stars for their respective clubs… It’s going to be tough for the red, white, and blue, real tough.
All hope is not lost, and as I said, the US are a good side; they have players playing across the Premier League and Europe’s top sides, and it’s no secret where England’s weakness lies.
The center of England’s defense holds the key to a US victory; once the rock (but now it’s Kryptonite), out of favor with his club, out of form and inconsistent, Harry Maguire unlocks the door to a US victory, target old ‘Slab-Head’ himself, put the big man under pressure and maybe just maybe the US will be celebrating another World Cup victory against an old foe this Black Friday…
But… it’s not going to happen, is it?
Come on, ENGLAND!” It’s coming home; it’s coming home, it’s coming, football’s coming home …”
Prediction: USA 1 England 3