The USMNT played well against England. Will it regret the result?

The USMNT had the better of the game, but was unable to find a breakthrough goal

AL-RAYYAN, Qatar – Earning respect is one thing. Inspiring fear is quite another.That’s one of the sobering lessons the U.S. men’s national team is learning during the first World Cup experience for all but one member of its 26-player squad. By broad acclaim of opponents and pundits alike, the young Yanks have on balance been the better side in their meetings with Wales and England, yet still find themselves in a win-or-else situation in their Group B finale against Iran on Tuesday.“They were good. I thought they made it difficult, as we knew they would,” said Three Lions and Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson after Friday’s 0-0 draw with England, where the United States bossed the majority of play and were superior in terms of expected goals. “They have some good players in the team, well-organized, make it very difficult and created some half-chances as well.”All that said, the USMNT have now played 34 World Cup games in their history. They’ve won just eight of them. England, on the other hand, have 29 wins all time. It remains to be seen whether the U.S. will regret their lack of ruthlessness thus far in Qatar.“Yeah, it’s obviously a different beast when you get to a big tournament like this,” admitted striker Josh Sargent postgame on Friday. “So definitely you’ve got to learn how to close out games.”Coach Gregg Berhalter, himself a World Cup veteran twice over, has spoken of the stiff difficulty of both scoring goals and winning matches in this competition. On first blush that might sound bleedingly obvious, yet Friday’s encounter with the 2018 semifinalists and Euro 2020 runners-up was a vivid case in point.“It’s definitely mixed emotions,” said USMNT left back Antonee “Jedi” Robinson. “I’d say it feels a little bit better to draw this game than the Wales game, because I feel like we should have won that one. This game, I feel like it was a pretty even battle, any team could have come away feeling like they should have won the game.“We feel a little bit hard done by, but a clean sheet against a top side is nothing to be upset about. And now we get to go into the last game with it all in our hands.”

Credit: Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

History offers a mixed bag on this front. The USMNT also drew their first two games at South Africa 2010. They were a bit lucky that Rob Green’s howler helped them snatch a 1-1 draw against England but felt brutally wronged after the 2-2 draw with Slovenia, where a late Maurice Edu goal was waved off by a baffling refereeing decision. They wound up group winners, however, when Landon Donovan’s memorable late winner versus Algeria took them to five points from three matches.It was a different story in Germany four years prior, where a hard-earned draw with eventual champions Italy kept the U.S. in contention heading into their third game against Ghana after an opening defeat at the hands of the Czech Republic. But the Black Stars expertly exploited American mistakes for a 2-1 win that ended the USMNT’s tournament early.“Every play matters [in the] World Cup. You’ve got to be focused, and every single play can have a potential outcome on the game,” said Berhalter after Gareth Bale earned, then dispatched a late penalty kick to peg back the Yanks on Monday. “It’s a high level that we’re playing in, really high intensity.”As was so often the case during qualifying, the USMNT created a respectable proportion of decent scoring chances, only to spurn them repeatedly, with the absence of a dependable finisher at the No. 9 position still a nagging concern.As Bale’s moment of magic reminded them, games are often won and lost inside the penalty boxes. Those small details could determine whether they produce the necessary win over Iran, or have to settle for moral victories as they jet home early.“You’ve got to score to really [not] let them off the hook,” said Berhalter after the England draw. “We had a lot of close opportunities. We played well, I think we showed what type of team we are, what we’re capable of. But it’s also difficult for me to say that we should have won the game, because you need to score to win the game and we didn’t do that.”

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How Berhalter outwitted Southgate in USMNT draw vs England

Some clever tactical tweaks helped the USMNT control much of the game in a 0-0 draw

AL KHOR, Qatar – While they’ve cooled things off for a while as they compete head-to-head at the World Cup, Gregg Berhalter and Gareth Southgate have developed a friendship in recent years, sharing ideas and fellowship as they implement youth-driven overhauls of their respective national teams.“I’ve enjoyed my interactions with Gregg,” Southgate told reporters the day before his England side faced off against Berhalter’s United States in their Group B clash at Al-Bayt Stadium. “Over the last few years I’ve learned a lot from him.”At the time that sounded mostly like politeness. Southgate led the Three Lions to the semifinal of World Cup 2018 and the final of Euro 2020, and they currently sit fifth in the FIFA World Rankings. Berhalter’s Gold Cup and Concacaf Nations League titles just don’t hold quite the same cachet for most observers.Berhalter doesn’t seem like the sort to rub it in his face. But next time they link up out of range of the cameras and microphones, Southgate might just have to admit he got a lesson from his North American mate in the Qatari desert on Friday.Berhalter made several tactical tweaks that blunted the threat posed by England’s talent-laden XI, starting with targeted pressing and an unexpected move to a 4-4-2 formation while defending. Christian Pulisic paired up top with surprise starter Haji Wright ahead of a mostly flat midfield shape with Tyler Adams and Yunus Musah central and Weston McKennie flared out to one flank while Tim Weah manned the other.“Obviously it worked,” said McKennie, one of his side’s top performers in a scoreless draw. “You guys saw, we had the ball often, they weren’t able to really break through so many times, I don’t think we gave them a lot of chances to get in behind and to get goalscoring opportunities. And it worked for us as well, we were able to break them down, have space out wide.”

(AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

It continued with a number of subtle shape shifts as the game played out, keeping the English side guessing.“We wanted to highlight our defensive shape that would change from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3. If we did that, effectively, we wanted to hit them in transition, offensive transition, and we think we gave them some problems in that,” explained Berhalter in his postgame press conference.“We wanted to make it compact. We want to work from a compact block in the beginning of the game. And throughout the game, we switched it up a little bit just to keep giving them different looks. And give them credit, they kept adapting as well. They moved from, four on one to four on two to three on one and it was a handful for us, for sure.”The tweaks unsettled England, as the flowing moves forward that tore Iran apart occurred only in fits and starts. A managerial game of cat and mouse unfolded over the course of the match, and by the final whistle both the statistical data and the general run of play favored the USMNT.“It was a really tough opponent. They defended incredibly well,” said Southgate after his side were largely outplayed and out-thought in a game that boosts U.S. confidence ahead of a must-win against Iran. “To come off the high of the performance the other day [a 6-2 win over Iran] and find that same energy, level of quality, was always going to be a challenge. Their front six make it so difficult to play through and get at their defense.”

Adams claimed that he and his teammates weren’t informed of the shape shift until the day before the match. The organization and fluidity with which they executed the plan — and the details shared by their coach — stretched the credibility of that statement, however.

(Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

“That was something that we saw with their defending in the last game and we wanted to key in on it. Basically triple-stacking the right side of the field, Serge [Sergiño Dest] getting the ball, being able to bypass his defender to find Weston free and then [English left back] Luke Shaw would have a decision to make,” Adams said.“He’s either going to leave Timmy [Weah] and release to Weston or he’s going get held by Timmy, and that was a focus of ours. So glad to see that. England did that a little bit in the second half with Mason Mount also popping wide, and it’s difficult to deal with. You’ve got to be smart about it. You got to understand when to pressure, when not to pressure, but it definitely put us in some good positions to continue advancing the attack.”Southgate shared a glimpse of his side of the chess match, which leaves both squads in need of a positive result on Group B’s final matchday in order to move on to the round of 16.“We didn’t quite get our pressure right. [Yunus] Musah was dropping low and we got a little bit stretched without the ball, and McKennie pulling a little bit wider caused us a bit of a problem, which we needed to resolve at halftime,” he said. “So we needed to be more aggressive on our pressure, bit more compact as a team. Obviously Pulisic comes into clever areas with [Antonee] Robinson going outside him as well. So there’s lots of questions for the players to answer within the game.”

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Musah: Today the whole world saw the USMNT can do big things

The U.S. impressed in a draw against England, causing plenty of problems for its vaunted opponent

Yunus Musah was proud of the U.S. national team’s effort in a scoreless draw with England at the World Cup, saying his team showed the world that they “can do big things.”

Musah and his teammates put in a strong performance against one of the pre-tournament favorites, only lacking a final touch in a match it could have easily won.

The Valencia midfielder spent much of his life in England and came up through the country’s youth international setup before making the switch over to the U.S.

Facing some of his former teammates with England and the Arsenal academy, Musah was part of a midfield that controlled much of the match, outplaying some of the Premier League’s biggest names.

“I feel like the team played really well today and showed how good they are. Most of them play in great teams, high level. And I felt like today the whole world will see that the U.S. can do big things,” Musah told reporters.

“But I guess time will tell. You can’t just do it for one game, you have to be consistent.”

With some of the USMNT’s top players featuring for big clubs in Europe, Musah believes the team’s ascent is not going unnoticed with fans back home.

“I know that the audience back home supports us so much,” Musah said. “And as you can see in the U.S., football is growing a lot. A lot of us are playing in Europe, they see big stars — Christian [Pulisic] for example — and it’s just nice to inspire the future generations.

“This World Cup is going to be there forever. And future generations are going to watch this and want to be like us. So now I’m very grateful for the place I’m in right now to be doing that.”

The USMNT will close out Group B with a game against Iran on Tuesday, needing no less than a win to advance to the last 16.

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McKennie: It sucks we couldn’t score against England

The midfielder was happy with his team’s display but knew they left some chances on the table

Weston McKennie was proud of the U.S. national team’s display in a 0-0 draw against England on Friday, but admitted it “sucks” that his team was unable to find a winner.

The USMNT controlled much of the game against vaunted opposition, going toe to toe with a team many consider to be among the World Cup favorites.

But Gregg Berhalter’s men were unable to find a winner, and now go into their final group-stage game knowing only a win against Iran will get them into the last 16.

Despite playing an overall excellent game, McKennie was one of the guiltiest parties when he missed an excellent chance to score the opener in the first half.

Speaking to Fox Sports after the game, the midfielder said his team couldn’t be disappointed with their performance, but conceded that they did leave some chances on the table.

“I don’t think we’re really disappointed. I think we knew that we would come out here and put up a fight. And as you guys could see, I think we felt it, I think the fans felt it,” McKennie said.

“We were all in, we held the ball really well. I think we had the majority of the chances. We were more dangerous and it just sucks we couldn’t get it in the back of the net. But obviously our goal is to try and play our best. And I think that’s what we did.

“That was the one thing that was missing, just putting the ball in the back of the net. The final passes were there. But unlucky and we take away the point. The most important thing is that it’s in our hands.”

The USMNT will move on to its final group stage game on Tuesday, where it will face an Iran side that lost its opener 6-2 to England before stunning Wales with a 2-0 victory on Friday.

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USMNT beats England 0-0, still has it all to do against Iran

It was an outstanding display for the USMNT, but it will still all come down to Tuesday’s game versus Iran

The U.S. men’s national team put in an outstanding performance against England, proving they can go toe-to-toe against one of the tournament favorites on the biggest stage.

And yet, after a 0-0 draw, the U.S. faces a stark reality: They’ll be going home after the group stage if they don’t beat Iran on Tuesday.

Gregg Berhalter’s men will be able to take plenty from their performance though, as they made an England side that looked unstoppable in its opener look pedestrian.

After a shaky opening 10 minutes or so, which saw Walker Zimmerman save a sure goal with a crucial block on Harry Kane, the USMNT grew into the game against its vaunted opponent.

Berhalter changed his setup from the opening draw against Wales, shifting to a 4-4-2 that reduced the team’s central midfield presence but gave them an additional attacker up top that seemed to work to their benefit.

As the match entered the break scoreless, the USMNT would have felt it should have been in front. McKennie was the guiltiest party, wasting an open look off a half-volley that he could only sky over Jordan Pickford’s goal.

But McKennie was still one of the standout performers for the U.S., driving forward with confidence and helping set up a chance that Christian Pulisic drove off the crossbar 32 minutes in.

The U.S continued to pressure England in the second half, but was unable to make Jordan Pickford work much. Matt Turner had similarly few difficult saves to make.

Both Berhalter and Gareth Southgate were reluctant to ring the changes, with the latter knowing his side was almost certainly through despite a draw that would earn plenty of criticism back home.

Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish did eventually enter for England, while Berhalter was a bit slower to bring on the likes of Brenden Aaronson, Gio Reyna and Josh Sargent as the U.S. looked for a winner.

But in truth, neither side came close to scoring in the second half. With one goal and three good halves out of four at this World Cup so far, the USMNT will need to convert their displays into more goals against Iran.

If not, their strong performance against England will be just another example of what could have been.

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USMNT lineup vs. England: Wright for Sargent the only change from Wales

Gregg Berhalter has opted for continuity in his team’s second World Cup game

The U.S. men’s national team has unveiled its lineup for a Black Friday showdown against England, and Gregg Berhalter has opted not to rock the boat.

Berhalter named 10 of the same starters that began the team’s opener against Wales, with Haji Wright starting in place of Josh Sargent in the only change.

Three U.S. starters enter the game having picked up yellow cards against Wales: Weston McKennie, Sergiño Dest and Tim Ream, with Kellyn Acosta also drawing a yellow late in the game.

Should any of those four pick up a yellow card against England, they would be suspended for Tuesday’s group finale against Iran.

For England, Gareth Southgate has named an unchanged team from a 6-2 win against Iran to open the tournament. Star forward Harry Kane passed a late fitness test after a slight injury scare with his ankle.

USMNT lineup vs England

Turner; Dest, Zimmerman, Ream, Robinson; Adams, Musah, McKennie; Weah, Sargent, Pulisic

England lineup: Pickford; Trippier, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Bellingham; Saka, Mount, Sterling; Kane.

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Did the USMNT forget how to counterattack?

The USMNT’s counter was lacking against Wales. It can’t afford a repeat against England

AL-RAYYAN, Qatar – For United States soccer watchers of a certain age, some of the counterattacks are burned into the memory.Landon Donovan’s header on an Eddie Lewis cross to clinch the round-of-16 win over Mexico in the 2002 World Cup. Or his iconic 90th-minute game (and group) winner vs. Algeria in South Africa eight years later. The lightning-quick move finished by Clint Dempsey in the shocking 2-0 upset of Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup. Gregg Berhalter himself was part of many of those sides.The U.S. men’s national team rose into the international consciousness this century in large part via effective transition play. Speed, organized team shape and opportunistic forays forward helped the Yanks punch above their weight, and earned them a reputation for ruthlessness within their region.Jurgen Klinsmann was hired to lead the program after the limitations of that style became more evident, and Berhalter’s meticulous possession system was intended to reinvigorate that evolution after the disastrous 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign. Eventually, the thinking went, a more sophisticated game model would enable the USMNT to go toe to toe with the global elite.But watching the U.S. tease open big gaps as Wales took more risks — only to fail again and again to take advantage of those transition moments to double their lead on Monday — raised the question:Did the USMNT forget how to counterattack?“When we won the ball in midfield and counterattacked, our decision making in the final third, that final pass just wasn’t quite there,” said center back Tim Ream after the frustrating 1-1 draw. “At the end of the day, when you have those opportunities and you don’t take advantage, you leave yourself a little bit susceptible. It’s disappointing.”Christian Pulisic and Brenden Aaronson probably had the most chances to play incisive through balls to runners, often missing the timing or electing to keep possession and wait for numbers to arrive. Was it just a few subtle details missed on a nerve-jangling first night on this massive stage, or a soft spot in the team’s tactical toolkit?“Listen, in a game like this it’s hard, because you’re 1-0 up, you don’t know if you should come back, you should go more forward, keep playing the way you’re playing,” said Aaronson. “It’s just tough in the moment.”

Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday Pro Soccer Wire caught up with one of the chief architects of those USMNT teams of old, DaMarcus Beasley, who has arrived in Doha to serve as an ambassador for Major League Soccer and also join Fox’s broadcast coverage. He noticed those missed opportunities to counter against Wales, yet gives this highly talented group the benefit of the doubt, particularly after their high-intensity control of the first half.“Christian had the ball a couple of times where you thought he was going, it was somewhat of a counterattack, but kind of slowed it down and brought it back and was more a bit more conservative. But if that’s the way that Gregg wants me to play, that’s what it is,” said the retired winger. “In the second half, there were a lot more chances because the game opened up. But I just think it didn’t happen. I just think that we weren’t as clinical and as clean in the final third as we could have been.“I give them a lot of credit … this is their first World Cup, you have to take that into account, and I know they put a lot into that first 45 minutes. I think that’s why they died a bit in the second half.”Friday’s clash with England promises to force the Americans to focus more on transitions, at least if they want to trouble the early Group B leaders and popular picks to win the tournament. Carrying huge momentum from their 6-2 disassembling of Iran, the Three Lions are expected to dominate the ball and could leave space in behind their often-adventurous fullbacks.“In any of these games, there’s going to be ebbs and flows. And for a large part of the first half, we were on top,” said Berhalter after the Wales draw. “But we knew there was going to be a moment where Wales were going to change their tactics, they were going to be more aggressive and they were going to throw caution to the wind. So, we knew that was going to be part of it. The message was ‘keep going’ at halftime. We made a couple of little adjustments that we thought could help us.“But there were times where we were on the back foot; that’s completely normal at this level.”Controlling the tempo of the match to guard against Welsh breakouts was obviously a priority on Monday. Now will Berhalter adjust his approach in light of the overwhelming wealth of talent on an England side he’s repeatedly called “a billion-dollar squad”?He could drop the line of confrontation to pack numbers around the likes of Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling, or lean into his own team’s pressing abilities and let them push high to disrupt the favorites.

Whatever the case, being swift and clinical with any final-third openings that present themselves will be essential. As goalkeeper Matt Turner said after the Wales game, the U.S. won’t have any margin of error when it comes to taking advantage of chances to break against England.

“We missed some opportunities in transition against Wales in the second half,” Turner said. “I think we had chances where we just weren’t particularly clean in the final third, maybe a pass was a little off or the timing was wrong. And it took away the small windows that you have in a World Cup where the margins are so thin to score a goal.

“So I think we know that we’re going to have to be better in transition against England if we want to score goals. And yeah, I think we’ve learned a lot.”

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Uh oh, Harry Kane needs a scan on his ankle

The star forward went down with an injury against Iran, though he managed to stay in the game

Englqnd thumped Iran 6-2 to open the World Cup on Monday, but they may not have emerged entirely unscathed.

Harry Kane went down in the second half after a heavy challenge from Morteza Pouraliganji. He was treated on the field and was able to continue playing before being withdrawn later in the half.

But the star forward was seen limping after the game and on Tuesday, The Athletic reported that Kane was set to go in for a scan on his ankle.

England manager Gareth Southgate didn’t sound too worried about his star forward following Monday’s game saying: “I think Harry’s fine. It looked a bad tackle but he carried on in the game.

“We took him off really because we felt it was a moment we could do that.”

But any issue that comes up in the scan could see Kane miss out on England’s next game in Group B, a high-profile showdown against the United States on Friday.

Kane’s absence would be a boost for the USMNT, which will be looking for a result after starting its World Cup campaign with a 1-1 draw against Wales on Monday.

But even without Kane finding the net, the Three Lions showed they have plenty of firepower against Iran, with Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish all scoring.

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England reminds Group B rivals they are all playing for second place

The Three Lions destroyed Iran 6-2 in their World Cup opener

England made a major statement in its World Cup opener, hammering Iran 6-2 to lay down a marker in Group B.

The Three Lions were always favored to finish atop a group that also includes the U.S. and Wales, but the emphatic nature of their win on Monday underlined their status as the class of their World Cup group.

It was England’s young stars who shined the brightest at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, with 19-year-old Jude Bellingham opening the scoring with a header before 21-year-old Bukayo Saka scored a brace in his first World Cup game.

After reaching the semifinal of the 2018 World Cup and the final of Euro 2020, England entered the 2022 World Cup as one of the favorites and its performance against an overwhelmed Iranian side did nothing to dispel that notion.

Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford would also get on the scoresheet in a comprehensive win.

The only downside for England came in the second half, when defender Harry Maguire was forced off with a suspected head injury.

But the four-goal margin of victory set England on course to finish atop Group B, with goal differential as the first tiebreaker. Next up for the Three Lions is a showdown with the USMNT on Friday, which will be followed by a match against Wales on November 29.

Watch Bellingham and Saka’s goals vs. Iran

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Reece James will miss the World Cup in a major blow to England

The right back had started the season in fantastic form with Chelsea

England right back Reece James has confirmed that he will miss the World Cup due to a knee injury he suffered last month in a Champions League match with Chelsea.

Following a diagnosis that said he’d be out for eight weeks, James always appeared to be a longshot for the England roster but the right back held out some hope of a quick recovery.

But amid reports that Gareth Southgate had left James off his 26-man squad, the 22-year-old came out himself and confirmed he would not be heading to Qatar.

On his Twitter account, James said: ”Devastated. The minute I injured my knee, I knew the turnaround to make the World Cup would be tight, but I always felt it was possible. I’ve worked harder than I ever thought I could to give myself the best chance of going and I truly believed I could help the team. I appreciate there was risk on both sides but it was one I was willing to take. Good luck to the boys. I’ll be back soon. Stay safe & sending love.”

The injury is a blow for England, which will be looking to qualify out of Group B along with the United States, Wales and Iran. James had started the season well with Chelsea and looked likely to start for the Three Lions at the World Cup.

With James out, Kyle Walker would appear to be the likely starting right back but the Man City defender is working his way back from groin surgery and his status is unknown.

James is the second Chelsea fullback to be ruled out of England’s World Cup squad recently, as Ben Chilwell was also diagnosed with a serious hamstring injury over the weekend.

England will begin the World Cup on November 21 against Iran before a highly anticipated showdown with the USMNT four days later on Black Friday.

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