USA vs England

June 13, 2010

Some thoughts on last night’s match between the USA and England. Not a very satisfying experience for England fans, nor really for the neutral, who saw a fairly stodgy game rarely illuminated by real quality. Some plus points for England:

– Emile Heskey played well, using his size and strength to unsettle a strong American defence. Missed a good chance or two, but was always available and worked hard.

– Steven Gerrard as captain – seemed to show commitment that has in the past been lacking, great goal and lots of good defensive work as well. Much more effective than midfield counterpart Frank Lampard, who was poor.

– Glen Johnson, not bad performance, good attacking thrust and could have scored. Didn’t make many mistakes in defence.

…and then a host of negatives; Rooney was awful, with a clumsy touch and seeming to be struggling for fitness (altitude perhaps?). Ashley Cole made mistakes, Carragher came on for Ledley King and was frequently outpaced, Lennon and Wright Phillips were consistently predictable (and their crossing was no better than Walcott’s would have been), Lampard was anonymous and his ball striking was off…and Robert Green spilled a simple shot into his own net.

If this is how England mean to go on, 2010 will be a typical World Cup performance: lack of fluency in the group stages leading to a couple of nervous knockout games and a flight home in, if not disgrace, then certainly not triumph.

The United States should qualify easily, perhaps as group winners if England can’t put away their chances against Algeria and Slovenia, and they look like a competent side. They lack quality, with even Landon Donovan failing to shine last night, but possess stamina and a solid looking defence, with a decent team ethic. They certainly didn’t seem technically inferior to England, as both teams struggled to control the ball and string passing moves together.

Anyway, that’s my impression. I hope Robert Green is not villified for his mistake, which after all, England’s best goalkeepers have been specialising in for decades. These things happen. It would have been an unfortunate sideshow if England had taken their chances, which they dismally failed to do.

Lots of work to do yet then.

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