USMNT / World / World Cup

USA v. England, a closer look

With a little more perspective, and having watched the game for a second time, there is a lot that we can learn from the USA v. England match. The English goal was worrisome because it looked like the US defense had been carved up easily. However, on closer inspection it just looks like a great play by England.

Rooney noticed that the US central defenders were man marking him, so he stepped up. This pulled Onyewu out of position. Steven Gerrard didn’t look to be in the play but immediately went for the vacated space. Rooney missed a pass and Ricardo Clark paused momentarily thinking the US would recover the ball, but the ball continued right to Heskey. He was then able to one touch the ball to Gerrard before Demerit could get his foot in. You know the rest. The bottom line is that the English made a great play and Ricardo Clark didn’t play safe and get between Gerrard and the goal.

This is not the type of combination that is going to occur often, but hopefully Clark learned his lesson. As a whole the US defense was well organized and played well. They were strong in the air and didn’t give away many chances to the English. They should be able to shut out both the Slovenians and the Algerians with that sort of effort.

As a team the US showed patience and clever passing. Oddly, though the US played extremely compact and narrow, this seemed to make them vulnerable to long switches across the field, which the English didn’t take advantage of. Against the Slovenians and Algerians, they ought to be able to play more wide and open up some space for the attack.

It was nice to see that the US could keep possession in such a congested midfield. They should do better with a bit more width to their game. In addition they will be able to keep playing compact without worrying about getting burned with long balls.

The combination of Altidore and Findely looked dangerous. They combined well and almost pulled off some neat quick one-two passes. Findley also forced the English defense to drop back deep, which opened up some space for the Americans. His presence should do the same against the Algerians and Slovenians. Altidore will also probably be more influential. I suspect they will combine together more effectively against weaker opposition. Findley looked good in the air and in holding the ball up, which is rare for a shorter forward.

Having Clint Dempsey cheat centrally proved very effective against England. Although it created space on the left side for England to exploit, it overloaded the center of the pitch and put Dempsey in a position to score, which he did. If he can shake off Steven Gerrard, then I suspect he will find success against the Slovenians and Algerians. Beyond that Donovan and Dempsey switched sides during the match which also helped to keep the English from man marking them effectively. This will be a useful strategy going forward.

The US showed that they are dangerous on set pieces. This is especially important against well organized defensive minded teams like Slovenia.

Beyond that, the US showed their mettle to stay patient and play their game even after going a goal down so early. That quality alone means the team won’t fall apart, and will fight the whole game. That’s the spirit we need because you never know what might happen in soccer.

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