After a little programming break on Tuesday, the U.S. soccer team will resume its familiar role on the international scene when it faces England in Al Khor, Qatar, on Friday: a major underdog at the World Cup.
Perhaps this is a good thing for the United States, who are coming off an unsatisfying 1-1 tie with Wales on Monday in the first of their three Group B matches, earning only one point instead of three.
Although the United States, ranked 16th in the world, was not a large favorite versus Wales, ranked 19th, it could not handle success well after a solid first half. Prior to appearing less fit in the final 45 minutes, the United States had created a 1-0 lead.
The U.S. was outmanoeuvred by Wales in the second half, playing to protect the advantage instead of maintaining its aggressive strategy from the first half, and Wales had the U.S. on the defensive for the remainder of the match. Honestly, the United States was fortunate not to lose the match.
The draw with Wales placed the United States in a dangerous position, requiring a victory versus either England or Iran to almost certainly advance to the round of 16. At least four points are required for advancement.
England, rated fifth in the world, defeated Iran 6-2 in its Group B opener and appeared dominant in doing so.
“They are likely among the favorites to win the World Cup,” said U.S. captain Tyler Adams. We recognize that we are likely underdogs.
Adams can remove the word “probably” from both sentences.
The U.S. team, which is the second-youngest team in this World Cup and seems to enjoy its underdog status, has a youthful bravado, however.
Tim Weah, the U.S. forward who scored against Wales, stated, “We’ve always been the underdog in the eyes of America.” They question whether or not we know how to play football. And I believe it’s time for us to prove to the world that we can compete with and beat the best.”
Some of the so-called “best” teams in this World Cup have already fallen to underdogs. 51st-ranked Saudi Arabia stunned No. 3 Argentina, and 24th-ranked Japan defeated No. 11 Germany.
Do not assume that these outcomes are not on the minds of the upstart Americans, who are in a “why not us?” mindset.
Another reason in favor of the U.S. team is the fact that so many of its players are Premier League contemporaries and, in some cases, club teammates of the England players.
Christian Pulisic, the best American player, is a Chelsea player. Matt Turner is a goalkeeper for Arsenal. Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson are both defenders for Fulham. Brenden Aaronson, a midfielder, also plays for Leeds United. Josh Sargent is a forward for Norwich City.
Yunus Musah was born in New York City but raised in London, where he participated in Arsenal’s youth system and led England’s under-18 squad. Like Musah, American defender Cameron Carter-Vickers was born in England and was eligible to play for either England or the United States.
All of this diminishes the intimidation factor, assuming there is one. The United States will begin the match fearless. Simply play better than they did against Wales in order to obtain a positive result.
Adams stated, “We’ve always carried a chip on our shoulder.” “Playing against many of those players week after week gives you some familiarity heading into the game.”
A victory would practically assure the United States a spot in the round of 16 as one of the top 16 teams in contention to win the tournament. Even while a draw would provide the United States with a significant morale boost, they would still need to defeat Iran in their last Group B match on Tuesday.
Turner, a native of New Jersey who played for Fairfield University, stated, “It will be a significant test.” “In many ways, the world of football is becoming more equal. I believe the message is, “You can beat anyone on any given day if you have a team that is committed to the same message.”
Clearly, England will approach the encounter apprehensive of the United States. England coach Gareth Southgate criticized his team for their “sloppy” play at the end of the encounter against Iran and warned that the United States will be going “full throttle” on Friday. Southgate has already informed his players that they will need to perform even better against the United States.
“They are a top nation with many top players who have played in the Premier League,” England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford stated.
Pickford then mentioned the World Cup upsets that had already occurred, when Argentina and Germany had been eliminated.
“This is what the World Cup is all about,” he remarked. “There will be unexpected occurrences.”