Jude Bellingham is a 19-year-old mdifielder who plays club soccer for Germany’s Borussia Dortmund. He is valued in the transfer market at $104 million and will be the subject this summer of a massive struggle to secure his services among the biggest clubs in England. Yunus Musah is a 19-year-old midfielder for Spain’s Valencia. He is valued at $21 million.
Whom did you notice more when England played the United States men’s national team at the World Cup?
Christian Pulisic is a forward at Chelsea Football Club in London who has been with the team since 2019 but has struggled lately to get playing time. Raheem Sterling joined Chelsea this past summer from Manchester City and is an automatic starter for the Blues.
Whom did you notice more in the England vs. USA game?
That match was a loud, profound declaration from those who play American men’s soccer for all those who follow the team passionately and those millions who tuned into this Black Friday telecast because it is the World Cup and because it was USA-England.
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England entered this game, this tournament, as one of the favorites to win the World Cup. Former Three Lions star Wayne Rooney, a head coach in Major League Soccer, suggested his side would win by four goals. The USMNT arrived in Qatar hoping, as ever, to perform well enough in group play to advance to the knockout rounds and see how long they could avoid getting knocked out.
That was the technicality of the tournament stakes, and it was extraordinarily important. There was more to this, however. The Americans wanted to show they belonged. None of them who entered the field at Al Bayt Stadium ever had played in a World Cup before this year. Most of England’s regulars had not only been in one, they traveled all the way to the semifinals in 2018 and to the Euro 2021 final last summer.
Which team did you notice more between the two?
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Plenty of positives for USMNT in scoreless draw
If the final score of England 0, United States 0 suggests nothing happened, that only can be true for those who did not watch the urgent American effort that led to their second draw of this tournament. It positioned them nicely to advance to the Round of 16 if they can put together a similar performance Tuesday, in the final Group B game against Iran.
“Anytime you can get a shutout at the World Cup, it’s a good thing,” USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter told Fox Sports. “We’re proud, but our work’s not done. We have to win on Tuesday. We know five points gets us in. We have to focus on the five points.”
In every daring, incisive move from Pulisic — and every time in the second half he waved to the nearby American fans to create some noise as he prepared for a corner kick — it was evident how much he wanted to show the Chelsea management that has deemphasized him that he retains the skill and soccer intelligence that made him a Champions League hero only 18 months ago, before his playing time dwindled.
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In every keenly timed intervention in front of the goal the U.S. defended — which included a block of a first-half Harry Kane shot that was certain to find the back of the net — defender Walker Zimmerman announced that his mistake against Wales, which led to the opponent’s only goal in that game, was not to be repeated.
In every deft touch on the ball when playing with his feet — and on the superb save late in the first half against England’s Mason Mount — goalkeeper Matt Turner showed the USMNT, indeed, have a legitimate No. 1.
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And in every strategic decision he made, even the ones questioned in advance of the game and probably some that will be doubted after, U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter insisted he could organize and deploy a successful national team.
Berhalter almost dared his many critics to attack in advance of the game, making three questionable decisions in his starting lineup and one that was downright stunning.
Three of the starters from the 1-1 draw Monday against Wales were again sent out as starters: forward Tim Weah, right back Sergino Dest and midfielder Weston McKennie. Only Dest does not have an obvious and nearly equivalent replacement.
If Dest does not play, it’s either declining veteran DeAndre Yedlin or untested teenager Joe Scally. With Weah, though, Gio Reyna easily could be installed in his position. He does not have the same speed, but might be a more skilled player and is viewed by many as the most talented player in the U.S. squad. McKennie could have been replaced by Brenden Aaronson, who rarely has failed to excel when given an opportunity.
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It was a new-look USMNT vs. England
The surprise entrant to the starting lineup was striker Haji Wright, a 6-foot-3, 176-pound target who has long been a close friend of American star Christian Pulisic, dating to their time together in U.S. youth national teams, and a former teammate of McKennie’s in Germany’s Bundesliga. At 24, he had made only four national team appearances and scored a single goal. He provided more height and potential to pursue high crosses than 6-foot-1 Josh Sargent did against Wales, or than 5-foot-9 Jesus Ferreira might have.
That was not the only change Berhalter made, though. He chose to align the USMNT in more of a 4-4-2 formation, with Wright as the lead forward and Weah playing just behind him, Pulisic dropping into a midfield role and McKennie sliding over from the center of the midfield to the right.
This setup helped the U.S. generate more than its share of significant scoring chances in the first half, with a slightly higher number in the expected goals category (.43 to .36) despite trailing significantly in possession of the ball. Pulisic hit the woodwork, and an earlier McKennie volley attempt directly in front of goal missed the target.
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The second half featured fewer true U.S. opportunities but a sense of command few might have expected. The Americans attempted seven corner kicks to England’s three. And Pulisic played consistently better balls into the box, forcing Three Lions defender Harry Maguire to assure none became a true scoring opportunity.
Aside from Mount’s shot, the one true chance England had came just before the end, in added time, when a foolish foul by Musah led to a free kick. Kane got his head to the ball played into the box, but the pressure applied by central defender Tim Ream led Kane to head wide of the goal what had seemed like a great chance.
“I don’t think we’re really disappointed. We knew that we would come out here and put up a fight,” McKennie said. “As you guys could see, we felt it, I think the fans felt it — we were all in. We held the ball really well. I think we had the majorities of the chances. We were dangerous. We just couldn’t get it in the back of the net.
“Obviously, our goal is to play our best. And I think that’s what we did.”