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U.S. vs. England: The Match-Ups

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To their credit, the English are human beings. Smile at one and one may smile back at you. Or not. Just like the rest of us.

Fabio Capello, coach of England, is not a smiler. He’s more of a scowler. He is also one of the most successful coaches in the history of soccer. From the Invincibles at Milan to the incredible Juventus side, from turning Roma into champions, to twice winning the Spanish title with Real Madrid, every project he has undertaken has resulted in bringing home major silverware. More than players, the man from Northern Italy is England’s greatest asset.

For his part, Capello’s U.S. colleague, Bob Bradley, is in need of a good World Cup showing in order to quiet his critics. Bradley took the helm in January 2007 and has a 34-16-6 record including the victory over the number two team in the world, Spain.

U.S. Strengths
Coach Bradley has a team that is knows how to stay compact and when they hustle and scrap they can beat anyone, despite having a team with few names Euro-fans would recognize.

U.S. Weaknesses
Soccer is a game of creating opportunities and the U.S. struggles to generate goal-scoring chances. At the highest level, we’re talking about players who can do something like this.

The U.S. Big Men
Landon Donovan is vital to the team’s offense and in his stint with the English team, Everton, the 27-year-old showed he has what it takes to play at the highest level. Donovan, along with Clint Dempsey, are the two players who can create chances on the fly.

Tim Howard is a monster in goal. He plays for the Everton and is one of the best goalkeepers in the English Premier League. He shows up for big games and will need to continue to make game-saving stops if the U.S. is to move to advance.

With the U.S.' best defender Oguchi Onyewu recovering from a knee injury and a possible for the World Cup, fellow defender Carlos Bocanegra will be an essential part of shutting down England’s Wayne Rooney.

England’s Strengths
As with the U.S., tactics. Capello gets the best out of his best, and as they showed in their outstanding qualification run, they do not get caught on the counter-attack, the press for the ball constantly, and they do not suffer mental lapses.

England’s Weaknesses
Also similar to the U.S., England has not been able to create moments of creative magic when they are needed and they have minor weaknesses in every area which become apparent when playing against the best.

Main Men for England
Wayne Rooney is the modern striker: compact, highly skilled, boundless energy, fighting determination and a finishing touch, the English team is built around feeding Rooney. Watch the punishing, end-to-end runs Rooney will make on the break.

Steven Gerrard
has been giving a free role in midfield and has responded with relentless and attacking play.

John Terry had a season of self-created distractions and was shown to be the crude but usually well-placed defender he has always been. With first-pick Rio Ferdinand out with injuries and fellow defender Ashley Cole on the squad but recovering from a long injury-induced lay-off, defensive responsibilities rest on Terry’s shoulders.

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About Earl G. Lundquist

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Your prediction?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Dunno about Earl, but mine: England to win 2-0.

    The US should qualify for the knockout stages along with England, though.

    As to further progress, you never really know with either team. When the Americans play above themselves, as they did in the ’94 and ’02 World Cups and in the Confederations Cup two years ago, they’re capable of great things.

    England had an exemplary qualifying campaign and are certainly one of the favourites, but they’ve almost always underachieved in the big tournaments. I’m keeping my expectations cautiously low.

    Both England and the US often run aground in similar ways: a tendency to run out of ideas when up against competent opponents, and an apparent expectation that the way to overcome this problem is to pass the ball around aimlessly and hope the other team will oblige by stepping out of the way.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    …Kind of like the Celtics last night. :-)

  • zingzing

    while i think the us can win this game, i very much doubt they will. in order to win, we’ll need to score at least two goals (which is something we’ve struggled to do against far lesser opponents at times) and have a fantastic game on defense (which is probably not going to happen).

    i think we’ve proven that on our best days, we can take on the world’s best (on their off days). given the right circumstances (as in, having a great day and england coming out flat), we can win.

    remember spain. remember…

    i’ll say a 1-1 tie, just because i’m not going to say england will win.

    if we were to beat england and get through to the next round, that would be enough for me. of course, if we beat england, and come out on top of the group, that would be great, because then we’d avoid germany (in all likelihood) and we know england loves germany. beating england would certainly set a good tone.

    i say us gets to the second round, and if we don’t get germany there (and get… serbia? right?), we might even make it to the quarters again.

  • STM

    The US beat the Poms 1-0 in the 1950 world cup.

    Uruguay went on to win it that year, and the US got bundled out in the early stages. But they still beat the Poms.

    When 22 blokes are booting a bag of wind up and down a field for 90 minutes in the near-forlorn hope that someone might actually get it between the sticks (which is one of the reasons I’m not a true soccer fan), and even if 11 or more of them are going to be highly-skilled but hugely overpaid bogans with diamond earrings and Bentleys, anything can – and sometimes does – happen.

    Witness Australia’s game against Italy at the last world cup. Only a milked penalty won Italy the game in the dying stages.

    Neverthless, the smart money says a) The US likely won’t beat England and b) Germany will give Australia, one of the other so-called “minnows”, a flogging in their pool.

    But at this level, anything COULD happen.

    Which is why it’s worth watching, even if you’re not a genuine fan of the game.

    The Rugby World Cup’s better though :)

  • STM

    Poms = England, BTW, if anyone’s wondering.

  • Earl

    A lot of experts are predicting England will make it through to the semis if not farther: Grant Wahl, Sid Lowe, Marcotti, J. Wilson, Vickery, Grant Wahl, even Stan Collymore is weighing in with an England pick. Is this more of the usual English over-hype or is Capello the man to take the Golden Era boys to the highest level? Who will stop them?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Grant Wahl is apparently so convinced that England will win it all that he predicted them twice!

  • Earl

    Ah, haha. Indeed, Dr. He’s worth reading twice.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    And as for Australia, they’ve been drawn in an excruciatingly difficult group: Germany, Serbia and Ghana will all be formidable opponents. I don’t expect them to qualify, but they’ve got a useful squad with experience in the top European leagues and on their day, as with Team USA, you never know. If they can sneak a win and a draw and other results in the group go their way they might just make it.

    I’ll be cheering for them, along with England and (except for the first game) the US.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    #5

    I listened to those broadcasts (1950 World Cup). Uruguay’s victory was unexpected. It was a lopsided score, too, in the final, five to nothing, if memory serves.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Capello does, as you observed, Earl, seem to have the golden touch. He also doesn’t seem susceptible to one significant failing that a lot of past England coaches have had: what I call the “If I Could Pick the England Team I’d…” syndrome. Too often they’ve tended to pick the team based on star quality, rather than on how well eleven particular players play together.

    So we end up with Tom, who’s scored 30 goals for Cokehole United this season, at centre forward – the trouble is that he doesn’t have a particularly good connection with Dick and Harry on the wings. They interact far more effectively with the reserve striker, Pete… except Pete’s on the bench because he’s only started 15 games for his club all season.

    The other blunder we’ve seen too much of in the past is the constant tinkering with team selection and formation. The England XI never seems to be the same from one game to the next; we never have a settled line-up; and then we wonder why we don’t gel when it comes to the biggest tournament of all. Capello at least seems to have his eye on that goal – although his hands have been tied by injuries to key players – so with luck this England squad might at least recognise one another and not need to be introduced in the dressing room before the match.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    (1950 World Cup). Uruguay’s victory was unexpected. It was a lopsided score, too, in the final, five to nothing, if memory serves.

    Memory doesn’t serve, Rog.

    You’re right about Uruguay’s win being an upset: Brazil were expected to stroll it on home soil. But the result of the deciding game was much closer: 2-1 to Uruguay.

    Technically it wasn’t the final either: the 1950 tournament had a final group of four instead of a knockout stage. But the results just happened to pan out so that the last group game between Uruguay and Brazil would also decide the title.

    Brazil led the group by a point going into the match, so they only needed a draw to lift the World Cup whereas Uruguay had to win. Watched in Rio’s Maracaná Stadium by a crowd estimated to be 200,000 – still, I believe, a world record for any sporting event – Brazil took the lead just after half time and seemed to be cruising. But Uruguay scored twice in the final 25 minutes and that was that.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, that was a long time ago. I doubt even Stan was alive back then.

  • Earl

    Does the U.S. stick with the 4-4-2 that brought them or do they switch it to something like a 4-5-1?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    I’m confident that they’ll qualify from the group with more of the same.

    But when they run up against (probably) Germany, Serbia or Ghana in the next phase, they’re going to have to adapt if they don’t want to have to keep thinking, “I’m sure there was a German/Serbian/Ghanaian with a ball just in front of me a moment ago… Oh, there he is – running towards his teammates with his shirt off.”

  • zingzing

    if we still had davies, i’d say go 4-4-2, but without him, i’d say going 4-5-1 and shoring up our stuggling, yet very talented midfield would be a good way to spread the ball around, maintain more possession and get the ball up in dangerous spots. heaven knows we don’t want the ball to get near our defense. luckily, we do have supreme talent in goal. but still. keep the ball up and in their net and we can win.

  • STM

    Doc # 16. LOL! Very clever, Doctor

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    luckily, we do have supreme talent in goal.

    You do seem to produce a consistently excellent crop of keepers. Howard is world class and Hahnemann’s no slouch either – had a superb season with Wolves.

    In the outfield, I’m looking forward to seeing Clint Dempsey. He, too, had an amazing season with Fulham.

    BTW, I wonder what happened to Freddy Adu and why he isn’t in the squad…

  • Earl

    Strapping, corn-fed bucks with great hand-eye coordination. Sounds like a U.S. product.

    Fulham, what a brilliant example of how great coaching can help a team rise.

    And yeah, if anyone’s had a Freddy-sighting, please do notify.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    He’s on the books of Benfica, the top Portuguese club, but can’t break into the first team so they keep loaning him out. Currently he’s with Thessalonika in Greece, I believe.

  • zingzing

    “BTW, I wonder what happened to Freddy Adu and why he isn’t in the squad…”

    because he hasn’t really developed as a player. he’s been great for our under-23 team, and he’s been alright on the national team, but even his brother maurice has a better chance at the mnt at this point. he just doesn’t get playing time over in europe. i think he’s made some bad decisions with the clubs he signs with… and i don’t know why they’re signing him either. he works well in certain situations, but he hasn’t gone to clubs where that situation exists, therefore he gets no playing time, therefore he doesn’t develop.

    still, what is he, 20? 21? since he left club play in the us in 2007, he’s played in a total of 32 games and scored 3 goals. things just haven’t been going right for him. (yet, in 38 games for the us mens’ under 20 and 23, he’s got 20 goals.) he’s clearly talented, but he just doesn’t get the playing time. he should come back to the mls just to get some playing time, methinks. best for him, best for us. he could still yet develop into a great player, as he has the potential.

  • zingzing

    thrilling start, eh? mexico got damn lucky, although they did pull it together at the end and got a bit unlucky, and france… what a mess.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Didn’t see the France-Uruguay game. I recorded it, with a view to skimming through the highlights later after reading the match report… but then I read the match report and saw that there were no highlights. So I just deleted it.

    The first game was pretty good. Probably the right result. What a terrific goal to open the tournament with!

  • Earl

    Thought S.Africa was vital but shaky in the back. Mexico stayed the course, as did the U.S. commentators who were worse than boring, they were wrong on that offsides. At least Univision has skantly clad women who serve no purpose other than to be skantly clad women. France’s midfield wasn’t effective and the overall energy was low until the final ten minutes. All in all, a fairly typical opening day of WC footie that was overshadowed by a great vibe coming from the beautiful people of a very deserving country. Now, I hope, we can get down to some real football.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    they were wrong on that offside

    You’re not kidding. Forgot about the goalkeeper coming out, didn’t they? Made a huge song and dance about the supposed referee fuck-up and it was a perfect no-brainer of a decision. Made complete fools of themselves.

  • STM

    Rog: “I doubt even Stan was alive back then.”

    You’re right Rog … but I wasn’t that far behind :)

  • STM

    Earl: “Now, I hope, we can get down to some real football”

    What, like the Germans giving Oz a flogging.

    I have a theory: Germans love order, but don’t cope that well with disarray (watch what happens if you cross the road in Germany against a red light). Australians, on the other hand, hate authority and love DISORDER … and the more disorder, and the more tall poppies getting cut down, the better.

    So if Australia can put Germany out of their comfort zone by upsetting the Old World Order and chreating complete chaos, they could be half a chance. This is where our convict streak sometimes comes in handy.

    Maybe.

  • STM

    Either that or we play them at rugby and beat them 110-0.

  • Earl

    “Anarchy in the A-U-S,” has a nice symmetry to it. It could catch on.

    Predictions for this weekend’s games?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Robert Greene should have worn red jerseys rather than green.

    Red distracts.

  • zingzing

    well. look who made the right prediction. a tense game. and inches to the left and we would have had a win. (of course, if the english hadn’t kept kicking the ball right at howard–when they weren’t busy trying to injure him–it would have been a different story.) good game. i doubt the reaction to a tie was the same in england as it was here, where it was greeted with a big round of applause.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Who is “we”?

    I was rooting for England.

  • zingzing

    why the hell would you do a stupid thing like that? we are now mortal enemies, roger. you are dead to me.

    i am disgusted and saddened. but nothing shall change the victory of this draw.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    No we’re not, zing, let me assure you.

    I just don’t want to see US victory, or tie, as validation of American imperialism.

  • zingzing

    it’s soccer, roger. “a validation of american imperialism.” pish-posh. forget politics. this thing goes beyond all that. and don’t you dare try to make this a fucking political discussion. it’s not. it’s about the sport.

    and fuck those queen-loving, snaggle-toothed brits that can’t find a decent goaltender.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Sport is an expression, zing, the highest expression of nationalism – especially in soccer. For Soviets, it was the main tool of propaganda.

    But seriously, I don’t want to see any American victory obscure the trouble at home.

    Have you noticed, by the way, the increase in the level of enthusiasm on the part of US sport announcers – baseball, basketball, you name it?

    You know what I see? To take our eyes off the ball, to convince us there is no trouble in paradise.

    I ain’t falling for it.

  • zingzing

    roger, for a month, can your fucking politics. shove it out the door.

    you know what i see? a regularly scheduled event.

    you can blather all you want about politics. i want to talk soccer. please don’t sully my fun.

    i do note the conspicuous lack of english voices around here. where’d you go, doc? no doubt drowning in a bottle right now.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Hey, I was just venting. But don’t worry, I’ll thoroughly enjoy the event.

    I don’t have access to TV. Do you suppose a BBC station will broadcast the games?

    I don’t mind listening to a radio broadcast. I was weaned on that.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    And as to lack of “English voices,” it’s understandable. Greene fumbled. He should have worn red jerseys as I said.

    I’m referring to stats re: penalty kicks and goals scored. Red jerseys are the best defense.

  • zingzing

    you obviously have a computer, roger. a computer is as good as a television. the internet.

  • zingzing

    there are also, of course, less legal ways to do it, but as i know you to be a traitor (“i was rooting for england”), i’ll leave you to find those on your own, mr. arnold.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’ll abide by your sentiment, Paul Revere.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    And thanks, BTW, for not endorsing full-fledged McCarthyism.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    What, like the Germans giving Oz a flogging.

    You got that right, mate, sadly for your lot! Cahill shouldn’t have been sent off but that didn’t change much about the Socceroos’ performance, which had about as much in the way of real teeth as the dining room at an old folks’ home.

    Germany were superb, though – easily the best team performance of the tournament so far and, as usual with German teams, out of the blocks like greyhounds. 8-0 against Saudia Arabia in ’02, 4-2 against Costa Rica four years ago and now this.

    For the Germans, using your opening game to be cautious and conservative and get a feel for things is just something that happens to other people.

  • STM

    I was hoping Australia would draw on their spirit, perhaps even from a certain WWII battle in the mid-east (don’t mention the war!!) after which a fountain is named in Sydney, but alas, it was not to be.

    The only hope now for revenge is for them to qualify for the Rugby World Cup and hope they get drawn in a group of death: say, Australia, England and New Zealand, and to play Australia first and have a cricket score racked up against them.

    After we get flogged, the fallback position is to go for the Poms, but only in soccer.

    Now I’ll have to “root” for England. Tee hee.

    But as you know, Doc … my view when it comes to football: if the ball ain’t oval-shaped, it’s not a real sport :)

  • STM

    I do believe I have already done a bit of “rooting” for England, the last time I was over there.

  • STM

    After Germany got out of the blocks early and blitzed – for want of a better term – the Aussies, The Bild newspaper carried a headline that not so loosely translates as:

    “We’re going to blow you all away”.

    Possibly, that might have been a poor choice of words. I dunno, call me old fashioned, but …

    They do look awesome though, I must admit.

    Everyone else better have their wits about them when they come up against this team.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Last three World Cups at least, Germany has been the team playing the best, the most positive and most enjoyable football to watch in the early stages. They start like Usain Bolt out of the blocks and look unstoppable.

    But then, the further the tournament goes on, other teams start to figure them out and eventually they run out of steam and ideas.

    A bit like the way they fight wars, I suppose…

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    my view when it comes to football: if the ball ain’t oval-shaped, it’s not a real sport :)

    Well, at least in your version(s) the foot is actually used to propel the ball occasionally, rather than just by one solitary guy who comes on for a few seconds, punts the thing once and then runs off again.

    Not a real sport? What shape are the bloody things in cricket, tennis, basketball, hockey, squash, snooker, water polo and all those other games you Aussies are supposed to be good at?

    Most experts generally agree that balls are supposed to be round, not shaped like a bloke’s nuts. Real sport my arse.

    😉

  • STM

    I said: “when it comes to football”. Doc, you’re so fired up you’re not reading the posts. Most unlike you mate.

    What’s going on??? Yanks been giving you some earache about the 1-all draw??

  • STM

    And, what? Aren’t blokes’ nuts round??

  • zingzing

    check yourself before you wreck yourself, stm.

  • Earl

    I suppose I should be flattered that STM is interested in my nuts. Additional interest isn’t presently needed and if it were I wouldn’t call, but thanks and please know that I’m not one to judge. Whatever gets you through the night is my philosophy, of which a strong display of soccer/football by Landon et al surely gave me a good feeling before bed.
    Organization, structure and discipline have been winning the Beautiful Game since 1980 and will continue to (full disclaimer: romantic that I am, my favorite teams are: Barcelona, Arsenal, and, at the national level, the Netherlands, because, let’s face it, Brazil hasn’t played Joga Bonita since the 80s).
    Dr Dread, excellent points as always and much appreciated.
    Zingzing, thanks for bringing hood respect to my blog.
    STM, best of luck, “mate,” in your dating quest.
    Huge game tomorrow but in the meanwhile, Italy? What was that?

  • zingzing

    hrm. i was actually trying to reference “protect yourself/my nuts” by the fat boys, but i fucked it up.

    so, to restate to stm:

    protect yourself, stm.

    (although that doesn’t have the same ring, or the the same message…)

    (god, this song sucks.)

  • STM

    Just as an aside, does everyone know that Australian Rules football (a misnomer: itvirtually has no rules at all), which is played by the heathens in the southern and western states by men in tight shorts and fetching sleeveless tops similar to those worn by my daughter (and possibly with the same kind of matching handbags), has the highest rate of nut-tweak injury of any sport in the world?

    This kind of injury is also known as a SPATFA. (Don’t ask). It is also why soccer players will strategically position their hands when facing a free kicker just outside the box.

    This is probably why all those heathens and their followers in the AFL speak with high-pitched voices. Well, might not be the only reason …

    AFL joke:

    Q: “What’s got 50 heads and three teeth”.

    A: “Magpies cheer squad”.

  • STM

    Earl: “I suppose I should be flattered”.

    Not really, Earl …

  • STM

    BTW, Aussie coach Pim Verbeek is talking today about the Australian mentality (you can lose to a team like Germany, but losing 4-0 is absolutely no good).

    Pim’s a Dutchman.

    The truth is, no loss is good!

    It was a shambles from go to woe.

    G’day zing … hope you’re enjoying yourself more than me.

  • STM

    And I’d say that’s the end of Australia’s world cup. Now have to beat Ghana AND Serbia to move through … and possibly face England.

    Bring on the rugby world cup, where we’re at least a hope of taking the trophy home.

    Aussies just aren’t great at soccer. Some great individuals, but it’s not our game.

    Even less our game after we’ve been giving an absolute flogging by the Germans.