One of two things will happen today when the United States squares off against England:
- The United States will redeem itself on the biggest possible stage as a capable group of players ready to hang with the big boys in the world’s sport.
- The United States will embarrass itself on the biggest possible stage, and silence its growing fan base for another four years.
There are a number of things to look forward to in the 90-minute offensive display that the United States-England game has the potential to turn into. Who will win the battle of the midfielders? Will the United States have an answer for England’s star, Wayne Rooney? How will the two different styles of the teams influence who comes out the ultimate victor?
The major strength of England is expected to be the center of midfield, which is built around stars Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. Lampard has the ability to make everything go for England. If the Americans allow him too much time on the ball, he will be able to rip his opponents to shreds. The only chance the Americans have at slowing England down in the midfield is by having Michael Bradley and Ricardo Clark step up in the clutch. They cannot, by any means, allow Gerrard and Lampard to get into a comfort zone.
Equally interesting will be to see how the United States will contain Rooney. Even a team with a good defense – which the United States doesn’t have – would have trouble dealing with Rooney’s skill, so it will be interesting to see what Jay DeMerit, Carlos Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu will have in store for him. Between the three men, you have enough medical problems to keep a hospital open. Onyewu is coming off a knee injury, DeMeri has vision problems and Bocanegra recently underwent hernia surgery.
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While Rooney scored 26 goals for Manchester United in the English Premier League last summer, American striker Jozy Altidore sat back and took notes. Altidore, who had a mere one goal, is a wild card for the United States. He performed well with the national team, but he has a knack for not being able to convert in scoring opportunities. Further, a lack of confidence and injury concerns raise even more question marks as to how effective he will be against England.
Almost as important as Altidore’s play, is the pace of the game for the Americans. The United States must utilize the quickness and speed of Robbie Findley in order to get England on their heels. Findley comes from a family of athletes, and his genes have turned into the United States’ biggest physical threat. Factoring into the equation is that England is missing its captain, Rio Ferdinand. This means that John Terry, a once great defensive player, who is a shell of his former self, will have the responsibility of guarding Findley. Look for the American to outrun the sluggish England defenders and be a big key to the team’s potential victory.
United States lineup: Howard, Cherundolo, Onyewu, DeMerit, Bocanegra, Donovan, Bradley, Clark, Dempsey, Findley, Altidore
England lineup: Green, Johnson, Terry, King, Cole, Lennon, Lampard, Gerrard, Milner, Heskey, Rooney
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Prediction: England 2-1.