3 reasons why England beat the USA
In a match curiously billed as ‘The Wayne Rooney Foundation International’, England defeated the USA 3-0 in tonight’s international friendly match at Wembley.
While it was a useful exercise that allowed England boss Gareth Southgate to experiment in a low-pressure environment, the game also lacked the edge that England’s last few games in the UEFA Nations League have had.
A blistering first-half performance saw England hit two goals, with Jesse Lingard of Manchester United opening the scoring with a right-footed shot reminiscent of his World Cup goal against Panama, and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold rifling a low shot home to open his own international account.
The pace of the game slowed notably in the second half – the much-discussed return of Wayne Rooney was largely a damp squib, but debutant Callum Wilson of Bournemouth added a third goal with a well-taken volley late on.
Here are 3 reasons why England beat the USA.
#1 England’s attacking players combined well – in the first half at least
Despite the USA’s Christian Pulisic carving out a couple of decent chances, the first half was largely dominated by England, and every time the Three Lions went on the attack, it looked like they were capable of scoring.
The front trio of Jesse Lingard, Callum Wilson, and Jadon Sancho combined well with both Dele Alli and Harry Winks in midfield as well as full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben Chilwell, and their quick passing movements had the USA on the ropes time after time.
Admittedly, the USA’s defence didn’t appear to be up to much – more on that later – but the movement of Alli in particular offered more penetration than England have shown in recent fixtures, and it was impressive to see him combine so well with Sancho and Lingard – combinations that led directly to England’s first two goals.
The press may well latch onto the fact that England’s pace noticeably slowed in the second half when Wayne Rooney was introduced from the bench, but that wasn’t really the case – England simply lost any kind of incisive movement when Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier – two defensive midfielders – were introduced to play alongside Winks.
It was another sign that the two men simply cannot play for England together – something Gareth Southgate would do well to remember come Sunday’s crunch game with Croatia.
Once Ruben Loftus-Cheek was introduced however, England’s dynamism made a return – albeit not as strongly as in the first half – and the Three Lions began to carve chances out again.
Overall, the dynamism of England’s attackers, Sancho in particular, was a massive positive for Southgate, and led directly to tonight’s victory.