The English are coming! The English are coming!
The big one is almost here, the World Cup game we’ve been waiting for since the U.S. and England were drawn into the same group back in April. While we didn’t get the dream Thanksgiving Day matchup between the United States and England (imagine the nightmare for the NFL and Fox) the two will kick off on Black Friday at 2 p.m., instead.
This is not the first time the two have seen each other in the World Cup, and in fact England have never beaten the United States on the world’s biggest stage.
Back in 1950, the U.S. pulled off the upset, beating England 1-0 and in 2010 they forced a 1-1 draw that saw the equalizing goal hit English keeper Robert Green on the hands before rolling in.
Both teams are coming off games in which they netted points, but England’s 6-2 thrashing of Iran and the United States’ 1-1 draw with Wales produced different reactions, for obvious reasons. Obvious reason No. 1 is that England took all three points available to them while the draw gave the U.S. just one in a game where they feel they could have gotten a win.
“We gave them a lifeline. We dropped two points,” said U.S. goalie Matt Turner, who just missed saving a Gareth Bale penalty that was the equalizing goal for Wales in the 82nd minute.
Questions arose after the game about manager Gregg Berhalter’s decision to keep Bedford, N.Y. native Gio Reyna out of the game.
“They are trying to get him up to speed,” Berhalter told reporters. “They are guarding against tightness. We’re taking precaution and building him up. He can play a big role, the question is when.”
Reyna said he would be ready to go when, and if, he plays Friday.
“I feel really good. I feel great. I feel fine.” Reyna said after the game. “[Berhalter] doesn’t have to tell me why he didn’t put me in or why he does. But I’m 100 percent. I’m good to go.”
It will be interesting to see the lineup Berhalter starts Friday. Weston McKennie started the game against Wales but tired in the second half and Berhalter took him out for Brenden Aaronson, who seemed to provide a spark to the American midfield.
Bradley Wright-Phillips, the all-time leading scorer for the Red Bulls said Aaronson, a Medford, N.J. native who plays for England’s Leeds United, needs to be in the lineup.
“He can go past guys, he’s clever, he’s good in the final third, really quick feet,” he said. “They need something more against England, they’re going to need to score because England will score. I’ve been impressed with him in the Premier League I think he’s done really well.”
Tyler Adams, a native of Wappingers Falls and a product of Red Bulls Academy, was also a name that Wright-Phillips said can go unnoticed by casual fans but is an integral part of the U.S. team.
“If you’re not a big football fan it will go unnoticed, but if you can watch this guy the work he puts in for the team is a lot of unselfish work, he wins the ball back for his team multiple times a game,” he said. “Tyler’s definitely the one where you might miss it, but he’s definitely one to watch.”
Other than Adams, though, Wright-Phillips said the U.S. will need something from “their main man” Christian Pulisic noting the game against England is where “you earn your money.”
While England have yet to beat the U.S. in the World Cup, Wright-Phillips thinks this is the year where they end that, with a 3-1 victory over the United States. We’ll see if Aaronson, Adams and Pulisic have anything to say about that prediction Friday afternoon.