England have suffered a sobering reality check as they were outplayed for long periods by a youthful United States side in a tense 0-0 draw in their second World Cup Group B game.
A 6-2 thrashing of Iran on Monday sent fans’ hopes soaring but Gareth Southgate’s side were fortunate not to suffer a repeat of their 1950 World Cup calamity against the Americans.
They will still qualify for the last 16 if they avoid a heavy defeat by Wales in their final group game, but they were greeted with boos at the final whistle and will need a vast improvement if they are to have a deep run.
The US produced a high-tempo display but may live to rue not putting away an England side stuck in second gear, although they will reach the last 16 for the fifth time since 1994 if they beat Iran.
“A draw’s not the worst thing but I felt for stretches of the game we showed dominance,” said Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, one of five England-based players in the US starting line-up, said.
He struck the crossbar in a first half his team dominated while the outstanding Weston McKennie tormented England and spurned a glorious first-half chance.
England captain Harry Kane sent a late header wide that would have given England a first World Cup win over the US at the third attempt but it would have been a travesty.
While the result, and performance, was desperately disappointing, England top the group on four points and remain in the box seat to reach the last 16.
Iran, who snatched a late win over Wales, have three points with the US on two points and Wales on one. All possibilities are still open in the group next Tuesday.
“Wasn’t the best performance for sure,” Kane, who remains two behind Wayne Rooney’s England record 53 goals, said.
“Good spells with the ball, but we didn’t quite have the final product. A draw isn’t bad for us. We were playing a tough team and we move on.”
The US dropped back in the second half and defended superbly as a unit when needed, giving England little room to work with.
“Every time you can get a shut out in the World Cup it is a good thing,” said US coach Gregg Berhalter.
“We know five points gets us in, we have to concentrate on the five points.”
For the first time in 54 games England manager Southgate named an unchanged starting line-up but they were unrecognisable to the free-flowing side that demolished Iran.
They lacked zip and the sight of teenaged midfielder Jude Bellingham, who earned rave reviews against Iran, making no impact and being replaced by veteran Jordan Henderson in the second half just about summed it up.
The Americans took a while to settle into the match and were fortunate when Kane’s shot from Bukayo Saka’s cross was blocked by Walker Zimmerman and flew just wide.
After that a nimble and smart US side took charge.
Haji Wright, the only change to Gregg Berhalter’s line-up from the opening draw with Wales, headed wide and England had a huge let-off when McKennie half-volleyed over.
Juventus’s McKennie, sporting a red, white and blue hairdo, then instigated another move with a surging run before the ball was worked across to Pulisic who crashed an angled left-foot drive against the bar in the 33rd minute.
The chances kept flowing for a slick American side before half-time with Sergino Dest threatening after a weaving run and Pulisic scuffing a header wide.
England finally awoke from their slumber just before the break with Bukayo Saka scooping a shot over before US keeper Matt Turner was forced into making a save, pushing Mount’s drilled low shot around the post.
Source : NorthWestStar