The world calls it football and one country in particular, calls it soccer. There are no points to guess which country that is. So let’s get straight to the point. England, led by Gareth Southgate sat and watched as they failed to get any momentum against the USA.
Their shots on target, which were low and unappealing, seemed like something that a team with low confidence would put out. It all ended up being a huge disappointment as both nations went home with a point.
While the result is not a bad one, for England, it certainly is a night to forget. So what happened and what exactly went wrong? Let’s look at all of them by reading some of the most important talking points.
USA, led by Pulusic, realised the importance of counter attack and did so throughout the game. They had their plan in tact and continued pushing through England’s midfield and made some crucial marches ahead.
While their finishes could be questionable, there’s nothing that one can say about their counter attacking intent. They had England where they wanted and often looked like the better team.
Despite having only one shot on target, USA made a total of 10 attempts when compared to England’s 8. That sums up the night for England. A team outdone by counter attack and having nothing to showcase as they went forward.
However, England’s defence and Harry Maguire in particular, can be relieved about their performance. The Manchester United defender ensured that USA kept the ball away from his net as he kept bringing down their counter attacks.
Even through corners, Maguire was sharp and did not seem like the bad sheep that everyone classifies him as. So for a horrendous show by England, the momentum was with USA and defending with Maguire.
If your counter attack fails then it could be down to several reasons. One, you were stopped by defenders, two, the defenders pulled your shot wide or three, the keeper showed you his true class.
For the USA, these were all the reasons that came into the mix. USA had a total of 7 corners, four more than England, that mainly came through their counter attacks. Either Jordan Pickford or England defenders were responsible for these corners because that’s what they had to do to prevent the United States from scoring.
They had to step in and ignore their midfield, which was almost non-existent throughout the whole night. The entire 90 minute game seemed like the USA playing against a team that they were able to beat. And for all the expert commentary and pundit talk, it is surprising that England failed to get any momentum, especially after scoring 6 goals against Iran.
Apart from Pulisic, USA had another star player doing what he does best. Leeds United’s very own Tyler Adams was in full swing against England as he kept their star players away from his box.
Adams made the right kind of tackles and was successful in making passes and helping USA lead through counter attacks. He certainly was the star in midfield and rarely made errors or even lost possession.
He seemed to be packed and ready for the World Cup and is sure to guide USA through more successful campaigns. His performance was so good that his club, Leeds United, which is in England, posted pictures of his tackles that were made against England.
Unlike the US midfield, England’s midfield couldn't produce anything of significance. Despite having stars like Mason Mount, Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice, England’s midfield seemed like they ran out of ideas.
Bellingham, who introduced himself against Iran in the best manner possible, was left clueless at times and couldn’t handle what USA was putting up against them. Thanks to an ineffective midfield, England’s defence had to do all of the hard work and get moving as soon as possible.
They had to run back in time and handle the counter attack and also mark US players who were ready to score headers and get the ball rolling. In all likelihood, England seemed to be out of the game even before the first half ended and there was hardly any change in the second half.
So the result is what England deserved, although, you could say that USA deserved all three points, i.e. only if they managed to score.
It’s hard to imagine USA relying on another player other than Pulisic. While they do have other attacking talents, it was Christian Pulusic who really stood out and captured the spotlight.
It was him that everyone looked up and you could see the same through their counter attacks. There were moments where USA’s counter attacks worked when Pulisic took it forward but immediately failed when he passed the ball to another player.
For a long time, it seemed like the USA's march forward started with Pulisic and ended with Pulisic. That is something that a team in the World Cup shouldn’t be doing. They shouldn’t be relying on the same guy to produce all the goods.
So if there’s a change in the coming weeks, the USA could do it because more attack is always good for a team that presses high up the pitch. But for now, Pulusic deserves all the credit and the only way to make things better is for the Chelsea player to score a goal.
When things aren;t going as planned, managers often look towards their bench for inspiration. However, Southgate isn’t exactly the type of manager to do so. While he did bring Grealish and Henderson, one could say that it was too late for any change.
The likes of Foden, Trent and more were left on the bench, which seems like an odd thing to do. You have Klopp and Pep, two of the greatest managers of all time starting Trent and Foden every other week but Southgate’s different.
While the approach that he followed has brought in results, whether it will help him moving forward is a question that needs to be answered. Since it’s been ages since England saw some silverware even the fans will be annoyed at the fact that Southgate doesn’t fully utilise his bench.
With the tournament progressing and rules changing, it’s time Southgate used his bench and made tactical changes as and when required because if he continues in this manner, the road ahead might not be a good one.