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The Cup Running Over


June 11, 2010 7:35 PM

England v USA Preview

Good thing this game hasn't received any hype, right?

But that's  what one should expect when the two teams whose supporters classically overrate their chances the most meet. (A recent poll showed that 50% of the English think their team is bringing the trophy home.)

At last year's Confederations Cup, the Americans were out-shot 2-1, meaning goalie Tim Howard kept them in games. He must do so again. A third of the team's shots were taken by Clint Dempsey -- an extraordinarily high number for a midfielder. He, too, must have the game of his life. Soccer may be a team sport but the Americans are remarkably unbalanced.

tim howard con cup.jpg
Tim Howard must excel for the US to have a chance. (Courtesy -- zimbio.com)


In truth, it should be a good high-scoring game since both teams are weak at the back. England is even more shaky than usual with Rio Ferdinand's recent injury, and his replacement, Ledley King will struggle to deal with Jozy Altidore's strength and pace. Plus King himself isn't even fully fit. The Americans will look to hit England on the break, relying on the sheer pace of players like Landon Donovan and over-hyped 'supersubs' Robbie Findley and Edson Buddle after England's wingbacks attack.

It's a risky strategy. The USA's defense is even weaker, and England will almost certainly score. The midfield will likely revert to classic English tactics - hoofing the ball to a tall, physical forward (either Emile Heskey or Peter Crouch) and hope he can knock it down for Wayne Rooney to score. It will probably work at least once. What's more, the USA's lack of a decent defensive midfielder will mean that English midfielders Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard will pose a threat from long range. This could really be goals galore, in both directions.

Steven and Harrison Stark are the co-authors of the recently published World Cup 2010: The Indispensable Guide to Soccer and Geopolitics. They are analyzing the World Cup for Real Clear Sports



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