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The Cup Running Over


June 12, 2010 5:15 PM

Review of England-USA: Once Again, Football Isn't Coming Home

Going into this game, we called England and the US perhaps the two most overrated squads in South Africa.

Now, perhaps, you can see what we were talking about -- especially as it pertains to England.

Its goalkeeping issues have been the subject of many-a-piece, by us and others, and after today have never been clearer. The USA goal was a true howler, an instant World Cup classic. But more surprisingly, its offense looked distinctly mediocre. Wayne Rooney, one of the most hyped players going into the tournament, did little to impress, save for one long range effort. England must find a way to unleash him, and no, playing Emile Heskey is never the answer. As at Manchester United, Rooney needs good service from the wings - something he never got today. Capello will be praying Gareth Barry is fit for the next matches, providing much-needed defensive cover, but also letting Steven Gerrard play a more forward role on the left wing (much as he did in qualifying). Aaron Lennon was distinctly average on the right, and one can't help but wonder if the introduction of Theo Walcott, who was left at home, would have spiced up a lifeless England attack today.

Not that the USA did spectacularly either. The team looked terrible at the back: only a bold job from keeper Tim Howard and a man-of-the-match performance from Oniguchi Onyewu saved a disorganized and exposed back-four from the few attacks England did manage. Up front was more encouraging - - the USA did well to utilize the pace of its forwards - Jozy Altidore in particular looked dangerous, and almost scored after accelerating past Jamie Carragher. But what the USA really needs is much more decisive central midfielders. Michael Bradley did little to impress today, and in the future Bob Bradley should leave his son on the bench and start Jose Torres, who will lend a little creativity. Too much of the creative burden is on wingers Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan, who can only do so much.

Both these teams need to improve a lot to do anything significant in South Africa. At this rate, only one may get out of the group, and in this form, a second-round exit beckons for the other. Don't save an extra seat at the dinner table: football will not be coming home. Again.




 

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