Monday Feb 6, 2023
Monday Feb 6, 2023

US earns respect at World Cup, but wins remain elusive


Nepalnews
AP
2022 Nov 26, 12:40, Qatar
Gio Reyna of the United States, left, talks with England's Jude Bellingham at the end of the World Cup group B soccer match between England and The United States, at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor , Qatar, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. (AP Photo)

Respect achieved. Wins await.

American players wanted more than a 0-0 draw with England on Friday night, likely the most-watched match of their lives.

The U.S. shut out a European opponent in the World Cup for the first time since 1950 yet left the tent-like stadium in the Arabian desert knowing a win in Tuesday’s politically charged matchup with Iran is a must to reach the knockout stage.

The British tabloid The Sun ran a headline calling the result “Yawn in the USA.” England supporters booed loudly at the final whistle and American fans cheered.

Playing before what figured to be a huge Black Friday television audience, the former Colonies remained unbeaten in three World Cup matches against Ye Olde Country, a run that includes the famous 1-0 upset at Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in 1950 and the 1-1 draw at Rustenberg, South Africa, in 2010. The U.S. had conceded goals in 19 consecutive Cup matches against European opponents until Matt Turner matched Frank Borghi’s clean sheet of 72 years earlier.

Antonee Robinson of the United States, left, and England's Mason Mount, second from left, walk on the pitch at the end of the World Cup group B soccer match between England and The United States, at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor , Qatar, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. (AP Photo)
Antonee Robinson of the United States, left, and England's Mason Mount, second from left, walk on the pitch at the end of the World Cup group B soccer match between England and The United States, at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor , Qatar, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. (AP Photo)

American fans outcheered England supporters, too, including a cheeky serenade of “It’s called soccer!” in the 40th minute.

In 2010, England dominated 14-10 in shots and 6-4 in corner kicks. This time the U.S., using five starters from Premier League clubs, led 10-8 in shots and 7-3 in corners.

McKennie had the best U.S. chance, putting an open 9-yard attempt wide from Tim Weah’s cross in the 26th minute. Seven minutes later, Pulisic bent a shot with his weaker left foot around Kieran Trippier and Bukayo Saka, and the ball glanced off a fingertip of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and against the crossbar.

England’s best opportunity came in second-half stoppage time, when Harry Kane sliced a header wide from Luke Shaw’s free kick.

The U.S. wore blue tie-dyed uniforms in Bayt Stadium, which has a tent-shaped roof with an underside in a red-and-black carpet pattern. The interior is filled with the sadu pattern of the Bedouin.

Coach Gregg Berhalter made just one change from the 1-1 draw against Wales, replacing forward Josh Sargent with Haji Wright in just his fifth international appearance. Usually wedded to a 4-3-3 formation, Berhalter switched to a 4-4-2 that was first practiced Wednesday, according to Aaronson, who referred to it as an “amoeba.”

Still, the U.S. has five losses and five draws against European teams at the World Cup since beating Portugal in 2002. Looking ahead to the Iran match likely will be the huge topic of Saturday’s Thanksgiving dinner with players, family and friends.

Iran upset the U.S. 2-1 at Lyon, France, in the second game of the 1998 World Cup, eliminating the Americans. Team Melli is coming off Friday’s 2-0 upset of Wales and would advance with a win, or with a tie if Wales fails to beat England.

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