Another international break means another chance to see the Red, White, and Blue in action. England is the day’s competition.
Opponent: England (No. 5 FIFA World rankings, USA is No. 23)
Recent form: ENG: W-D-W-L-L (two UEFA Nations League matches, a friendly, and the World Cup). USA: D-L-W-L-D (all friendlies)
The Line: England -370, +459, USA +1079
Time, Location: Thurs., Nov. 15 • 2:00 p.m. CDT (8:00 p.m. local) • Wembley Stadium, London
Event: International friendly
Weather: 53ºF, 9% chance of rain, 91% humidity, 5 MPH SSE winds
Watch: ESPN2 (English), UniMas (Spanish)
The Three Lions
England has called in a pretty strong squad: 14 of 26 players were on this Summer’s World Cup squad, including Golden Boot winner Harry Kane. One of the players not from the Summer’s side is DC United striker Wayne Rooney, who will certainly start in what has the appearance of being his testimonial match.
For a team that is ranked No. 5 in the world per FIFA (though one can make an argument that the ranking is a bit inflated), a fairly young United State team will have a tough ask to beat them.
England largely went with a 3-5-2 formation at the World Cup, a contrast with the traditional 4-4-2 that they’ve been known for over the years (though obviously it worked out fairly well, with a fourth-place finish the team’s best since 1990). They went with the same formation in their September Nations League loss to Spain and October draw against Croatia, before switching to a 4-3-1-2 (or 4-diamond-2) in beating Spain during the October window.
I’d expect you’ll see the 3-5-2 that they’ve been working for quite some time, given that the United States doesn’t have the athletes and skill to beat them through a five-man midfield like Spain did in September.
This is the strongest squad we’ve seen called up in quite some time, primarily because of the presence of one specific player: Christian Pulisic. The rest of the group is fairly similar to what we’ve been seeing with a few exceptions:
- Keeper Zack Steffen withdrew from camp after suffering an injury in Columbus Crew’s MLS playoff loss to New York Red Bulls (he was replaced by Jonathan Klinsmann).
- Left back Antonee Robinson has suffered a training injury and will not be available for either friendly.
- Striker Josh Sargent arrived in camp with a minor injury and may not be available Thursday (though his sounds a bit more minor, and I would expect him to be available for one of the games, yeah?)
With Pulisic in the middle (or on one of the wings), though, the Americans have more attacking punch than we’ve seen in a while. You’d prefer that so much of the team’s ability to actually score goals wouldn’t be dependent on the presence of one player, but that’s where we are at this point in the cycle. As always, none of this matters because the Americans don’t have a permanent coach right now – let’s get to work announcing Gregg Berhalter now that the Crew are out of the playoffs.
Here’s the full squad of callups (from USSoccer.com):
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 59/0), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 2/0), Jonathan Klinsmann (Hertha Berlin/GER; 0/0)
DEFENDERS (10): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 35/3), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 1/0), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Swansea City/WAL; 6/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 1/0), Matt Miazga (Nantes/FRA; 10/1), Shaq Moore (Reus Deportiu/ESP; 3/0), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic/ENG; 6/0), Jorge Villafaña (Portland Timbers; 19/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 56/0), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 3/1)
MIDFIELDERS (12): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 21/2), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; 7/1), Luca de la Torre (Fulham/ENG; 1/0), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC/CAN; 5/0), Romain Gall (Malmö/SWE; 0/0), Julian Green (Greuther Fürth/GER; 14/4), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 3/1), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 6/1), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 21/9), Kenny Saief (Anderlecht/BEL; 3/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 9/0), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA; 7/1)
FORWARDS (2): Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 5/2), Bobby Wood (Hannover 96/GER; 43/13)
Based on the above, here’s what I’d bet on.
This, to me, is the game of this trip that the United States would rather put out its best XI and try to get a result (not that they don’t care about Italy, but can be a bit more experimental against a team that’s less of a traditional rival). With two squad regulars (Robinson and Sargent) on the shelf, you’ll see the next-best option at their spots – though I’d contend Wood is seen as the top striker right now anyway. Not having Robinson in this one might not be all that bad – his defensive deficiencies are not something I’m interested in seeing against Raheem Sterling.
While I’d prefer not to see Guzan in this one (or honestly, in a serious match – friendly or not – for the national team any time there are other options), I think Sarachan will go with him given the absence of Steffen.