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World Cup - USA vs England Preview

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These would appear to be the two heavyweights of Group C at the World Cup, so the winner of this match will have a huge advantage over the rest of the group.  That's why lots of folks think this will be be a dull, conservative affair with both sides perfectly satisfied with a draw outcome.  Not me, I think there will be a winner, and maybe even some fireworks.

The US will probably throw a 4-4-2 out, Donovan and Dempsey bombing forward from the midfield hoping to link up with Altidore and the inexperienced but speedy Findley.  The US should at least squeeze one goal out against the England D-men. Terry is error-prone and slow, Johnson can brain cramp, and King's weak knee might crack under the speed of Findley or the strength of Altidore.  Just sounds like the US should pop at least one against that defense. 

England's ball possession time has been woeful in the run-up friendlies, Mexico just tooled on them.  They'll play a counter-attack scheme hoping to exploit the shaky US back four with speed (Lennon) power (Rooney) and height (Crouch).  I think it's the third of these that will prove the most deadly.  England can dominate on dead balls and CK's with their heading attack build around Peter Crouch.  I could see England getting 3 goals total - 1 due to Crouch's height, 1 due to Rooney's awesomeness and 1 due to the US defense's awfulness.  The US better hope goalie Tim Howard carries a four leaf clover, because a reaction save or two by him could be the difference in the contest.

Another boon to US chances might be England manager Fabio Capello choosing to start Emile Heskey instead of Crouch.  I'd love to see that, for an hour or so anyway.   Because Crouch will surely sub on in the 2nd half and do some damage to the scoreboard.  Beware of tall men who know the robot.

IMO, what would bring the fireworks out in this game would be an early goal.  It would open things up and bring out some passion from the side behind.  Perhaps the greatest strength of the US is the willingness to bust a gut and maybe knock some heads.  England won't stand to get pushed around too much.  Could see some colonial conflict thrown down.

One interesting aspect of the match is the assigned referee - Brazilian Carlos Eugenio Simon.  He's a controversial figure, suspended by the Brazilian football confederation after a "build-up of perceived errors" and being branded "a crook, a scoundrel ... just a shameless bastard" by the president of the Brazilian club Palmeiras.  His rep is to be quick and easy with the cards, so a passionate tilt between the US and England could see both sides accrue the yellows and suffer suspensions down the tournament road as a result.

I'll predict a 2-goal England victory, but hope that the US defense plays way WAY above it's level allowing the US to pull off a 1-0 man-the-lifeboats victory.  Game starts at 1:30 local time. 

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.