England 2-0 USA
For England, having failed to qualify for Euro 2008, this game was always likely to be a fairly meaningless affair. For the first half hour of the game it is difficult to remember a single incident of any real note.
David Beckham delivered a pin point pass from a free kick to Steve Gerrard who duly slotted the ball home, but the kick had been taken before the fussy Greek referee was ready. When the kick was retaken the ball flew harmlessly wide.
The Beckham-Gerrard partnership produced another chance for the Liverpool man from another cleverly worked free-kick but this time his shot was blocked by Fulham’s Clint Dempsey.
Steve Gerrard, playing wide on the left, was involved in everything that England did well. That wasn’t a lot to be fair! A nice move between him and Wayne Rooney set Jermaine Defoe up with a good chance which he fired wide.
With the USA creating next to nothing and England having lots of possession but not really looking like scoring a goal, the first half was a tedious and uninspiring spectacle. It looked as though the game would remain scoreless until half-time when England were awarded a free-kick on the right hand side on 38 minutes.
David Beckham delivered a trademark whipped cross into the box and John Terry rose to meet the ball on the penalty spot with tremendous power heading the ball past a helpless Tim Howard into his bottom left corner.
That goal for John Terry, captain for this game, won’t have removed the dark memories from Moscow last week but will be a good start to the healing process. Not even the most anti-Chelsea person would begrudge Terry that goal.
In the short time between the goal and half-time England played their best football of the game and came close to increasing their lead through Owen Hargreaves and Jermaine Defoe.
In the first minute of the second half the USA created their first and only real opportunity of the night when Eddie Johnson fired a left footed snapshot just wide of England’s post with David James beaten.
Both sides then begun to make full use of their six permitted substitutions as the game drifted on. There were a few moments for England but the USA continued to disappoint. In the 59th minute one of England’s substitutes, Gareth Barry, made an instant contribution when his pinpoint through-ball left Steve Gerrard one on one with the keeper. The excellent Gerrard made no mistake slotting the ball in at the far post.
At 2-0 the game was over as a contest although it had never really reached the heights of being called a contest! The match petered out, with the crowd starting the ‘Mexican wave’, a sure sign of boredom, some twenty minutes from the end.
For England, Rio Ferdinand and John Terry looked very comfortable at the back and Steve Gerrard was rightly awarded the man of the match award. For the USA it was a disappointing night, but striker Eddie Johnson worked hard all evening.
Will either manager have learned anything from the game? Probably nothing they didn’t already know to be honest.
From an England point of view I think it is a shame that we didn’t see Dean Ashton rather than Crouch and that we didn’t see Ashley Young rather than Joe Cole. It might have been nice to see Theo Walcott get a run as well. This would have seemed an ideal game for these players to get used to international football. I guess they may all play a part in Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday when England are likely to be without all of their Manchester United and Chelsea players.
Overall, not a terrible performance by England but not exactly world class either. A comfortable win against a USA team who were, I’m afraid to say, pretty poor.
England – James, Brown (Johnson 58), Ferdinand, Terry, A Cole (Bridge), Hargreaves, Beckham (Bentley 45), Gerrard, Lampard (Barry 58), Rooney (J Cole 78), Defoe (Crouch 68).
USA – Howard (Guzan 45), Onyewu, Cherundolo (Hejduk 45), Pearce, Bocanegra, Dempsey, Bradley, Clark, Beasley (Adu 68), Johnson, Wolff (Lewis 68).