Doha, Qatar – The USA men’s team takes the field to face England in Group B on Friday at 2pm ET on FOX. The Americans endured a tough 1-1 draw with Wales, while England, favorites for the World Cup, beat Iran 6-2 in the opening game.
The USA defeated England at the 1950 World Cup
When the United States first faced England at the World Cup, the hastily assembled American squad was a motley crew that included a postman, a gravedigger, a dishwasher and a schoolteacher.
Few of the players had ever met before they left for Brazil in 1950 to take on mighty England, and the United States’ surprising 1-0 victory is often associated with the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” win over the Soviet Union in Brazil Lake Placid compared the Olympics to one of the greatest moments in American sports history.
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The gap between the two national soccer teams isn’t nearly as great 72 years later, as England and the United States are set to play in Group B on Friday. In fact, US midfielder Tyler Adams said he was more scared of spiders than he was of England.
The Americans are the underdogs after a 1-1 draw with Wales, while England openly beat Iran 6-2.
“England are still a great team at the end of the day, but the intimidation factor? I wouldn’t say there’s a lot of things out there that intimidate me, other than spiders,” said Adams, who represents Premier League club Leeds plays.
“It’s fine for me, but of course I have to play against all these big players, so I’ve done that before. But we also want to show what we’re capable of and that US football is developing and growing in the right way.”
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But that American victory in 1950 was a rare victory against England, who have won eight of their 11 meetings against the United States. The top? Neither of those victories was a World Cup game and the sides’ second meeting on football’s greatest stage in 2010 ended in a 1-1 draw.
US midfielder Christian Pulisic doesn’t want to hear about statistics, rankings or predictions. The Americans failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and, after the opening draw, are tied with Wales for a place in the round of 16.
England leads the group with three points. A win or a draw on Friday would put the Americans in a good position to be one of the two teams going through.
“We don’t look at the odds and we’re not in the World Cup just to even the numbers,” said Pulisic. “We go, we give it our all in every game we play, we make America proud. Wherever this takes us, we’ll have to wait and see.”
A win for England would send the Three Lions into the last 16 with one game to play, but manager Gareth Southgate has warned against complacency after their opening defeat by Iran.
England captain Harry Kane, top scorer at the 2018 World Cup, injured his ankle against Iran and defender Harry Maguire left the game with blurred vision in the 70th minute. Kane has been training with the team for the past few days and is expected to play on Friday, while Maguire has hinted he will play for the national team in his 50th appearance.
Southgate told his side they needed to play even better against the United States than they did against Iran and he thought the two late goals conceded proved England were careless towards the end of the game.
“They are a top-flight nation with a lot of top-flight players who have played in the Premier League and who we have played against,” said England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. “But it’s about us being 100 per cent as a team. It’s about taking the result from Iran and going into the USA game positively.”
Iran 2 Wales 0
Rouzbeh Cheshmi scored in the eighth minute of added time to break a goalless stalemate and Iran beat Wales 2-0 at the World Cup on Friday. Cheshmi’s shot from outside the box was just out of bounds for Wales reserve goalkeeper Danny Ward, who was pushed into service when starter Wayne Hennessey was sent off with a red card in the 86th minute.
Ramin Rezaeian added a second goal soon after and Iran celebrated wildly while some of the Welsh players fell onto the field in disbelief. Outside the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, the ongoing protests in Iran spilled over into the World Cup, with pro-government fans harassing anti-government supporters of the national team.
Ben Davies of Wales vies with Ramin Rezaeian of Iran during the FIFA World Cup Group B match between Wales and Iran on November 25, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Qatar back on the field
Qatar return to the competition after becoming the first hosts in World Cup history to lose their first game, a 1-0 loss to Ecuador on the tournament’s opening night.
Qatar gets another chance to win against Senegal, who also lost their opener.
“There is a lot of room for improvement. Perhaps the responsibility and the nerve got the best of us,” said Qatar coach Felix Sanchez. “We didn’t start well. It was a terrible start.”
Senegal will be without Sadio Mane, the Bayern Munich striker who has been ruled out of the tournament with a leg injury. Midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate is also expected to miss Friday’s game with a hamstring injury.
Without Mane at the World Cup, Senegal lost 2-0 to the Netherlands and coach Aliou Cissé is asking for more from strikers Ismaila Sarr and Krépin Diatta.
“We had to be more effective. Ismaila and Krepin are in charge there, but of course Mane’s absence is a problem for us,” said Cisse. “Our attackers are good and we know what they can do. We have to work on that with Ismaila and the others. We expect a lot from him and Krepin.”
Ecuador and the Netherlands have both won their opening games and on Friday striker Enner Valencia will take on striker Memphis Depay.
Valencia scored both of Ecuador’s goals in a 2-0 win over Qatar before leaving with a sore knee but will play on Friday.
“Enner will play against the Netherlands, there’s no doubt about that,” said Ecuador coach Gustavo Alfaro.
Depay returned from a hamstring injury and led the Netherlands in a 2-0 win over Senegal. He came off the bench in that game but wants to start against Ecuador.
“He’s a player who can make the difference,” said Netherlands coach Louis Van Gaal. “He will want to play but I have to assess his form.”
A win for both teams would likely guarantee promotion from Group A.