The odds were always going to be against the U.S. Men’s National Team heading into its showdown with World Cup semifinalists England on Thursday. Facing a team that was coming off a strong summer performance at the World Cup, paired with the added energy of Wayne Rooney’s final international appearance was a lot for Dave Sarachan’s side to handle.
A 3-0 loss to the Three Lions at Wembley extended the USMNT’s winless streak to three matches as the hosts showed their class against their youthful opponents. Despite some wonderfully taken goals by Gareth Southgate’s squad, the USMNT had chances to change that scoreline and give them a spark heading into its final match of the calendar year. Sadly that moment never came as the Concacaf side finished second best on the night.
“It was tough, they came out with a lot of energy and that’s how we wanted to start, but we had a few half-chances,” Christian Pulisic said. “I had a really good chance in the first half that I need to score, and I could’ve changed the game. After that they scored two quick ones, and yeah, that’s how soccer is. It changed real quick, and it was just tough for us to recover.”
The best chance for the USMNT offensively fell to the feet of its most dangerous weapon. However, despite a great run by Pulisic the Dortmund midfielder was unable to beat Jordan Pickford from point-blank range. On the ensuing restart, England picked out the USMNT as Jesse Lingard curled home a beauty past veteran Brad Guzan.
Right back Trent Alexander-Arnold added a second for the hosts before halftime, while international debutant Callum Wilson iced the result late in the second-half with a sublime finish. Pulisic cannot be blamed for the entire result as the USMNT rarely posed a threat outside of his effort. The 20-year-old was the lone star of the match for Sarachan’s bunch who lacked intensity and focus on both sides of the pitch.
“We never got close to them, we allowed them too much time and space on the ball and they’re too good,” Guzan said. “They showed in the summer they’re a good team. Individually they’re good players, and then collectively they’re a good team. When you give them time and space, like we did they’re going to pick you apart.”
“The first half we defended for 45 minutes. I think we had one chance, and that was it. In a game like this you’ve got to make sure you’re ready from the start. We were ready, we just never got up to the speed of the game.”
What looked to be an intriguing starting XI put out by Sarachan, underachieved for most of the match. Bobby Wood was ineffective while being called offsides on numerous occasions. Timothy Weah was a non-factor on the wing while Weston McKennie and Wil Trapp had to put in a lot of running off the ball. Defenders John Brooks and Matt Miazga had a tough battle eventually losing to England’s speedy options; Wilson, Lingard, and prodigal 18-year-old Jadon Sancho.
With Sarachan’s reign likely to come to a close next week, the USMNT need end the year on a high. Like the USMNT, Italy are in the midst of a rebuilding period under Roberto Mancini as they try to get back amongst the world’s elite. After some highs and lows under Sarachan, the need of a strong performance against Italy has never been needed more with the team lacking direction.
“You’re never happy to lose 3-0, it’s a tough result tonight,” Pulisic said. “We need to get a lot better as a team. We can talk about continuing gaining experience, but that’s not why we’re here. We want to win now. We want to win these games. I’m a competitive guy, and I know everyone else in that locker room is. It wasn’t good enough today.”
“We have a lot of talent on this team. I think you guys can see that. We have a long way to go, we have a lot of young guys, and I know we can be better. We’re going to improve day by day.”