Tuesday, May 27, 2008

USA-England Preview

In case you were wondering, while the focus of this blog is the game in Europe, I remain first and foremost a fan of Team USA. With the Americans headed to Wembley for a Wednesday friendly, it seems like a good time to check in with Bob Bradley's crew. With the exception of injured midfielder Benny Feilhaber, the U.S. will bring all their top stars to London, led by Landon Donovan who will earn his 100th cap.

The U.S. learned a valuable lesson at the 2006 World Cup- beating up on the weaklings in CONCACAF does not adequately prepare you to play the world's best. With that in mind, the U.S. has scheduled a much more imposing slate of friendlies, with matches against England, Spain and Argentina over the next two weeks. The U.S. already has three wins since October over Euro 2008 participants Switzerland, Poland and Sweden.

England, of course, are not Euro 2008 participants. Fabio Capello is using the summer to take a look at a handful of youngsters in advance of 2010 World Cup qualifying, which begins in September. But the line-up tomorrow remains loaded with familiar names such as Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and David Beckham. Of greatest interest will be the play of captain John Terry, donning the armband one week after his critical PK miss in the Champions League Final.

The English fans and media like to think the national side is one of the world's elite, although there's not much evidence to back that up over the last 42 years. One dillusional columnist thinks England are good enough to win Euro 2008. There's just the nagging matter of their failure to qualify. The U.S. has played well enough since Germany that a strong showing tomorrow should suprise no one. Here's hoping the stars and stripes play up to their potential.

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