World Cup Viewer’s Guide: The United States seeks a repeat of the upset 1950’s
By Gina Fryer, Associated Press national writer
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The first time the United States faced England in the World Cup, the hastily assembled American team was a batter’s ensemble that included a postman, a gravedigger, a dishwasher and a schoolteacher.
Few players had met before they headed to Brazil in 1950 to take on a mighty England, and the United States’ shock 1-0 win is often likened to the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” victory over the Soviet Union at Lake Placid The Olympics are among the biggest moments in History of American Sports.
The disparity between soccer’s two national teams is not so wide after nearly 72 years as England and the United States prepare for Friday’s Group B play-offs. Face England.
The Americans are the underdogs after a 1-1 draw with Wales, while England crashed out of their opening 6-2 victory over Iran.
“England are still a big team at the end of the day, but the intimidation factor? I wouldn’t say there are a lot of things that scare me, other than spiders,” said Adams, who plays for Leeds in the Premier League.
“It’s fine for me, but obviously I have to play against all these big players, so I’ve done it before. But we also want to show what we’re capable of and that American football is developing and growing in a right way.”
But the Americans’ victory in 1950 was a rare victory over England, who had won eight of their 11 ties against the United States. The upside? None of those victories were World Cup matches, and the second meeting between the two teams on football’s biggest stage ended in a 1-1 draw in 2010.
US midfielder Christian Pulisic doesn’t want to hear about stats, standings or predictions. The Americans failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and, after the opening draw, tied Wales with one point each in the battle to advance to the knockout stage.
England lead the group with three points. A win or tie on Friday would put the Americans in a decent position to be one of the two teams to qualify.
“We don’t look at the odds, and we’re not in the World Cup just to make up the numbers,” said Pulisic. “We go and give our all in every game we play, and make America proud. Wherever that takes us we’ll have to wait and see.”
An England victory would put the Three Lions into the last 16 with one match remaining, but manager Gareth Southgate warned against complacency after Iran’s opening win.
England captain Harry Kane, top scorer in the 2018 World Cup, injured his ankle against Iran and defender Harry Maguire left the match in the 70th minute with blurred vision. Keane has trained with the team in recent days and is expected to play on Friday, while Maguire has indicated he will be playing in what will be his 50th appearance for the national team.
Southgate had told his team that they had to be better against the USA than they had been against Iran, and thought the two late goals conceded proved England had gone sloppy at the end of that game.
England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford said: “It’s a big country with a lot of great players who have played in the Premier League that we’ve played against.” “But it’s about us as a team 100%. It’s about taking the score from Iran and getting into the US game on a positive note.”
Qatar is returning to action after becoming the first host nation in World Cup history to lose its first match, losing 1-0 to Ecuador on the opening night of the tournament.
Qatar gets another chance to beat Senegal, who also lost their opening match.
“There is a lot of room for improvement. Perhaps it was the responsibility and the nerve that got the better of us,” said Qatar coach Felix Sanchez. We didn’t start well. It was a terrible start.”
Senegal is without Bayern Munich striker Sadio Mane, who was ruled out of the tournament due to a leg injury. Midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate is also expected to miss Friday’s game with a hamstring injury.
Without Mane in the World Cup, Senegal lost to the Netherlands 2-0 and coach Aliou Cisse is demanding more strikers Ismaila Sarr and Krepin Diata.
“We needed to be more effective. Ismailia and Crepin are in charge there, but of course, Mane’s absence is a problem for us. Our strikers are good and we know their abilities. We need to work on it with Ismailia and others. We expect a lot from him and Krepin.
Gareth Bale scored a late penalty to help Wales equalize with the United States in their opening match and was delighted to be awarded a starring role on his World Cup debut.
The 33-year-old Bale, who plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy in the American League, did not hesitate when he was called to take the penalty kick.
“It was always going to be me. No doubt I felt I had to step up, and I was happy to do so,” Bell said.
The Asian team will miss goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand, who will miss due to injury. He was allowed to continue by Iranian medical staff after colliding with a teammate in the opening match but later collapsed on the pitch and was taken to a local hospital. Hossein Hosseini, the backup, should be auditioned by Bell.
Iran, who qualified for the last two World Cups, has never qualified for the knockout round.
Ecuador and the Netherlands have both won their opening matches and Friday’s fixture will see Ener Valencia take on forward 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 is no doubt about that,” said Ecuador coach Gustavo Alfaro.
Depay returned from a hamstring injury to captain the Netherlands in their 2-0 win over Senegal. He came off the bench in that game but wants to start against Ecuador.
“He is a player who can make the difference,” said Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal. “He will want to play, but I have to assess his level.”
A win for either team will likely guarantee progression out of Group A. ___
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