USA vs. England – We Get No Respect

On the eve of the United States vs. England World Cup match one thing is becoming increasingly clear: England has very little respect for the soccer prowess of the U.S.. From the English perspective, this game is being treated like a 1 seed vs a 16 seed in the NCAA tournament. The English coach, my paesan Fabio Capello, held a nine-minute press conference today and did not mention the United States once!

In England, all the talk is about whether their talented squad can make it all the way to the final game. Advancing out of the group stage is being treated as a foregone conclusion – and rightfully so given the bottom two teams in the group.

The Brits, with all their passion for soccer, are apparently not too interested in attending tomorrow's match. According to FIFA, United States fans have purchased 8,000 tickets for the game, compared to the 2,000 sold to the English fans.

Clearly, this game is more important to United States than it is to England. Although a U.S. team shocked England 1-0 in the World Cup 60 years ago, historically, England has been far superior to the U.S..

Does the U.S. deserve any respect?

This game will be a great test for the United States. Top to bottom, the English squad is loaded with talent. Wayne Rooney is one of the world's great strikers. He has been in great form lately, and will be very tough for the back line to contain. Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are very exciting players in the middle of the field for England. They both excel in the English Premier League, and are key cogs in the engine of the national squad. In the back, John Terry who has had a tough time staying out of the tabloids due to a sex scandal, is one of the most stalwart defenders on the planet, plus he seems to have a knack for scoring key goals with his head.

The U.S., on the other hand, has a several players who play in the EPL, but none are viewed as being on the same level as England's top players. Dempsey and Donovan have had some measure of success in England, but they will need to be in perfect form on Saturday if the U.S. is to upset the Three Lions.

A U.S. win would be monumental for U.S. soccer, and an embarrassing defeat for England. It would also put the Americans in great shape to advance past the group round, while serving as a loud wake-up call for England.

If this was a single-elimination tournament, I would give a big edge to England in this game. But, since England can suffer a defeat and still advance, I don't believe they will treat this game with the same amount of urgency as the U.S. team. The Americans are not only trying to advance through the group round, but they are trying to erase some bad memories from winless 2006 World Cup which began with a 3-0 loss to the Czechs.

The United States has been playing well heading into the World Cup. The English have been scuffling a bit. England played great early in qualifying, but seemed to trail off after they had secured a spot in South Africa. England has also been bitten by the injury bug, with David Beckham and Captain Rio Ferdinand both out for the entire tournament.

I think the U.S. has a fighting chance in this one. If they can avoid some early jitters and a disastrous start, the U.S. can certainly prove it belongs on the same field as England. I'd still be surprised if the U.S. pulled out a win, but a draw is a reasonable expectation for the Americans.

-Fred

ABC6 Stormtracker Chief Meteorologist is the resident soccer fanatic in the newsroom. His passion for the game extends from just being a fan to being a player and coach on the weekends. Fred will continue to provide regular updates on his view of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.