DOHA, Qatar (AP) England scored six goals in their opening World Cup match against Iran, but they both admit they are a worry for manager Gareth Southgate and provide hope for the United States.
“In the end we looked sloppy,” Southgate said of Monday’s 6-2 win over Iran. He also warned the USA would be “full steam” for Friday’s Group B match.
The tournament has already yielded some shocking results, including Saudi Arabia’s victory over Argentina and Japan’s upset over Germany.
The USA’s victory over England will not be as big as Saudi Arabia’s victory – but Greg Berhalter’s side are undoubtedly the underdogs against one of the tournament favourites.
The two goals scored against Iran gave Southgate something to focus on in an encouraging performance.
His message to the players was clear: they will need to do better against the US side who drew 1-1 with Wales in their opening group match.
“It’s a big country with a lot of great players who’ve played in the Premier League that we’ve played against,” said England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. “But it’s 100% about us as a team. It’s about taking the score from Iran and getting into the US game on a positive note.”
Among those Premier League matches is Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic, the focal point of England’s defence.
“He’s good with both feet, and very clinical,” said Pickford. “We must be wary of him.”
An England victory would see them through to the last 16 with a game still to play – but the fate of Lionel Messi and Argentina is proof that nothing can be taken for granted.
“That’s what football at the World Cup is about,” said Pickford. “There will be surprises.”
USA goalkeeper Matt Turner expects more from them at the World Cup.
“You see the world of football is deteriorating in many ways,” he said. “Teams have plans to play. Teams have invested in their youth academies over a number of years.”
“I think the message is that when you have one team that’s bought into the same message, you can beat anybody any day.”
If the United States are to pull off the final upset of the competition, they will have to contain an England attack that was ruthless in the match against Iran, which included two goals from Bukayo Saka.
“I think he’s clearly one of the young stars of football in the world,” said his Arsenal teammate Turner. “He’s a big, big player and you don’t need me to tell anyone in our team how much of a threat he is in the game. He scores goals in so many ways. He’s really developed and matured.”
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James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson