FIFA World Cup 2010 Predictions: England vs. USA
Day three of the 2010 World Cup continues with the big Group C match, England vs. USA.
We preview all the action and tell you which players you should be watching.
Who will partner Rooney?
This time last year the question about who would partner Wayne Rooney up front for England didn’t exist.
Emile Heskey was Fabio Capello’s preferred choice and was playing well enough for his club to deserve a starting spot.
But the intervening Premier League season has fudged the issue. Heskey has hardly featured for Aston Villa, while England’s other striking options, Jermaine Defoe and Peter Crouch, have had successful seasons with Spurs.
The calls for Heskey to be dropped are intensifying. Some commentators have even suggested that Joe Cole or Steven Gerrard should play just behind Rooney.
Yet despite all the debate,, it is almost a certainty that the Italian will start with the partnership that worked so well for England in the qualifiers.
But then again, everyone also thought Theo Walcott was a certainty.
Goalkeeper is another position that didn’t seem like an issue last year.
David James was the best England had and was probably in the form of his career at Portsmouth.
Twelve months later, a number of injuries leading up to the tournament have placed the 39-year-old’s starting spot in doubt.
England observers feel that Capello has yet to make up his mind and that West Ham’s Rob Green or even 23-year-old Joe Hart could get the nod to face the USA.
USA Striking Options
The United States has a number of talented strikers. If only they could keep them healthy enough to play.
First there was Charlie Davies, whose long recovery from last year’s tragic car accident didn’t happen in time to make coach Bob Bradley’s 23-man roster.
Then bright young hope Jozy Altidore twisted an ankle in training and is struggling to be fit for this opening match against England.
But Bradley still has options. Fulham’s Clint Dempsey frequently plays as a forward for his club side, and some US fans are hoping that LA Galaxy’s Edson Buddle will get a long-awaited opportunity to make an impression.
With England bedding in a new central defensive partnership following the injury to captain Rio Ferdinand, the match might feature an opportunity for a new American striker to become a hero.
The Confederations Cup factor
Last summer the US national team surprised the world with a run to the final of the Confederations Cup in South Africa.
Although the team started the tournament slowly, Bradley’s men hit their stride with a stunning 2-0 win over European champions Spain in the semifinal.
They even led Brazil by two goals in the final before eventually succumbing to the South Americans' superiority.
Now the US returns to the country where they achieved so much and the familiarity of the surroundings, and the psychological boost of such good memories may give the players the advantage they need to surprise England.
Who to Watch: Wayne Rooney (England)
Following the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid, this season saw Wayne Rooney step up as Manchester United’s main man.
Despite the disappointment of a trophy-less season, the 24-year-old comes into the World Cup with 26 league goals under his belt.
The striker is capable of making things happen from nothing, and the US team will expect danger whenever he has the ball.
Rooney is known for his short fuse, so Bradley may ask his defender to try to wind him up.
Who to Watch: Ledley King (England)
The Spurs defender has a longstanding chronic knee problem, which prevents him from training and playing regularly.
Nevertheless, an outstanding season helping his club side clinch a Champions League place for the first time ever led to a call-up from Capello.
The Italian wanted King as backup for his main pairing of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand.
But following Ferdinand’s injury, which ruled the team’s captain out of the tournament, King now looks set to start against the US.
A classy central defender with great positional sense, King nevertheless looked uncomfortable against the pace and trickery of Mexico in a recent friendly match.
Who to Watch: Landon Donovan (USA)
At the start of 2010, most English fans would have had no fear about their team facing the LA Galaxy star.
Playing in the MLS is not looked upon favorably in England, and Donovan’s short spells in Germany were not that successful.
But a loan period at Everton changed all that. Donovan scored twice in 13 games and was named his team’s Player of the Month in January.
England now knows that America’s star midfielder is one to watch.
Who to Watch: Clint Dempsey (USA)
Whether he plays up front or in midfield, the Fulham player is always a goal threat.
After a frustrating season of injuries, Dempsey blew off the cobwebs with a stunning winner in Fulham’s Europa League victory over Italian side Juventus.
US fans will hope that Deuce can repeat such giant-killing exploits against England.
England vs. USA prediction
Our prediction: England
The US will outplay its former colonial overlords, but unlike in 1776 and 1950, England will sneak a lucky victory.