USA vs. England: 5 Takeaways from USMNT's 2nd World Cup Game

Alex WindleyNovember 25, 2022

USA vs. England: 5 Takeaways from USMNT's 2nd World Cup Game

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    AL KHOR, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: USMNT starting eleven during a FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between England and USMNT at Al Bayt Stadium on November 25, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar. (Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
    John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images

    The United States men's national team played to a 0-0 draw on Friday against England in their second game at the 2022 World Cup.

    In a tactically fascinating, largely uneventful match, U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter changed to a 4-4-2 formation, which gave the Americans more support on the wings and runners on the forward line.

    This switch from their regular 4-3-3 allowed the U.S. to have more control of the ball while hindering the opponent's attack.

    Because of this, they outshot England 10-8.

    B/R Football @brfootball

    Christian Pulisic hits the crossbar 😱<br><br>(via <a href="">@TelemundoSports</a>)<a href=""></a>

    This game was a significant improvement in play compared to the one against Wales last Monday.

    With all to play for against Iran on Tuesday, the U.S. will have gained confidence heading into the match.

    Here are five takeaways from the USMNT's draw vs. England.

Berhalter's Switch to the 4-4-2 Formation Worked

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    U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter
    Adam Pretty - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

    Normally rolling out in a 4-3-3, Berhalter lined up his team in a 4-4-2.

    With England in a 4-2-3-1, the 4-4-2 allowed the U.S. to set up defensively in a midblock, shift from side to side and wait for the English to attack.

    Offensively, this let them go right at the England back line.

    The attacking trio of Haji Wright, Timothy Weah and Christian Pulisic, coupled with the late runs into the box and crosses by Weston McKennie, gave the U.S. directness and fluidity in the final third.

    FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

    Haji Wright is knocking πŸ‘€<a href="">@USMNT</a> <a href=""></a>

    McKennie's setting up on the right let SergiΓ±o Dest roam up and down the flank with ease without the worries of leaving gaps behind.

    Berhalter has long been criticized for his tactics, sometimes heavily. But against England, he got them correct.

Midfield Trio Stymied The Center

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    Yunus Musah (center)
    John Todd/ISI Photos/Getty Images

    The 4-4-2 wouldn't have worked without the midfield trio of Yunus Musah, Tyler Adams and McKennie.

    Tasked with defending Mason Mount, Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice, the three worked well together to stop them from progressing.

    Though McKennie was lined up as a right winger, his impact was felt.

    JuveFC @juvefcdotcom

    McKennie vs England <br><br>Total passes 31<br>Accurate passes 28 <br>Pass success 90% <br>Key passes 1/1 <br>Attempted tackles 2/2 <br>Successful tackles 2/2 <br>Tackle success 100% <br>Clearances 1/1<br>Shots 2/2 <a href=""></a>

    The 24-year-old was lively, helping in attack and halting the progress of England's wide players in defense.

    Adams, again, was his usual tough-tackling self. He ended the match with eight recoveries, two clearances and four passes into the final third.

    Musah, the more advanced of the three, also held his own. The 19-year-old linked the attack and defense well.

    He got himself into dangerous positions, and his movement made it difficult for England's defenders to track him.

    It's hard to see Berhalter dropping any of these three players.

    Though there are shouts to start Giovanni Reyna or Brendan Aaronson, McKennie, Musah and Adams are the three Berhalter favors the most.

Pulisic Does Everything but Score

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    The United States' Christian Pulisic
    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Not surprisingly, Pulisic was the main attacking threat against England.

    His performance showed he will be the key for the U.S. if they want to not only win against Iran but also make it far in the knockout rounds.

    The 24-year-old's ability to take the ball in the half spaces, turn quickly and drive at defenses worked well in the 4-4-2.

    With Antonee Robinson's staying wide and running up the flanks, Pulisic was able to cut inside, dribble on his favored right foot and get several shots off.

    He ended the match with four shots, seven passes into the final third and one created chance.

    His heroics saw him pick up the Man of The Match Award as well.


    Christian Pulisic wins MOTM vs. England πŸ‘πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ <a href=""></a>

Fullbacks Were Instrumental Offensively

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    England forward Bukayo Saka and USA defender Antonee Robinson fight for the ball.
    PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

    The overlapping runs of Dest and Robinson gave Pulisic and Weah the freedom to play in the half-spaces and cut inside without sacrificing space in behind.

    Alex Windley @aaw_1998

    Dest and Robinson's heatmaps vs England.<br><br>Really loved how the 4-4-2 allowed them to get them into attack more - particularly Robinson.<a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USMNT</a> <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FIFAWorldCup</a> <a href=""></a>

    Robinson gave England problems using his pace. He ended the match with seven recoveries, two interceptions and two passes into the final third.

    Dest, on the other hand, was the more reserved fullback out of the two. Oftentimes, he'd venture forward, only to tuck insideβ€”almost playing like a central midfielder to bolster numbers in midfield for the U.S.

    His positioning saw him further up the field than England expected.

    This led to his getting goalscoring opportunities. Unfortunately, he couldn't quite capitalize on his chances.

    𝐀𝐅𝐂 𝐀𝐉𝐀𝐗 πŸ’Ž @TheEuropeanLad

    πŸ“Έ - Dest close but Maguire manages to block the shot.. <a href=""></a>

Defense Holds Back England Attack

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    Tim Ream of United States defends Bukayo Saka of England.
    Elsa/Getty Images

    For the amount of criticism Walker Zimmerman received because of his blunder against Wales, he more than made up for it with his performance against England.

    He was calm, defensively alert and showed off his passing range, completing 88 percent of the passes he attempted.

    Likewise, his center-back partner, Tim Ream, continued his good form.

    The 35-year-old held off Harry Kane and man-marked him out of the game. His defensive performance limited the Englishman to only 39 touches.

    In the same vein, the duo both had a clean game.

    With Ream on a yellow card (as is McKennie and Dest), the teamwide mistake-free performance means Berhalter will have all 26 players to choose from in a pivotal game vs. Iran.