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After opening the World Cup with a draw to Wales, the United States mens national team will face an uphill battle to qualify from Group B. Its not out of the question for them to make it to the last 16 because they dont have an easy matchup over the horizon with a Black Friday clash with England on Nov. 25. There are a lot of connections between the two teams, even down to Gregg Berhalter describing Gareth Southgate as a mentor. On Friday, theyll be pitted against each other for group supremacy.
England boast one of the more impressive performances of Matchday 1 with a 6-2 victory over Iran while the United States struggled to get shots off against a plucky Wales side. But dont let the recent results fool you into thinking that the Three Lions cant be beaten. Its true that the United States will need to be close to perfect, but in midfield and defense, there is joy to be had if Berhalter can push the right buttons.
If Southgate runs out the same lineup again, Harry Maguire and John Stones arent a great central pairing and although Declan Rice is an excellent midfielder, he cant shut down the entire center of the pitch alone. But since the USMNT cant just rely on the space to be there, what are the keys to a successful performance?
This is a no-brainer since Berhalter has stated that Gio Reyna will be involved in the match after precautions were taken due to muscle soreness to not use him against Wales. That triggered an awkward situation where Reyna declared himself fit and said that he was prepared to be involved. While thats a common scenario for athletes, now is the time for Reyna to back those words up. One of three teenagers on the U.S. roster, Reyna may be the most talented player of the bunch. Reyna is raw, but fearless dribbling through the center of the pitch which could draw England out of their positions and create space for Christian Pulisic or a patented later run into the box by Weston McKennie.
Even if Reyna is only fit to go for 30 minutes, those minutes against tired English legs could be the difference between a loss and a draw. Everything needs to be left on the pitch with four days to recover between this match and the group stage finale against Iran.
Listen below and follow In Soccer We Trust: A CBS Sports Soccer Podcast where your three favorite former USMNT players cover everything you could possibly want to know about the United States mens national team during the World Cup in Qatar.
Josh Sargent failed to find the back of the net as one of his headers came inches from the post. Sargent managed to drag defenders out of position and create space for Tim Weah and Pulisic to run into. Looking back at Weahs goal against Wales, it starts with Sargent dragging Joe Rodon into no mans land. After already doing that, Sargent was able to head down a ball to Pulisic as Weah slid into the space that Rodon was supposed to cover. It was picture perfect.