Big, bad England won’t be all that intimidating when the USMNT sees them up close at the World Cup

DOHA, Qatar – Gone are the days of England beating the United States as soon as they appeared.

American men are not arrogant enough to call themselves the equals of England, or to suggest that they are close to it. They know their history against England, each with two wins and a draw in 11 meetings. know how Scary good those three lionswith this starting lineup being Who’s Who of soccer.

They have witnessed England’s recent success, reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and the finals of the European Championship two years later. They are well aware that England is one of the favourites, here in Qatar.

But the Americans aren’t about to give up on Friday night’s World Cup game.

“I wouldn’t say there are many things that scare me other than spiders,” US Captain Tyler Adams said Thursday. “Obviously, I have a chance to play against all of these great players, and I’ve done it before. We also want to show what we’re capable of, and that American football is growing and developing in the right way.”

There are a number of reasons why England no longer have a dominant psychological advantage over the USMNT, but they can be summed up in one word: familiarity. English football is more accessible than ever to Americans, players and fans alike.

England’s Harry Kane during training on Thursday.

For most of the past decade, young players have been able to get up early on weekends, park themselves in front of a screen and watch almost every EPL game. Instead of distant characters whose exploits were described in legendary fashion, the game’s biggest stars were suddenly there, their skills and playstyle to be admired, analyzed, and emulated.

Well, these guys are in their late teens and early twenties now. They respect Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham, but they are not afraid of them.

Many of them know the England players personally.

Of the 26 players on the US squad for Qatar, six play in the English Premier League. They don’t have to wonder or worry about the size of the gap between them and the England players because they get a measure of it every game. In some cases, every day.

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Matt Turner knows just how good Saka and Ben White are as he faces them in training at Arsenal. Christian Pulisic works alongside Sterling and Mason Mount at Chelsea.

“We laughed (after the equaliser),” said Pulisic. “It’s great to get to play against a lot of friends in that game. We’re looking forward to it, it’s definitely going to be fun.”

Oh, and Gio Reina’s best friend at Borussia Dortmund? This will be Bellingham.

“We really feed off each other, on and off the field. He’s an amazing player, an amazing guy,” Reina said.

“What sets him apart is his ability to do everything. I don’t think there are a lot of things you point to that he can’t do,” added Rina. “Of course he’s competitive. If you want to reach the highest level, you have to be competitive.”

Americans as well.

this is The group is young, but she has a very clear idea of ​​what she wants to achieve. His players have broken through the ranks of many top clubs in England and across Europe, and now they want to raise the prestige of the national team.

It means showing that they can go toe-to-toe with the best teams, including England.

“It’s clearly a huge opportunity to accelerate the impact that can be made,” Adams said. “It’s a special, pressure-filled moment to get on the court against some of these guys. When you get a score in a game like this, people start to respect Americans a little bit more.”

England manager Gareth Southgate does not need to be convinced.

Asked Thursday about the 2010 World Cup, when the USMNT and England were drawn into the same group, most of them dismissed the Americans’ chances. The American men ended up tied with England and won the group.

“Have we ever beaten the USA in a major tournament? No, I didn’t think so,” Southgate said, referring to England’s 0-1-1 record against the American men at the World Cup. “We are very good at speaking at length about ourselves as a nation On the basis of very little evidence.”

England has earned the right to brag about themselves a bit, and the USMNT will be the first to say so. But there is a difference between respecting the opponent and fearing him.

England will have many advantages over the Americans. Intimidation will not be one of them.

Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armor on Twitter @rrarmour.

This article originally appeared in the USA TODAY: England won’t be totally intimidating when the USMNT takes on a World Cup team