Category: Steven Gerrard

England Stutter Against Algeria

So this is supposed to be a World Cup contender?

England, picked by more than a few to win this year’s competition and thus end an agonizing 44-year drought, could only manage a 0-0 draw against African minnow Algeria on Friday night. The result means England faces an embarrassing exit at the group stage if it fails to beat plucky Slovenia and the other game, between the U.S. and Algeria, produces a winner.
England boss Fabio Capello, looking increasingly lost, dropped Robert Green after his howler against the U.S. and replacement David James, nearing 40, was faultless. He was one of England’s bright spots.

Capello, despite Steven Gerrard’s solid showing in the center of midfield against the U.S., relegated the captain to the left side Friday after the return of holding midfielder Gareth Barry. Frank Lampard got the nod in the center – and flopped.
Wayne Rooney was almost invisible, and childishly criticized the fans for booing England’s wretched performance. Emile Heskey, good against the U.S., reverted to type. And surprisingly, when Capello hauled off Aaron Lennon in the second half, Shaun Wright-Phillips was preferred to Joe Cole. Ridiculous. England hardly created a chance, and while Algeria didn’t create one, either, the Africans were the more accomplished passers.

England’s worries in central defense mounted. Jamie Carragher picked up a yellow card, so he’s gone for the next game. With Ledley King unavailable, who’ll get the nod to partner John Terry?

The signs don’t look good.

The draw capped a day of surprises in South Africa. Serbia upset Germany 1-0, getting a helping hand from the poor Spanish referee, and the U.S. was held to a 2-2 tie against Slovenia. The Americans rallied from 2-0 down, then had a perfectly good goal disallowed in the dying minutes. The refs finally had an off day.

England-USA Ratings

It certainly didn’t take long for England to suffer more World Cup misery. Cruising 1-0 against the U.S., Robert Green’s howler from Clint Dempsey’s speculative effort allowed the U.S. to tie England 1-1 in their opener Saturday. England controlled the game and had the better opportunities but was unable to find a winner in the second half. Don’t call it atonement, but Green did make a decent save to deny Jozy Altidore and keep it level. [ad#as3]

Mind you, he almost muffed that, too.

Below are DFB’s ratings:


Robert Green – 2. Chosen ahead of David James, Green somehow let Dempsey’s low shot from around 30 yards get past him in the 40th minute. The ball went off his gloves and agonizingly behind him. No excuses. It didn’t move and was tame. He stopped Altidore, but made hard work of it at the near post. He joins David Seaman, Paul Robinson and Scott Carson in England’s goalkeeping Hall of Shame.

Glen Johnson – 7. Johnson did what he does best, venture forward, linking up well with Aaron Lennon.

John Terry – 6. Terry didn’t do much wrong all night, handling the threat of Jozy Altidore well.

Ledley King – 5. King looked mostly assured alongside Terry until yet more injury woes saw him subbed at halftime. He was, though, beaten by Altidore to a header, fortunate the striker flubbed.

Ashley Cole – 7. Cole didn’t go forward as much as usual, keeping an eye on Landon Donovan, but was hardly troubled defensively. Rock solid.

Steven Gerrard – 7. What does Fabio Capello do when Gareth Barry returns? Stick Gerrard back on the left? Not on this display. He gave England the perfect start in the fourth minute and dictated proceedings.

Frank Lampard – 6. Lampard combined well with Gerrard in the center, for a change, and also gave the back four protection. However, he missed from close range late in the second. It’s the kind of chance he gobbles up at Chelsea.

Aaron Lennon – 7. Were you watching, Theo Walcott? This is how you do it. Lennon beat Carlos Bocanegra more than once, creating at least three good chances.

James Milner – 4. Milner has been ill of late. That has to be why he was poor before being subbed late in the first half. Milner wasn’t a threat going forward and couldn’t cope with Steve Cherundolo.

Emile Heskey – 7. Heskey didn’t have many fans before the game, but he sure won them over. Heskey set up Gerrard, won virtually every ball in the air and worked tirelessly. If he was in scoring form, he would have buried his great chance midway in the second half.

Wayne Rooney – 6. Rooney was nowhere to be seen in the first half but picked it up in the second. His cheeky attempt from distance almost caught Tim Howard off guard.


Jamie Carragher – 4. Carragher was beaten for pace by Altidore late in the second and was lucky not to get a second yellow. England’s lack of pace in center of defense is a worry.

Shaun Wright-Phillips – 4. Wright-Phillips ahead of Joe Cole? Wright-Phillips routinely lost possession and shot straight at Howard on a good chance in the second.

Peter Crouch – 5. Hardly had any time to make an impact, although he did win anything that came his way in the air.


Tim Howard – 8. Now that’s how you keep goal. Howard didn’t put a foot wrong. His handling was impeccable and there wasn’t a howler in sight.

Steve Cherundolo – 7. Cherundolo got the better of Milner early on and Cole, when he did venture forward, didn’t get past him.

Oguchi Onyewu – 5. For a guy who hasn’t played much this year, Onyewu wasn’t bad, getting better in the second half.

Jay DeMerit – 5. Like Onyewu, he improved in the second half. There was far too much space between DeMerit and Onyewu in the first. Then again, there was no way Heskey should have been clean through.

Carlos Bocanegra – 5. Bocanegra couldn’t cope with Lennon, as simple as that.

Michael Bradley – 5. Bradley didn’t get the chance to go forward, worrying about Gerrard and Lampard. But he was busy as usual.

Ricardo Clark – 5. Clark was just as busy, guarding the back four. Gerrard did beat him on England’s goal.

Landon Donovan – 6. Donovan’s pace didn’t trouble England, but twice his deliveries from set pieces were spot on. Technically was good.

Clint Dempsey – 6. Dempsey surprisingly had a muted game, yet he scored. Dempsey has never been afraid to shoot from distance, and it paid off for him.

Jozy Altidore – 6. Altidore should have scored in the first half, sending his free header wide. But he held up the ball well and skinned Carragher, stopped by Green. He probably should have shot across goal, though.

Robbie Findley – 4. Probably the most invisible player of the evening.

Stuart Holden – NA.
Edson Buddle – NA.

England v. USA World Cup Match Preview

Kickoff between the U.S. and England at the World Cup is about four hours away. Yes! Finally. [ad#as3]

England will come to a complete standstill, so much so that you wouldn’t be surprised if they run out of lager. Pizza and Indian takeaways will be hot commodities, too. The soccer diehards in the U.S. will be guzzling beer at bars also, while even non-soccer fans are sure to take notice of the beautiful game, if only once.

Ahead of the big game, here are some key players to look out for.

Just for the record, I predict 3-1 England. I’m being conservative.


Oguchi Onyewu, D: Will he or won’t be start? That’s the key question. Onyewu only played one game for A.C. Milan last season because of a knee injury he sustained on international duty and isn’t match fit. He looked rusty in pre-tournament friendlies. If he does get the nod, he’ll have to get the better of Emile Heskey and win the aerial battles. If he doesn’t start, expect Jay DeMerit to partner either Clarence Goodson or Carlos Bocanegra in the middle.

Jonathan Spector, D:
Spector didn’t have a great season at West Ham, and if he starts at left back, look for England’s right-sided midfielder, probably either Aaron Lennon or Joe Cole, to go at him one-on-one. It be a long day for him.

Michael Bradley, M: An action man in midfield, Bradley loves going forward. But in this game, he won’t be allowed to eschew his defensive duties lining up against Frank Lampard and company.

Clint Dempsey, M: Everyone knows Dempsey loves playing in big games, and he’s not averse to shooting from distance. England will be fully aware of his danger, since he has become one of the Premier League’s top midfield scorers – at least outside the Big Four. England will also know plenty about Landon Donovan, given his great spell at Everton.

Jozy Altidore, F: Altidore didn’t score many goals at Hull, but he’s a battering ram. His job will be to win balls in the air so Dempsey and Donovan can pick up the scraps. When he’s on his game, he’s a handful for anyone.


David James, G: It’s always risky business picking James, even though he remains one of the world’s best shot-stoppers and very athletic. It seems like an accident is always waiting to happen. Personally, I’d go with Joe Hart. But who am I to question Don Fabio?

Ledley King, D: King had a great season at Tottenham and is thrust into the starting lineup in Rio Ferdinand’s absence. He looked shaky against Mexico in a recent friendly, despite scoring, and must cope with Altidore and company. The good news for England is that it’s the first game. Who knows if Mr. Fragile will be ready for game two.

Steven Gerrard, M: It’s time for Captain Gerrard, and Lampard, for that matter, to shine in a big game at international level. He’ll be stuck on the left, not his best position, but look for him to cut into the middle, where he’s most effective. England must be aware of counter-attacking possibilities when the Liverpool man (for how much longer?) vacates his spot.

Wayne Rooney, F: Rooney is one of the best strikers in the world, to put it simply. If he’s on his game and in the mood, the U.S. will have no chance. The U.S. might bait him, however, hoping for Rooney to lose his temper and see red.

Emile Heskey, F: Fabio Capello went against his word when he picked Heskey. (He said he’d only pick players in form.) But Heskey partners Rooney well, and like Altidore, will look to win the aerial battles. He better do that, since he can’t hit a barn door and took out Ferdinand.

Enjoy the game everyone!

England v USA preview – 2010 World Cup

Venue: England v USA in Rustenburg – World Cup Group C match
Date: Saturday, June 12, 2010
Match time: 8.30pm local
England v USA Odds: England win 1/2; draw 5/2; USA win 5/1
Key players – England: Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, John Terry. USA: Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore.
Tickets: TBA
England v USA Live Stream [ad#as2]

Predictions –
Greg Neville: A Wayne Rooney double will get England off to the good start they require if they are any chance to break the 44-year World Cup drought. Italian manager Fabio Capello will make sure these superstars mean business in Group C and build off that confidence going into the knockout stage. England 2-0.

Miki Barnett: While the U.S. would love nothing more than to knock off old rivals England like their countrymen did so famously back in 1950, it’s not going to happen. Bob Bradley’s men will be outclassed in this opener but they will be able to bounce back. England to win 3-1.

Frank Finnegan: Well, I’ll be rooting with my heart for the US on June 12, and am trying to remain optimistic, but my head just sees too many factors that point to the opposite. The Yanks have one defender that just had hernia surgery, another who can barely move and clearly cannot get off the ground, and a third whose eyesight seems to have left him due to medication he needs to take. Does not bode well against the English attack. The first 15-20 minutes will tell the story of this match – England will unleash everything at the US early in the match. If the US can withstand that, perhaps they can battle to a draw. My head says otherwise. England 3-1, leaving the Slovenia match as a must-win for the Americans. Rooney, Crouch and Gerrard for England; Dempsey for the US.

Ron Patel: All of a sudden the U.S. has a bit of pressure following last year’s stunning performance at the Confederations Cup. England won’t be taken by surprise, and the duo of Rooney and Crouch will wreak havoc in the uncertain U.S. defense. England to win it 3-0.

Peter Howard: This game is huge for the US. Obviously, the goal is to win, however, it’s more important for the US to not suffer a devastating loss. Play well, even in defeat, and maintain a little confidence, and maybe even some swagger, to carry you through, and hopefully out of, the group stage. However, if England is able to rout the Americans, it could be a demoralizing blow that the US cannot recover from. Look for the US to fall behind early, but to fight back in the second half to keep it close. The US will come up short in a 2-1 defeat.

Alex Michaels: I’m expecting England to make a very nervy start to this year’s World Cup – just as they traditionally always do! I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the U.S. take a first half lead, with Capello giving his players the hairdryer treatment at the break to turn things around. Peter Crouch will come off the bench to snatch a scrappy winner at the end – much to a very relieved England.

Other June 12 matches: Argentina v Nigeria in Johannesburg at 4pm (Argentina win 4/7; draw 2/1; Nigeria 11/8); South Korea v Greece in Port Elizabeth at 1.30pm (South Korea win 7/4; draw 2/1; Greece win 11/8).


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