World Cup: U.S. plays England to scoreless tie in group play

Football is not always about winning and losing. Sometimes it’s about how you play the game.

Take Friday’s World Cup game between the United States and world No. 5 England. Not long ago, the United States would have all but conceded before kick-off.

No longer. That night, in a game that ended in a goalless draw, it was the Americans who were in control. They beat the English and overtook them, overtook them and outflanked them.

It used to be the other way around.

And although the USA lacked the exclamation point of a goal, the draw did give them something just as important as a win. It has given Americans confidence knowing they have a place in the conversation when the best teams in the game are discussed.

“This team has come a very long way,” said Chelsea and US midfielder Christian Pulisic. “We should be proud of the achievement, but above all it should inspire confidence.”

The US got here by rewriting a narrative that once said Americans weren’t good enough, savvy enough, or technical enough to compete with the best teams in the world. That’s clearly a myth busted with 17 members of the US squad either playing in England or for a major top flight club in Europe.

“I’m not sure who thinks that. Look at the team, they have some really good players,” said England midfielder Jordan Henderson.

“Tonight,” said England manager Gareth Southgate of America’s performance, “didn’t surprise me one bit.”

It shouldn’t. Two games into this World Cup, the USA have already played the top two teams in Great Britain, where the sport was invented. And the Americans are undefeated.

England's Harry Kane reacts after missing a scoring opportunity against the United States on November 25, 2022.

England’s Harry Kane reacts after missing a scoring opportunity against the United States.

(Ebrahim Noroozi/Associated Press)

They are also without a win as their games against Wales and England both ended in a draw. But the two points put the US in control of its own destiny and head into Tuesday’s group stage final with Iran. If you win this game, the Americans will be in the round of 16 for the fourth time in five World Cups.

Anything else and your tournament is over.

“Any time you’re in a World Cup and you go into the final group game to decide your fate, that’s a pretty good thing,” said USA coach Gregg Berhalter.

The Americans said before the game they would give up possession and try to exploit England on the break, and they did just that in an entertaining first half. Despite England being on the ball for almost twice as long as the USA, the Americans had the best chances when Haji Wright, a former England youth international, and Pulisic both narrowly missed a header and Weston McKennie flicked a shot over the net from the center of the box and Pulisic hit a left-footed shot off the bar.

The USA dominated particularly in midfield where Wright, McKennie and Tyler Adams, with much help from Pulisic, plagued England all night.

England’s most dangerous opportunities came at either end of the first half when Walker Zimmerman blocked a Harry Kane shot that seemed to go into the net in the 10th minute and US keeper Matt Turner dived to press Mason Mount’s low right goal . footed blast just under in injury time.

FILE - The branding will be on display near the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center in Doha, Qatar on March 31, 2022

⚽ World Cup 2022 in Qatar

It boded well for the USA, as England have not won a World Cup game without a goal at half-time since 2006. It wouldn’t win that one either – and it wouldn’t lose it either, although Kane scared the Americans with a second-half stoppage-time header that went just wide of the post.

Friday’s game was the 20th World Cup game the USA have played against European rivals since beating England in the 1950 tournament, and they have won just one of those 20. That didn’t change on Friday, but the shutout was the first against a European rival in the World Cup in 72 years.

“We’re making progress,” Adams said, “and moving in the right direction.”

USA coach Gregg Berhalter follows the action against England on November 25, 2022. (

US coach Gregg Berhalter follows the action against England. “Any time you’re in a World Cup and you go into the final group game and you control your destiny, that’s a pretty good thing,” he said.

(Andre Penner / Associated Press)

Nevertheless, the mood afterwards was more frustrated than euphoric.

“We played well enough to get three points and defended well enough to get three points,” added Fulham and United States defender Tim Ream. “Not having that lets her off the hook.”

The US have just three days to rest and recuperate before taking on Iran, who leads the US by one point in the group standings after beating Wales by two goals in added time on Friday. The top two teams in the group of four advance to the knockout rounds, and USA won’t get there without a win.

“It has been a three-year journey with many ups and downs. Now that we’ve arrived here and tested ourselves against good, quality opponents, it feels good,” said Adams, who plays for Leeds United in England. “But we cannot be satisfied with ourselves.”

Pulisic added: “The job is nowhere near done. We have a lot to do.” World Cup: U.S. plays England to scoreless tie in group play

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