BRENT LATHAM - Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The USA's second trip to Wembley ended with the same score line as the first had fourteen years ago, as the Stars and Stripes were thoroughly outclassed by an England squad that demonstrated their technical advantage throughout ninety minutes, and came away with a 2-0 home victory.
The USA defense, centered around recently released Fulham defender Carlos Bocanegra and Standard Liege's Oguchi Onyewu, found itself in danger throughout the first period.
David Beckham proved among the hosts' most dangerous weapons, as he swung in cross after cross from the run of play and dead ball situations that had American 'keeper Tim Howard on his toes continuously.
The portrait of Beckham standing over dangerous free kicks from around the USA area was constant in the first half.
Ten minutes in, Beckham located Steven Gerrard who slotted home, only to have the goal called back as the Galaxy star had failed to await the referee's whistle.
That same whistle was constantly sounding, as the US back four scrambled to contain the speed and technical ability of the England team.
On a similar chance in the 23rd minute, Gerrard was again fed by Beckham, only to have Clint Dempsey head the ball out of harm's way.
In the 26th minute, the US attack found Eddie Johnson streaking into the box, but his shot on goal from a stiff angle was snuffed out by England keeper David James.
That only postponed the inevitable, and in the 39th minute, England captain John Terry, shadowed apathetically by Bocanegra, headed home off a free kick. Howard extended at full length but was unable to reach the perfectly placed header, which nestled in the corner of the net to give England the advantage going into halftime.
Right out of the gate in the second half, the US had its best chance of the night, when Heath Pearce carried the ball down the left side and picked out Eddie Johnson 10 yards from goal, but the Fulham forward's one-time volley whizzed harmlessly wide.
The US would create several more half chances, but the lack of quality service on set pieces, especially from DaMarcus Beasley, wasted most of them. When service did reach a danger area, the England back line put on a clinic on how to clear the ball from danger, one which the Americans hopefully will have taken note of.
In the 59th minute, England put the game out of reach. Substitute David Bentley threaded a ball neatly past Onyewu, who could only give chase as Gerrard raced in a coolly finished past a helpless Brad Guzan, who had replaced Howard at the half.
Bob Bradley waited ten more minutes to bring on Fredy Adu for the invisible Josh Wolff, and Eddie Lewis for Beasley.
Neither could change the game much, though Lewis did have one creative moment in which he tricked his way into the box and lofted a clever ball across the area that James had to extend to tip away from an onrushing Dempsey.
The final half an hour proved to be a further demonstration of England's tactical superiority, as, even having made the full number of six changes, Fabio Capello's side continued to string together long combinations of passes, content to watch the clock run out on a rather gray affair for the visitors.
Next up for the US is a visit to Santander to face Spain on June 4th.