When England and the USA kick off tomorrow, they will do so at absolute primetime on both sides of the Atlantic, and with more World Cup history than you might think.
When is it?
I don’t think organisers could have hoped for a better draw when this fixture came out of the hat. TV broadcasters and FIFA alike will be licking their lips at a contest that could smash viewing records.
Kick-off is at 7pm on a Friday evening in the UK, and pubs will be packed to the rafters. The further England potentially go in the competition, the higher viewership here will rise, but a Friday night clash against a known rival is likely to attract tens of millions.
Stateside, kick-off is at 2pm EST on Black Friday. Best known for its sales, the day after Thanksgiving is a public holiday, and the World Cup won’t have to compete with the traditional feast of NFL games on the Thursday. The primetime World Cup fixture should be accessible to millions tucking into their Turkey leftovers.
The USA’s first match against Wales attracted over 8 million viewers. This is far lower than the USA’s Men’s World Cup record of 18.2 million who tuned into the team’s 2-2 draw with Portugal in 2014. Still, engagement with the Qatar group stages is already up nearly 200 per cent compared to the last tournament. The time-difference and time of year bodes perfectly for an American audience.
Add to that the stakes of the match versus England – it’s not entirely lose and go home for America, but zero points would leave it out of their hands – and it’s a near-perfect storm for the US at this World Cup.
The match will be broadcast on ITV1 in the UK and on FOX in the US.
What is the history of England vs USA at the World Cup?
England and the US have met on football’s biggest stage twice.
Their first encounter came at the Brazil World Cup of 1950. Statistics back then weren’t what they are now. Still, reports from the Estádio Independência in Belo Horizonte said the English had six shots within the opening 12 minutes, including hitting the post twice.
It seems the onslaught continued more or less for the entire 90 minutes, other than in the defining 37th minute, when a glancing header from Joe Gaetjens deflected a US shot past English keeper Bert Williams. The US suddenly had the lead.
As news of the shock scoreline came over Brazilian radio, locals flocked to the stadium to see if an upset was indeed on the cards. The English side – featuring, among others, Alf Ramsey, who would lead England to glory in 1966 – huffed, and they puffed, but 1-0, it would finish. To this day, it remains one of the World Cup’s most surprising ever results.
It was 60 years before the two would meet again, this time in South Africa. During that time, America’s soccer team had progressed exponentially. However an English side featuring the likes of Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and John Terry were still heavily favoured. An early Gerrard goal put England ahead inside five minutes, but a scuffed Clint Dempsey effort led to a now infamous Rob Green howler, and just before half-time, the USA were level.
The game would finish level at 1-1.
Where do both teams stand now?
Despite previous World Cup results and a promising, young American team, England are still firm favourites this time around.
For the English, Captain Harry Kane is confirmed fit after rolling his ankle in the 6-2 thrashing of Iran. Kyle Walker is also expected to be match fit again after recovering from groin surgery earlier this season, though attacking midfielder James Maddison remains sidelined. After that confident start against Iran, though, it seems most likely that England go unchanged.
A disappointing second half from the US saw them kick off their World Cup with a draw against Wales. It means that since that famous victory in 1950, the United States have not kept a single clean sheet in 32 attempts against European opponents.
Arsenal understudy Matt Turner is the USA’s latest no.1, hoping to break that streak. The Premier League influence on the American defence doesn’t end there, with Fulham duo Tim Ream and Antony Robinson starting at centre half and left back respectively.
Leeds midfielder Tyler Adams skippers the side. Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic will be hoping to exploit England’s slight weakness in defence, though the return of Walker may counteract the American pace, with Timothy Weah, son of former Ballon d’Or winner and current Liberian President George Weah, coming off the other flank. Weah netted the USA’s first goal of the campaign against Wales.
England 3-1 USA. It’s coming home.