Five things to watch during a midweek Ligue 1 feastJan 30 | 6 min read
England 0-0 USA: Three Lions play out drab goalless draw against impressive US side
Gareth Southgate's England are held to a draw in a match of few chances and little attacking intent.
England and USA couldn’t be separated in a tight, cagey match at the Al-Bayt Stadium.
Chances were scarce and neither side truly chased victory, with a point a good enough return for both.
There were some boos at the full-time whistle, though, given the dearth of entertainment many had expected from two countries blessed with plenty of attacking talent.
From the early stages of the game it was clear that USA wouldn’t be as passive and stand-offish as Iran in England’s opening game.
Gregg Berhalter’s side pressed high and energetically, playing with the youthful verve that was visible in the first half of their draw with Wales.
England’s plan appeared to be to retain possession at the back and wait for the right moment to pounce. And it almost proved successful inside ten minutes as Bukayo Saka linked up with Jude Bellingham on the right flank, burst forward and cut back for Harry Kane, whose first-time effort was deflected just wide.
Occasionally, the US were forced to retreat, although they posed a genuine threat when they were able to venture forward. Weston McKennie missed a gilt-edged chance just before the half-hour mark, meeting a wicked delivery with a half-volley in the box which he could only sweep over the bar.
Soon after, the Americans threatened again with another fluid attack, working the ball to Pulisic on the edge of the box. The Chelsea man shifted the ball onto his left foot and drilled a ferocious shot against the crossbar.
A blocked shot from Sergino Dest and a glanced header which flashed wide from Pulisic followed as USA continued to assert themselves, emboldened by England’s increasingly lacklustre performance.
Possession: England 55% - USA 45%
Shots: England 8 - USA 10
Shots on target: England 3 - USA 1
Corners: England 3 - USA 7
There was a brief spark of life late in the half as Luke Shaw pulled back from the byline and Saka blazed a shot over, just before Mason Mount forced a sharp save from Matt Turner with a low shot. But at the break, Berhalter would have been the far happier of the two managers.
A similar pattern continued in the second half: England conservative and seemingly bereft of ideas; USA lively and disciplined in equal measure.
Roared on by their vocal fans behind the goal, a succession of US corners threatened to breach England but Harry Maguire headed each of them away.
Southgate’s team, by the hour mark, had ceded possession and territory, a situation the manager felt necessitated some changes.
Jack Grealish and Jordan Henderson were introduced and there was a renewed energy about England. Chances, though, were almost non-existent in a tepid second half.
There was a sense of frustration in the stadium at England’s risk-averse approach, even if a draw ultimately suited both countries.
A curling shot from Marcus Rashford, on from the bench, didn’t trouble Turner, and a Kieran Trippier corner was headed down by Harry Maguire but was comfortably saved. Kane might have won it late on when he met a free kick with a powerful header, only to guide the ball wide.
And with that, a turgid contest came to an end. England remain in pole position to top the group, but the mood is perhaps less optimistic than after the emphatic win over Iran.