World Cup 2022: What you need to know about USA-England

TThe first time the US men’s national team faced England in a World Cup in 1950, a miracle happened. The hastily assembled US team – made up in part of amateur players working day jobs as teachers, dishwashers and mail carriers – knew England had the stronger side. “We certainly didn’t entertain any idea that we were going to beat them,” former US defender Harry Keough said decades later. “But we thought we could give them a fight for it.”

That battle ended in the 37th minute of the first half, when Haitian-born USA forward Joe Gaetjens managed to pass the ball just enough to sink it into the English goal. England never recovered and the match ended in a 1-0 USA victory. The result was so unbelievable that many news outlets including New York Timesassumed the reported score was a typo.

USA forward Joe Gaetjens cheers for fans after the USA beat England 1-0 during a World Cup soccer match in Belo Horizonte, Brazil on June 28, 1950.

AP

The last surviving member of the 1950 USA squad died in 2018, and few people alive today will remember that match. Still, his legacy looms large over the soccer rivalry between the United States and England, whose teams are scheduled to face off at Doha’s Al Bait Stadium on Friday. The last time these two nations met was more than 10 years ago in the men’s World Cup in South Africa. It ended with a 1-1 draw. Although England are favorites to win this match in Qatar, American fans are hoping that their team can make a miracle again.

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More recent history doesn’t bode well for the U.S. — despite the success of the U.S. women’s national team. Against England in particular, the US men’s team lost the vast majority of their matches – in fact, except for a group-stage victory at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil and a 2-0 win at the 1993 USA Cup. Team USA is noticeably younger and less experienced than the Three Lions (as the English squad is known) who came to Qatar with impressive performances during last year’s UEFA European Championship and the 2018 World Cup.

But if the past is any guide, neither side should make any assumptions about how Friday’s game will play out. England coach Gareth Southgate warned against complacency at Monday’s post-match press conference, noting that Team USA will “come full force for us.” American midfielder Christian Pulisic also issued a warning a few days before the tournament. “We’re not looking at odds and we’re not at the World Cup just to make up the numbers,” he said. Daily Mirror. “We go, we give it our all in every game we play, we make America proud. Where that takes us, we’ll have to wait and see.”

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of game day.

When is the game on and how can I watch it in the US?

Kickoff is scheduled for Friday, November 25 at 2:00 PM ET. Viewers in the US can watch the match live on FOX or via various streaming options.

How have both teams fared in the tournament so far?

Both teams will enter Al-Beit Stadium on Friday unbeaten. England kicked off the 2022 World Cup with a 6-2 win over Iran on Monday. The USA took an early lead against Wales that day with a stunning goal from striker Timothy Weah, but the match ended in a tie after Wales captain Gareth Bale’s penalty.

Forward Timothy Weah hugs his teammates after scoring the USA’s first goal during the 2022 World Cup match against Wales at Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium, November 21, 2022 in Qatar.

Jewel Samad—AFP/Getty Images

Read more: Team USA drew 1-1 with Wales in the opening game of the World Cup

In terms of points that will determine which two teams advance to the play-offs in Group B, England lead the leaderboard with three points, followed by the United States and Wales with one point each, and Iran with zero. Assuming a win over Iran next week, which is shaping up to be the USA’s easiest (though by no means guaranteed) match at this stage of the tournament, a win or draw against England on Friday would put the USA in a strong position to do just that. If Team USA advances, it will face one of the top two teams in Group A, which includes the Netherlands, Ecuador, Senegal and host country Qatar. But a loss to England could dampen those hopes.

How much history informs this match?

The USA and England have developed a healthy and sometimes even memorable soccer rivalry over the years. While U.S. players may call themselves “free” at this World Cup, American fans know the team has the ability to pull off upsets against the sport’s giants, beating Brazil in the 1998 CONCACAF Gold Cup and Portugal in the 2002 World Cup. , and of course England in 1950.

According to Geoffrey Douglas, author of the 1996 book, when the USA defeated the Three Lions in Brazil 72 years ago, the news barely registered at home. The Game of Their Lives, chronicled the story of the match and those who participated in it. When the players returned home after being kicked out, they discovered that “nobody knew anything about it,” Douglas tells TIME, noting that soccer as a sport was “just not on the radar.” were games like baseball and football. It wasn’t until decades later—as soccer grew in importance and the story of the 1950 World Cup began to be recounted in popular culture, including a 2005 film based on Douglas’ book—that Americans began to learn more about their country’s history. he got angry.

Read more: Your complete guide to the USA Men’s National Team at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

While Team USA will feel they have something to prove, England will also see this match as an important match to win the race for World Cup glory. After all, the Three Lions have suffered heartbreaking defeats in recent international competitions, including a penalty shoot-out loss to Italy in last year’s European Championship final and a semi-final loss to Croatia during the 2018 World Cup. The pressure to finally provide it football is coming homeThe famous rallying cry of English fans, the sport that the Americans call soccer, the country’s invention, will have a heavy impact on Southgate’s team.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of both teams?

Southgate’s England team was often criticized for being too defensive and too cautious. Team USA faces the opposite problem of not having a solid defense in their backline.

But England are considered favorites to win this game and for good reason. England have seen a revival under Southgate, bolstered in part by a young but internationally-tested squad that includes a number of rising stars such as 21-year-old striker Bukayo Saka.

England representative Bukayo Saka celebrates scoring two of the 6 goals scored by “Three Lions” against Iran after the final whistle. Manager Gareth Southgate walks in the background at the Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar, November 21, 2022.

Robert Michael—image alliance/dpa/AP

Even with their younger players, England field one of the most international-class squads at this tournament – their captain Harry Kane was the top scorer at the 2018 World Cup. The USA claims to be one of the youngest teams with an average age of 25, second only to Ghana. The youth of the American players can be seen as an asset when it comes to the energy and intensity they can bring. It could also be seen as a disadvantage: The absence of Team USA from the 2018 event means the team has almost no World Cup experience, with the exception of 2014 veteran DeAndre Yedlin.

Read more: Tyler Adams is the World Cup Captain Team USA desperately needs

Despite this, the current USA squad has players brought in from the best professional teams in the world, including teams competing in Europe’s toughest leagues. “We’ve never had a club team with so many players playing at such a high level,” says Djorn Buchholz, executive director of the National Football Hall of Fame in Texas, sitting on the bench but starting.

How important is this World Cup for the United States?

While Team USA is busy with the current World Cup, it will no doubt be thinking about 2026, when the United States will host the competition against neighbors Mexico and Canada.

“As long as they can stay healthy and continue to play at a high level, you’ll see them making the World Cup in 2026,” Buchholz says. “And I think that’s going to be incredibly useful for us in 2026.”

Bolstered by home-court advantage, an older, more experienced USA team could emerge as a serious contender four years from now — one that has the potential to take on any national team, not just England. At least that’s what fans like Buchholz hope. After all, miracles can happen.

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write to Yasmeen Serhan at yasmeen.serhan@time.com.