While England might have opened Friday’s showdown at the Al Bayt Stadium smelling the chance to claim back-to-back Group B victories, the Three Lions put in what was a downbeat display against the USA.
Although Gareth Southgate’s men might have got their Qatar adventure underway with a thumping 6-2 romp against Iran earlier in the week, the European giants had to settle for a 0-0 stalemate.
Despite looking to essentially book their spot in the knockout stage as Group B winners here, England flattered to deceive and were second best all over the pitch.
Failing to ask any real questions of the USA and knowing that they will likely come under more scrutiny back home, Southgate’s side also missed out on the chance to lay down another World Cup marker.
Crashing back down to earth with a nightmare performance, we have taken a look at the main talking points.
Southgate gets it all wrong
Opening up their World Cup adventure with that thumping 6-2 victory against Iran earlier in the week, many England fans were excited by what could have been a more attacking approach from Southgate.
However, although Southgate might have elected to go with the same starting XI here, the Three Lions failed to get out of second gear and it was clear that things needed to be altered after the opening exchanges.
Nevertheless, after losing their elite Nations League status earlier in the year after failing to win any of their six League A appearances, it was a similar story for England on Friday night.
Waiting until deep into the second-half before making substitutions, Southgate’s decision to replace Jude Bellingham with Jordan Henderson was one call that would have caused plenty of frustration.
Clearly still adamant that he wants to stick with an ultra-defensive approach, Southgate once again showed why many feel that this current crop of players needs a manager who is willing to offer a more dynamic philosophy.
Likewise, with Chelsea’s Mason Mount somehow lasting the whole 90 minutes despite a nightmare performance, questions will be asked ahead of England’s final Group B appearance.
USA will be believing
Although almost all of the focus ahead of Friday’s showdown might have been about whether England could lay down another Group B marker, the USA had always fancied that they could spring an upset in Qatar.
Despite eventually having to settle for a late 1-1 draw against Wales earlier in the week after a second-half collapse, the Stars and Stripes put in what was an eye-catching display here.
Knowing that they still have a real chance of punching their knockout stage ticket and finding a route out of Group B, the USA caused England a string of issues at the Al Bayt Stadium.
Watching Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic rattle Jordan Pickford’s crossbar and Weston McKennie spurn a golden chance from inside the box, Gregg Berhalter’s men should find the mood in their camp at a high.
While the USA might have been somewhat disappointed after not collecting maximum points on Friday night, they certainly picked up an immediate response here.
Lifting the Gold Cup last year following a famous 1-0 victory against Mexico, Berhalter’s side will be looking to build on their display in Al Khor. The Stars and Strips will be next seen on Tuesday when they meet Iran in what is a huge opportunity for both countries.
What do England do with Kane?
Although England might have opened their Group B campaign as they hit Iran for six earlier in the week, there were some concerns that Harry Kane failed to get himself on the scoresheet.
While it might have been confirmed prior to Friday’s showdown that the Tottenham talisman had overcome a mild knock to his ankle, the 29-year-old was a complete passenger here.
Remarkably having more touches in his own 18-yard box than the USA’s, it has been continuously suggested that Kane does not flourish in his deeper lying role in Southgate’s set-up.
Although the Three Lions’ skipper might have already racked up 12 Premier League strikes since opening the 2022/23 campaign, Kane has failed to find any kind of clinical edge in Qatar.
Arguably still showing a hangover from his knock against Iran on Monday, England are desperate for the reigning Golden Boot winner to find top gear sooner rather than later.
England: Pickford, Trippier, Stones, Maguire, Shaw, Bellingham, Rice, Saka, Mount, Sterling, Kane
Subs: Grealish, Henderson, Rashford
USA: Turner, Dest, Zimmerman, Ream, Robinson, Pulisic, Musah, Adams, McKennie, Wright, Weah
Subs: Moore, Aaronson, Reyna
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Jesus Valenzuela