By Ryan Fleming
The United States Men’s Soccer Team are used to being underdogs. It’s a role they are starting to marvel in. If the Yanks want a chance against England, one of the favorites to win the World Cup, there’s a few players they’ll have to shut down.
First and foremost Oguchi Onyewu and Co. will have to eliminate Wayne Rooney. Rooney, one of the best strikers in the world, will have just as much, if not more pressure on his shoulders than say, Kaka of Brazil, or David Villa and Fernando Torres of Spain. So, his effort will be unmatched.
Rooney has the type of body to nudge defenders off the ball and the type of speed to glide by them and finish off opportunities never mind the power to drive the ball by an opposing keeper in a blink of an eye. He should be priority No.1 for Onyewu, Jay DeMerit and the Yanks.
Jermain Defoe, fellow striker alongside Rooney, will also be counted on to provide some offensive spark for the Three Lions. The Tottenham Hotspur forward, plays a bit different than his partner. Defoe uses his finesse to wiggle his way around defenders, and has a dependable finish to boot. Defoe won’t think twice about testing a shot from range, either. The 26-year-old could play a role as a substitute off the bench for England; a place where Defoe has had much of his success internationally.
No player on England has more speed than perhaps Aaron Lennon. Watching a lot of Spurs games, you can see almost immediately that Lennon can create something out of nothing and has the fastest feet on the pitch. Sometimes, though, Lennon’s feet can get him in trouble. Lennon has been known to either boot away an attempt or muff a shot straight at the opposing keeper, completely foiling his team’s chances. U.S. defenders should close down quick on the speedy winger before he can get going. If he does, the Yanks better hope they have defenders who are in position to cover if need be.
Ryan Fleming is an editor and writer for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.