All Eyes on US-England Clash as World Cup Kicks Off

While the World Cup will officially kick off today in South Africa, many football, or if you’re American, soccer, fans are looking two days ahead, when the U.S. clash with mighty England on Sunday in the Group C opening match.

The media blitz for the U.S.-England game actually started several weeks ago, with sports channels ESPN and Sports Illustrated giving prime coverage of what appears to be the most talked-about match-up in this year’s World Cup.

U.S. football has been getting a lot of buzz since the Americans reached the finals of the Confederations Cup last year by knocking off European champions Spain in the semifinals, 2-0. The Americans’ big upset also ended the Spaniards’ 15-match winning streak and 35 straight games of salvaging at least a draw. The U.S. also gave world football power Brazil a scare before bowing, 2-3, in the final.

Another thing going for the U.S. going into Sunday’s match is the fact that England will be without several players, including captain Rio Ferdinand, due to injury and other reasons. Several U.S. players have also had top-flight exposure this season as nine members of the team played with English Clubs prior to their World Cup stint. And although the U.S. have lost seven of nine matches with England, the Americans won the only match that really mattered against their cross-Atlantic competitors–their 1950 World Cup meeting, which Joe Gaetjens won for the U.S. with his lone goal.

England, though, is still formidable despite the injuries and the personal problems of some players going into the World Cup. Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, and Frank Lampard are still there. So is John Terry, who appears to have recovered from the scandal that rocked his marriage, although he lost his position as captain because of the incident. England also seems to perform well on big stages like the World Cup, unlike the U.S., whose best finish in the event was a quarterfinal appearance in 2002.

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