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Football news - Forget Rooney, here's 6 alternative reasons why England vs USA is a worthwhile game

Forget Rooney: 6 alternative reasons to care about England vs USA

12/11/2018 at 15:58Updated 12/11/2018 at 16:45

It’s often been said there’s just too much football. The latest teeming platter reached a crescendo on Sunday with the Manchester derby followed by the Copa Libertadores final, AC Milan vs Juventus and Thierry Henry’s latest tale of woe.

But the week began with Huddersfield beating Fulham on Monday. There’s always something on, meaning some fans have to be selective about what to show interest in.

USA’s trip to face England at Wembley on Thursday is one such occasion that comes under the dubious category for potential excitement - not least because Northern Ireland are playing Republic of Ireland at the same time and Wayne Rooney is set to dominate the pictures even when sat on the sidelines.

Thankfully, Eurosport is on hand to provide six alternative reasons why it’s every bit as interesting as a two-legged Superclasico.

1. SLAM DUNK'S IDEAL DEBUT OPPONENTS

Brighton defender Lewis Dunk could make his England debut

Brighton defender Lewis Dunk could make his England debutGetty Images

Lewis Dunk has been at the heart of Brighton's resurgence this season, with the centre-back scoring in his last two appearances despite the Seagulls going down to defeats at Everton and Cardiff.

The 26-year-old's first international call-up last month was as a result of James Tarkowski's withdrawal but he's there on merit this time around having helped Brighton to three consecutive clean sheets either side of the last international break.

Dunk is the first player from the south coast club in line to play for England since Steve Foster in 1982, and fans with an interest in NBA may have had him down as a sentimental choice for first goalscorer even before his hot streak.

2. HOW'S THE STATE OF THE PITCH?

The Wembley pitch was ruined by an NFL game last month

The Wembley pitch was ruined by an NFL game last monthPA Sport

It will be second only to Rooney in the inevitable tube title-tattle between Baker Street and Wembley Park but the pitch is still reeling from that NFL encounter a fortnight ago.

The quality of Tottenham's recent home games against Manchester City and PSV Eindhoven was scuppered by the wretched spectacle of the turf, and the race to get it into an immaculate state to welcome more guests from across the Atlantic will bring a grimace to the faces of many groundstaff.

In Spurs' match with City, the yard-markers from 50 to 10 were confusingly still visible from Philadelphia Eagles' 24-18 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars just 30 hours earlier.

The pitch was only marginally better last week for the Champions League clash against the Dutch champions, but the hallowed turf should be restored to a glistening sheet of green just in time for viewers from across the pond to wonder what all the fuss was about.

3. AMERICANS PLAYING FOOTBALL AT WEMBLEY

United States fans cheer during the Women's gold medal match at London 2012

United States fans cheer during the Women's gold medal match at London 2012Getty Images

USA's men's team have never won a football match on English soil. Association Football, at least. Bob Bradley was in charge the last time the Americans were in town seeking soccer success a decade ago.

There have been 20 NFL matches at the home of football in the intervening years and the Jacksonville Jaguars have reached an agreement to relocate a home game there annually.

Back at London 2012, the USA women's team won Olympic gold at Wembley courtesy of a 2-1 win over Japan, but there's been very little for Americans to shout about on these shores since then.

USA played in Dublin last June – a 2-1 defeat to the Republic of Ireland - but London-based Americans have not been able to grab a glimpse of their countrymen since the days of Jurgen Klinsmann.

Back in November 2014, Colombia came from behind to beat USA 2-1 at Craven Cottage so there should be a strong American presence at Wembley hoping to overcome a four-year itch.

4. WHO WILL SING STAR SPANGLED BANNER?

Kelly Rowland sings at Wembley ahead of the last time USA played at Wembley

Kelly Rowland sings at Wembley ahead of the last time USA played at WembleyGetty Images

It's over 10 years since England last hosted USA in a friendly at Wembley. In May 2008, John Terry and Steven Gerrard goals did little to illuminate a dreadful game.

David Beckham was presented with a golden cap by Sir Bobby Charlton after making his 100th appearance for the Three Lions but it was a preposterous over-the-top rendition of the Star Spangled Banner which threatened to steal the headlines.

It was the turn of Kelly Rowland, of Destiny's Child fame, who sang and destroyed the American national anthem back then. Unsurprisingly, it failed to inspire a victory over an England side that was still coming to terms with failing to qualify for the European Championship finals. Can the 2018 entrant fare any better?

5. UNCLE SARACHAN’S BIG AUDITION

Uncle Sam are currently being managed by Dave Sarachan

Uncle Sam are currently being managed by Dave SarachanGetty Images

USA are still to appoint a new manager on a full-time basis, over a year after Bruce Arena stepped down for failing to guide the national team to the World Cup finals in Russia.

Dave Sarachan has been in temporary charge ever since, but the American's trip to Wembley offers them the perfect opportunity to demonstrate their potential for any prospective successor based in Europe.

David Moyes was linked with the vacancy after leaving his post at West Ham at the end of last season, and the Scot may be a watchful observer on Thursday night.

Sarachan has named a 28-man squad for the forthcoming friendlies against England and Italy, and it is the fourth successive camp that the average age is under 24.

With the group largely comprising of the next generation, there’s no better place for Sarachan to demonstrate why he should be appointed permanently against the team ranked fifth in international football.

6. WEAH BACK AT WEMBLEY

Tim Weah is USA big prospect but can he emulate the success of his famous father?

Tim Weah is USA big prospect but can he emulate the success of his famous father?Getty Images

Remarkably, 19 players have received a first cap in Sarachan's 10 matches at the helm - with a total of 50 players used leading to an air of unpredictability about how this young USA team will line up.

Gareth Southgate is considerably further down the road in his cycle of development, but there are still a few familiar faces that home fans should come across.

Former Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan is in line to earn his 60th cap while Newcastle full-back DeAndre Yedlin is expected to also feature.

Christian Pulisic made himself available for the friendly, and the Borussia Dortmund midfielder will likely team up with 18-year-old Timothy Weah in providing quality in the attacking third.

The Paris Saint-Germain youngster is seeking to emulate the success of his famous father George, who played in Chelsea's 1-0 FA Cup final win at Wembley against Aston Villa over 18 years ago in May 2000.

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