LONDON – U.S. manager Dave Sarachan admitted his side were second best on a night when England ran out 3-0 winners at Wembley.
The Americans fell behind midway through the first half thanks to a two-goal flurry from the hosts, with Jesse Lingard and Trent Alexander-Arnold doing the damage. Christian Pulisic was denied on a breakaway by Jordan Pickford with the score still level, but the scoreline going into the break was a fair reflection of England’s dominance in the first half.
Sarachan initially classified his team’s first half display as “timid” though he later backed away from that assessment.
“We allowed too much space,” he said. “Their spacing, their movement, was very challenging for our group. As much as we watched and scouted England, it’s still on the players to sort through that. We just didn’t get around on the ball enough, didn’t get in on enough plays, makes for a tough half.”
The U.S fared better in the second half, and carved out a few half-chances, but it was England that got a third through Callum Wilson, who was making his international debut.
“We talked about some things at half-time,” he said. “I think there were some stretches where we had some confidence to play a little bit, get better numbers centrally, the ball could go from one to the next and we are going to take some positives, that’s the point of these games.”
It wasn’t the first time in 2018 that the U.S. struggled to create spells of possession, especially in the first half when England put the visitors under immense pressure. It’s a weakness that Sarachan is aware of.
“Some of it is the technical ability of players,” he said. “I also think a big part of possession and doing better with the ball is having options and [having] spacing and movement … you saw it at times tonight when we were able to play a little bit, there were options for players on the ball.
“With a team like England, where we got stretched … there aren’t a lot of options so now you get a little impatient to force things, whereas when you have better numbers around the ball, the ball can move a little bit more … so I think it’s a combination of some guys need to be better technically, but I also think its a matter of just making sure our combination and movements are such so there are better options.”
It was a night when Sarachan opted to deploy Pulisic out on the right wing, especially since he plays there for his club. And while the Dortmund attacker broke free a few times, it did nothing to quell the debate on whether he should be stationed centrally.
“[Pulisic] is arguably our best player, and so most would think he should be in the middle of field,” Sarachan said. “I’m not saying that won’t happen. But also know when you watch him play for his club in his position, he is very dangerous and can find space, our thinking tonight was put him in a comfortable spot, have the freedom to come inside and make the game.”
Later Sarachan said that his decision to not start Tyler Adams had to do with the mileage he logged in last weekend’s playoff victory for the New York Red Bulls over the Columbus Crew. Sarachan said Adams was “very sore” when he arrived and the decision was made to rest him.