For Yunus Musakh, one of several precocious talents bolstering the reputation of teenagers at this World Cup, the sight of England raging on the first full day of the tournament was a mixed bag.
When Musa, the US midfielder, watched replays of Jude Bellingham, who set Group B favorites on track for a decisive 6-2 victory over Iran, he immediately recognized the style.
Not so long ago, Musa and Bellingham, both 19 years old, shared duties and friendships in the same England youth team.
Musa also saw many exuberant Bukayo Saka destroying defenses, as the Saka did in Iran. Mousa attended the same Arsenal academy where Saka, who scored two goals for England on Monday, is an outstanding graduate of a gifted cohort.
Mousa could have followed Saka, who was two years older, into the first team of the current leaders of the Premier League, if at 16 he had not made the bold decision to move to Valencia, where he has now established himself well.
Similarly, he could have focused on his England career and moved from playing for the under-15s to under-18s for the country, where he spent most of his early years, if US manager Gregg Berhalter had not convinced him to move to the national team. country of his birth.
Born in New York, raised in Italy and England, the son of Ghanaian parents, Musa has had plenty of options for his international career, which is not uncommon for the American team to face England from Bellingham and Saka on Friday.
It’s an integral part of the familiar, clash of intertwined football cultures. Eight of the US internationals work for English clubs, most of them in the Premier League and, in the case of Christian Pulisic, the Champions League-winning club Chelsea.
But if the competitive environment at the English club has sharpened the likes of Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Leeds United’s Brenden Aaronsohn, and Fulham centre-back Tim Ream, at 35, has maintained his vigilance and poise, the debt goes both ways. Twelve England internationals are earning high salaries at Premier League clubs where Americans hold a majority stake.
Musa admits that “England has done a lot for me and I have a lot of respect for England”. If the 19-year-old midfielder still speaks with a London accent more than an American East Coast one, he is not alone. Fulham left-back Anthony Robinson and Celtic centre-back Cameron Carter-Vickers are English-born with American parents.
Winger Gio Reina, a close friend of Bellingham’s during their two and a half years at Borussia Dortmund, was born in England because his father, Claudio, was a Premier League player at the time.
Timothy Weah, whose goal deservedly put the US ahead in their 1-1 draw with Wales to open their World Cup campaign, might have been the same if his father, Liberian former Ballon d’Or winner George Weah, had moved family to London during Weah Sr.’s brief stint at Chelsea in 1999-2000, when his second son was born in New York.
Timothy’s nimble finish and Pulisic’s pass that secured a goal against Wales showed the US’s speed and confidence at its best and reminded that, apart from all the threads that tie England and today’s opponent, what they have in common is trust in the youth.
At 24, Pulisic was the oldest player on the top six of the US team at the first World Cup. Behind the mundane Harry Kane, 29, and Raheem Sterling, 27, England manager Gareth Southgate lined up Bellingham, Saku and two 23-year-olds, Declan Rice and Mason Mount on Monday.
The bad news for one notable US veteran, Rome, is that Kane, who suffered enough ankle discomfort to pull out with 15 minutes left in the Iran game, was in good enough shape to start the game against the Americans. Kane really wants to add to his 51 goals for the national team after missing the match with Iran.
Southgate urged his players to “reboot, get back to the mental state we were in at the beginning”. [of the match against Iran]worried about slight signs of declining focus after the result was set at 4-0. Iran scored twice in the last half hour.
“The next game will not be like Monday,” Southgate told the BBC. “There are quite a few players in the States that we know from the Premier League. They will be athletic, press very well, organized and well trained.”
Updated: November 25, 2022 4:02 AM