- First time England, USA meet since 2010 World Cup
- Rooney to wear no.10 jersey for England, captain side
- Christian Pulisic to return for USMNT
The U.S. national team continue their gruelling set of friendly matches in 2018 by facing No.5 ranked England at Wembley on Thursday.
[ MORE: Pulisic ready to lead USMNT ]
To thicken the plot around this game, Wayne Rooney is coming out of retirement for one final game for England as the Three Lions’ all-time leading goalscorer will make his 120th and final appearance. Rooney, 33, will come on as a second half sub and wear the captains armband, his famous number 10 jersey and also receive a guard of honor.
[ MORE: USMNT’s star trio align at Wembley ]
It is highly likely the USMNT”s interim head coach Dave Sarachan will take charge of his final two matches for the U.S. against England and then Italy next Tuesday, with Gregg Berhalter widely expected to take charge in the coming weeks.
On the pitch, Christian Pulisic will play for the U.S. national team for the first time since May and just the second time in the past 13 months, as he links up with Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie for the first time in the senior team.
England will start with Fabian Delph, who will captain the team, while the likes of Jadon Sancho and Callum Wilson are also expected to start with the Three Lions facing a crucial UEFA Nations League clash against Croatia on Sunday. Gareth Southgate will use plenty of his second-string players against the USMNT.
Antonee Robinson is the latest USMNT player to miss the friendlies against England and Italy through injury. The Everton defender (on loan at Wigan) rolled his ankle in training and the English born left back will not feature in either game. Josh Sargent trained on his own on Wednesday at Wembley and was described as “day-to-day” by Sarachan.
What they’re saying
Dave Sarachan on his message for the young USMNT players: “The message will be the same: enjoy the moment, play without fear, compete. Have 90 minutes of football that is something you will remember. They are not afraid and they are excited.”
Gareth Southgate on England’s competition for places: “I think we have put young players in whatever situation it has been. We played young players in the World Cup and in Seville last month so it doesn’t really matter what the situation is. If the players are good enough we will play them. That competition for places is really intense and we need that because the challenge since the World Cup has been embraced by the players and we have had some good results against some top teams.”
The U.S. national team will come up against a weakened England side on Thursday and that will enhance their chances of causing a huge upset. That said, England are in the top five of the world rankings for a reason and even their so-called “B team” this will be a huge test for a young USMNT squad. A 3-1 win to England, with Rooney wrapping up the victory with a goal off the bench, seems about right.