San Diego Loyal star Collin Martin believes the United States‘ impressive midfield holds the key to pulling off an upset against England.
Gregg Berhalter’s men face the Three Lions in their second World Cup group game on Friday night having been held to a 1-1 draw by Wales in their opening encounter.
Despite dominating for large periods on Monday, they were forced to settle for a point as Gareth Bale’s late penalty cancelled out Timothy Weah’s impressive opener.
Dragons boss Rob Page changed his tactics at half-time after being overrun in the centre of the park by a strong US midfield — and Martin believes that area will be crucial against Gareth Southgate’s side.
Speaking to LiveScore, the 28-year-old midfielder said: “I think the midfield is really strong. Weston McKennie from Juventus and Tyler Adams at Leeds are in there.
“But there’s also Yunus Musa. He’s a No8 and is really good — I rate him really highly. Our midfield will be strong.”
With their regular starting XI now made up largely of players plying their trade around Europe, there is quiet optimism in the American camp.
And Martin is quick to highlight other areas in which his fellow countrymen have talent to spare. He added: “We obviously have Christian Pulisic.
“The big question is who plays up front, whether that’s going to be a more traditional No9 or a false nine who links up play, that’s the biggest question mark.
“We’ve seen players like Brendan Aaronsen make a move [to Leeds] recently. I thought it would take him longer to settle but he’s done really well.”
Good to be back
This is the USA’s first World Cup campaign for eight years, having failed to qualify for the showpiece in Russia in 2018.
Since finishing third all the way back in 1930, they have made it to the knockout stages only four times in their history.
Monday’s draw leaves the Americans in the hunt for qualification this time around, particularly with a final Group B game to come against Iran — who were hammered 6-2 by England in their first outing.
And while former Under-20 international Martin is just happy his country are back competing on world football’s biggest stage, he is cautiously optimistic about their hopes of a good run.
He said: “First of all, it feels good to be back. It was no fun not watching the team at the last World Cup.
“I think the goal is to get out of the group and then see what happens. It won’t be easy but once you get out of the group stage you get to really focus in on an opponent.
“If they get out of the group and play a giant [ it will be difficult], but play a lesser team and maybe there’s a surprise and you can get lucky and continue to advance.”
Friday’s clash at the Al Bayt Stadium will be the first World Cup meeting between America and England since a 1-1 draw in South Africa in 2010.
And with the two countries enjoying a special relationship off the field, Martin shed light on how big an occasion facing the Three Lions is considered across the pond.
He added: “We were watching the [World Cup] draw as a team. We got really excited.
“The game is on the day after Thanksgiving in the US, so there should be a massive viewing over here.
“People will be off work and it will be a really exciting game.”
San Diego Loyal soccer player Collin Martin, who came out as gay in 2018, has partnered with BonusFinder and LGBT HERO to understand representation and attitudes towards the LGBTQIA+ community in US professional team sport.