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Which national team is stronger, right now: USA or England?

May 29, 2014, 2:19 PM EDT

Wayne+Rooney+Michael+Bradley+England+v+USA+F6LHOFXeuBGl Getty Images

Ah, the Motherland.

For so long fans of the U.S. national team have looked over at the English national team with envy. The players, infrastructure, coaching and prestige they possess has been head and shoulders above what the USMNT could offer. That was then.

What about now? How far ahead, if at all, are England?

If you go by the latest FIFA World Rankings, the difference between the two nations is miniscule. England are ranked 11th in the world, the U.S. come in at 14th but both have flip-flopped above and below each other in recent months.

MORE: Squad-for-World Cup squad: Is the U.S. better than Mexico?

On the pitch it’s hard to split the Three Lions and Nats, as at the last World Cup in South Africa they battled it out to a 1-1 draw in their opening games of the tournament.

In terms of their playing squads, this is where we can break it down to be more specific as to who is the stronger team, right here, right now.

Let’s take a look by position and decide who comes out on top.

The USA or England?

  • Goalkeepers

This is a toughy to start with. England’s first-choice ‘keeper is Joe Hart, who just won the Premier League title with Manchester City and is in fine form. However the 27-year-old had a dodgy spell to start the season and is still prone to a monumental error. As for the U.S., they have Tim Howard (the bearded fellow who looks like his head is on upside down) between the sticks. Playing in the PL for over a decade, Howard is a legend at Everton and is about as solid and reliable as they come. He gets the nod over Hart and with Brad Guzan in reserve, he would beat out both Ben Foster and Fraser Forster. The USA takes this one.

  • Defenders

Another tough one as defense could easily be described as both teams’ Achilles heel. When their players are fully-fit England’s backline of Kyle Walker, Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill and Leighton Baines is particularly robust. However with Jagielka struggling with injury and Glen Johnson coming in for Walker, it looks a little shaky with few options as back up. That said, stars like Luke Shaw are waiting in the wings. As for the USMNT, apart from Matt Besler and perhaps DaMarcus Beasley at left back, Jurgen Klinsmann doesn’t know his strongest back four. Many would argue Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron should start alongside Besler with Omar Gonzalez recovering from a knee injury. For their experience alone, England get the nod here.

  • Midfielders

There’s no doubt about it, England have a perfect mix of youth and experience. Veterans Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are augmented by the likes of Jack Wilshere and Raheem Sterling. The Three Lions are wonderfully talented in this area and seem to have found a system that finally suits them. The USMNT may play the diamond with Jermaine Jones sitting in front of the back four which allows Michael Bradley to roam. Is that his best position? If the U.S. are to get the best out of their team, they need to get the best out of Bradley who is the man that makes everything tick. Guys like Graham Zusi and Alejandro Bedoya could find it hard to flourish against the big teams. England win the midfield battle.

  • Forwards

This is pretty straight-forward as the likes of Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge would get into most national teams if they were available. Rooney’s vision and penchant for the spectacular make him a perfect foil for Sturridge who uses his pace and unpredictability to get in-behind defenses and create havoc. Together they are a real handful. The U.S. have Jozy Altidore who has scored one in 31 PL games for Sunderland this season. Add in the likes of MLSer Chris Wondolowski and Aron Johannsson and even Clint Dempsey in a withdrawn forward role, I still can’t see past Rooney and Sturridge. England get the thumbs up again.

  • Coaches

What both managers have done over the past few years deserves great credit as Klinsmann has ushered in a new style of play in the USMNT and has helped the nation compete and kick on against some of the worlds best teams in friendly games. Hodgson has turned England into a well-drilled unit that were penalty kicks away from reaching the semifinals of the Euros in 2012 and they qualified rather comfortably from a tough group for the World Cup. For the huge changes he has made with the USA and his Gold Cup success, I give Klinsmann the nod here as his job was very difficult from the get-go. USA pull one back.

  • Overall…

England wins it 3-2 but it is a close run thing. The USA and England have perhaps never been this closely matched in their history as soccer nations. Both countries would be delighted to get out of their groups this summer in Brazil and have realistic expectations of their chances of progressing. Both are on the right path as they build for the future with young talent, but who will get their first and will they be side-by-side for the foreseeable future?

  1. drewvt6 - May 29, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    This is d-u-b. DUMB

    • drewvt6 - May 29, 2014 at 2:46 PM

      I mean really, Geee whiz, England who has been playing the sport 100 years longer on a competitive level is better than us? No F-ing way!!!

      I thought this form of artilce/blog had died 20 years ago.

      • reformed2012 - May 29, 2014 at 3:09 PM

        just counting the number of world cups won should put this article to sleep

  2. cfutch - May 29, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    England is better in every aspect except maybe Goalkeeper but even that is debatable. What a dumb article

  3. egb234 - May 29, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    Calling this article dumb is dumb. Comparing teams of closely related nations is not dumb. I will say, though, that the article is pandering a little. 3-2 is over simplifying it in a way that favors the US.

    England’s offense, defense, and midfield is head and shoulders above the US. We don’t have a single player as good as Wayne Rooney–or Jack Wilshire for that matter. I think Michael Bradley might be good enough to start for England, but he wouldn’t because of Gerrard and Lampard. Other than that, only Howard is good enough to make the English squad.

    So saying 3-2 might be true, but the it’s not exactly 1-to-1. The US wins in coach and goalkeeper, but England wins on 10 of 11 players on the field.

    • mikeevergreen - May 30, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      A great coach and a great goalkeeper go a long way at a cup. To have neither (England) is usually a first-round exit.

  4. egb234 - May 29, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    Ranking teams can be a lot of fun, but it highlights an important point about the World Cup. The most talented team doesn’t always win in tournament play. The US and England played to a draw last WC, but Switzerland BEAT Spain in the same tournament. You’d never say that Switzerland is starting to catch Spain–it’s just a one game anomaly. The World Cup lends itself to that kind of thing, though, which is what’s great. Despite the fact that England has better quality in a man-to-man lineup doesn’t mean that they will play better in Brazil. And the fact that neither team isn’t as good as Spain and Brazil doesn’t mean that neither can make a run past the quarterfinals.

    Now that I’m done writing two unnecessary comments, I realize that I am mostly talking to no one. A sure sign that World Cup madness is already setting it.

  5. dws110 - May 29, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    US or Mexico, US or England…can we vote on who is next?

  6. lyleoross - May 29, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    I’m sorry, if you combine the U.S. and Mexico, we might rank up to England, 2 to 3, but in any other meaningful way there is no comparison. Talking about Rooney, and Sturridge in the same breath as our top strikers is a joke. It just gets worse from there. There is only one comparison between the two teams that makes sense, and a second that has value. Tim Howard, and JK.

    It’s articles like this that give U.S. citizens a false sense of what we are going to do on the world stage. We are still second tier, and England is first. They may be lower first tier, but they are still first tier.

  7. schmutzdeck - May 29, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    England is better on paper.

    But just for the sake of argument, if the two met in the semi finals of this World Cup ( and I don’t even know if that is even possible ) I’d say the result would be a toss up.

  8. jucam1 - May 29, 2014 at 5:57 PM

    I like this site but if you continue to post crazy arguments like this I am gonna stop reading you. The US is growing and getting better but to compare to a mid table talent like England in Europe is unfair. Yes, the US can get to the WC every cup but that is only because it’s qualifying field is a joke. England is still 10 times better, and hopefully some year soon the US will have the players to match up against a true football nation like Italy, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, or England. I think the US under Klinnsman can potentially make an impact in ’18, but ’22 or ’26 might be the years they break out and actually warrant a discussion of this kind. Until then, stop it with the crazy talk.

    • braxtonrob - May 30, 2014 at 3:43 PM

      @jucam, Are you referring to the same England that got humiliated by Germany four years ago?

      Get over yourself!

  9. nappy25 - May 29, 2014 at 6:28 PM

    What are you going to expect from Soccer News when all the major leagues are in an off season. There is only so much you can talk about when it comes to WC Rosters and Friendlies. I can’t tell you how many sites are doing a “Best of Ranking”, but they are fun to read and they past the time till the WC. Let these people do their job and report anything when it comes to Soccer. Four years ago you’d be lucky to have ESPN have an article on Soccer, and now it seems that every news affiliate has a dedicated US Soccer section.

  10. ez0682 - May 30, 2014 at 12:35 AM

    Americans smh

  11. heynyc61 - May 30, 2014 at 8:43 AM


  12. braxtonrob - May 30, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    I love how everyone thinks Premier League play translates internationally, when the reality is that’s not necessarily so. In fact, most of the time, it doesn’t translate.

    Also, at what point do these countries (US and England) wise up and start focusing on stalwart defenses (like Italy), or elite-possession football (like Spain)?

    Clearly these are the types of play, when emphasized, lead to World Cup titles.

    We’re not going to accidentally turn ourselves into a Brazil or Germany overnight, so why not get smart and put all our energies into the CORRECT strategy of play.

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