Yunus Musah (left) on England:  “It’s a game that I really want to win, just like any other game in a World Cup.” (Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

Let’s face it.

The U.S. needs at least a point out of its’s Friday confrontation against England if it wants to have a chance to survive to the knockout round of the World Cup.

It certainly won’t be easy, especially after the opening Group B results will suggest.

Despite outplaying Wales in the first half, the Americans couldn’t hold off their foes and settled for a 1-1 draw.

England on the other hand, trounced Iran, 6-2.

What a challenge, indeed.

“It’s a game that I really want to win, just like any other game in a World Cup,” said USA midfielder Yunus Musah, who came up through the Arsenal Academy and who was courted by the England national team before he decided to wear the Red, White and Blue. “I’m not too sure how I’m going to feel when the game comes around, but I do know that I’ll be doing everything I can to try and try and help the team win.”

Goalkeeper Matt Turner, who joined Arsenal in the English Premier League after a successful stint with the New England Revolution, knows the USA has its work cut out for itself. The Gunners have three players on the England squad – goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, defender Ben White and forward Bukayo Saka, who had a brace against Iran.

“Anytime you’re playing against familiar faces or in a familiar country, you look forward to the chances to compete against your peers,” he said at a Wednesday press conference in Qatar. “Obviously friends off the field and when you get onto the pitch, it’s full focus for 90 minutes. Some very talented players on a team favored to win the tournament. So it’s going to be a big challenge. It’s going to take tremendous focus, but we’re looking forward to it.”

Against an English side that has many weapons that the USMNT is quite aware of.

The No. 1 concern is striker Harry Kane, who had an ankle injury scare in the opener, but has been declared fit to play against the Americans. Kane, who did not score vs. Iran, has tallied 51 times in 76 international appearances besides regularly filling the net for Tottenham in the English Premier League.

“I think it’d be difficult,” said defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, who started his senior year with Tottenham and who is quite familiar with Kane. “He’s top player, you know, they got a squad full of top players. So I think we all know that we’re going have to put one of our best performances to beat them.”

And there’s much than Kane to worry about – in the form of 21-year-old Saka, Turner’s teammate at Arsenal.

“I think it’s pretty clear he’s one of the young stars of world football,” Turner said. “He’s a top, top player and I think you don’t need me to tell anybody on our team how much of a threat that he poses in the game. He’s scoring goals in a variety of ways. He’s really developed, matured. He’s gotten stronger from what I understand. I’ve only worked with him for a few months, but I’m looking forward to playing against familiar faces. … He’s a really, really good player that can change any game that he takes part in.”

Musah has been teammates with Saka and English midfielder Jude Bellingham, with whom he played in the Arsenal system and the English national youth teams, respectively. Bellingham, who competes for Borussia Dortmund (Germany) also scored in the opener.

“I haven’t spoken to them recently, but we’re expecting big things from both Jude and Bukayo,” Musah said. “They’re both very key players for them. You can see what they do and week in and week out.  can we call and they’re producing at the World Cup as well. So they’re in a really good place.”

Carter-Vickers has found himself in a unique place. His father, former NBA player Howard Carter is Americans. His mother, Geraldine, is English. Not surprisingly, the rooting interest in his family is split.

“Half my family want us to win, and half want England to win,” he said.

The USMNT needs to play at a high level against England than the Welsh match, especially on attack.

“One of the main things for us is we missed some opportunities in transition against Wales in the second half,” Turner said. “I think we had chances. We just weren’t particularly clean in the final third, maybe a pass was a little off or the timing was wrong. It took away are the small windows that you have in a World Cup where the margins are so thin to score a goal. We know that we’re going to have to be better in transition against England if we want to score goals.”

Or suffer the consequences of needing a victory, perhaps a big win, against Iran in the final group match against Iran on Tuesday, Nov. 29.