Weston McKennie can’t believe he missed the shot. (Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
After his U.S. men’s national team played England to a scoreless draw at the World Cup on Friday, midfielder Weston McKennie knew who was the better team.
“We held the ball really well,” he told FOX Sports. “We had the majority of the chances. We were more dangerous.”
The only thing the U.S. didn’t do was put the ball into the back of the net. Finishing is difficult. At the World Cup, the degree of difficulty gets even more severe.
“We couldn’t get in the back of the net,” McKennie added. “Our goal is to try and play our best and that’s I think that’s what we did.”
All quotes in this story came off postgame interviews with FOX Sports.
In two games, Tim Weah has the USA’s lone goal, in the 1-1 deadlock with Wales in the Group B opener on Monday.
“There was definitely a lot of positives,” forward Christian Pulisic said. “We had stretches even in the first half where we looked dominant and created some chances. Unfortunately, couldn’t finish some of them off. But we managed the game quite well and to come away with a draw against them as obviously was a pretty good result, but we felt that we could have even won the game.”
Pulisic came close to cashing in, hitting the crossbar in the first half.
Asked what was missed from the USA, Pulisic replied, “Clearly not much. We just have to be slightly more clinical and just continue to be aggressive and creating more and more chances. That’s how you score goals.”
“The one thing that was missing just putting the ball on the back of the net,” he said. “The final passes were there, but unlucky.”
On the positive side, the Americans took seven corner kicks. On the other, they couldn’t put any away.
“I’d like to see goals on set pieces,” head coach Gregg Berhalter said.
Or from anywhere on the field.
“Both teams worked hard,” Berhalter said. “Both teams gave each other difficulties at times, and all in all pleased with the effort. Anytime you can get a shutout in the World Cup, it’s a good thing.”
The draw gave the USMNT (0-0-2) two points. A win over Iran on Tuesday would propel the Americans into the knockout round.
“It’s all about winning the game, so we got to come out very aggressive and and win the game to move on to the next round,” Pulisic said. “I’m very confident that we can do it.”
Added McKennie: “The most important thing is that it’s in our hands, how we want to continue in this group.”
“We’re proud but our work’s not done,” Berhalter said. “We have to win on Tuesday. We know five points gets us in.”
One or no points keeps the USA out and gives the team an early trip home.