The stadium was filled with raucous jeers. England fans were furious. The United States had once again disappointed them at a World Cup.
The teams have met three times on soccer’s biggest stage, and England is still looking for its first win against the Americans after a 0-0 draw on Friday.
Coach Gareth Southgate had reminded his players of the record, with the United States famously winning 1-0 in 1950 and drawing 1-1 in 2010. They didn’t seem to take his warning seriously, and they didn’t respond to Gregg Berhalter’s young and energetic team.
England defeated Iran 6-2 in its first game in Qatar, confirming its status as a tournament favorite. However, it may consider itself fortunate not to have lost another game to the United States after Christian Pulisic hit the crossbar with a first-half strike and Weston McKinnie lifted a shot over from eight yards out.
The England fans had gathered at the Al Bayt Stadium in anticipation of a victory and qualification to the knockout stages with one game remaining.
“I want our home fans to have a smile on their faces, and we haven’t quite achieved that,” Southgate said.
“But people are going to react how they react and I can’t let that affect how I feel about the team or how the team feels.
“Our goal is to qualify, and we have three games to do so.”
It’s one thing to be frustrated with England. But Berhalter’s job is to get to the knockout rounds.
The draw sets up a match between the United States and Iran on Tuesday for a place in the round of 16. Iran defeated Wales 2-0 earlier in the day and now leads Group B with three points, one more than the Americans.
“It sets up our first World Cup knockout game,” Berhalter said. “We must win or we will be eliminated from the World Cup.” That will be our primary focus as we prepare the team for the next game.
“But, most importantly, understanding the intensity with which Iran will attack.” They played a fantastic game today. If we want a chance to advance, we’ll have to play with a lot of spirit.”
Meanwhile, Southgate will try to motivate his players. He described them as dejected after their thrilling victory over Iran.
Despite the boos, England leads the group with four points.
“It wasn’t the best performance, for sure,” admitted Harry Kane, who came within a whisker of scoring with a stoppage-time header. “We had some good spells with the ball, but we didn’t quite have the finished product.”
“We had two or three chances and didn’t capitalize.”
Kane, the 2018 World Cup Golden Boot winner, is still looking for his first goal of the tournament.
Yunus Musah, who chose to represent the United States over England, demonstrated what Southgate is missing with a dominant midfield performance.