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Pulisic back as US loses 3-0 at England; no goal for Rooney

November 16, 2018
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England's Fabian Delph, right, and England's Dele Ali, left, and Unites States Christian Pulisic, center, vie for the ball during the international friendly soccer match between England and the United States at Wembley stadium, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

LONDON (AP) — Christian Pulisic nearly put the United States ahead against England midway through the first half, only for goalkeeper Jordan Pickford come off his line and make a kick save. A short while later, Pulisic lost the ball and Jesse Lingard gave England the lead. Just 104 seconds later, Trent Alexander-Arnold doubled the advantage.

“We need to get a lot better if we want to beat a good side like that,” Pulisic said after Thursday night’s 3-0 defeat. “We’re not happy with the result.”

Callum Wilson beat Brad Guzan in the 77th minute, and Wayne Rooney entered in the 58th minute in his English national team farewell. The United States is 0-3 in three matches at old and new Wembley, outscored 7-0.

“We were a little timid and we allowed a little bit too much space,” U.S. interim coach Dave Sarachan said.

Pulisic, the top player on the rebuilding Americans, played just his second game for the U.S. since the loss at Trinidad and Tobago in October 2017 ended a streak of seven straight World Cup appearances. This marked the first joint appearance by Pulisic and midfielders Weston McKennie, Tim Weah and Tyler Adams, who entered in the 62nd minute.

Sarachan deployed Pulisic on a wing, where Borussia Dortmund used the 20-year-old midfielder.

“That’s always going to be a debate,” Sarachan said. “You have arguably our best player and so most would think, well, we should use him in the middle of the field, and I’m not saying maybe that won’t happen, but I also know that when you watch him play for his club in the position he plays, he’s very dangerous in confined space, so our thinking tonight was let’s put him in a comfortable spot, having the freedom to cut inside and make the game, and I think there were moments when he did.”

Sarachan’s successor will face the same question.

“I think as we move along, as this program moves along, as players around him get settled and allow him maybe more freedom as a central guy, that’s probably a place that would make sense,” Sarachan said.

U.S. center backs John Brooks and Matt Miazga had trouble closing down England, a World Cup semifinalist, and the Americans dropped to three wins, four losses and four ties under Sarachan going into his likely finale, against Italy on Tuesday at Genk, Belgium.

Rooney, who joined Major League Soccer’s D.C. United in July, made his 120th international appearance, the most among England outfield players. The best chance for the 33-year-old striker was in stoppage time, when his low shot was saved by Guzan to the frustration of a crowd of 68,155. Rooney finished with an England record 53 goals.

“Another yard it would have been in ... and it would have great,” Rooney said. “But in some ways it’s great because if I did score it would have opened another whole lot of debate whether that goal should count or not. In some ways it’s probably better it didn’t go in.”

England went ahead in the 25th minute when Dele Alli took the ball into the corner and passed to Lingard the top of the penalty area. Lingard took a touch as Miazga failed to close him down, then lofted the ball to the far corner over Guzan’s outstretched arm.

Wilson dribbled into the penalty area in the 27th at Brooks and Miazga. The ball bounded out to Jadon Sancho, who passed to an unrushing Alexander-Arnold. Brooks failed to challenge him and Alexander-Arnold beat Guzan to the far post from with an angled shot from 10 yards.

Wilson scored off a pass from Fabian Delph, beating Brooks to a cross and putting in a volley from 7 yards. Wilson and Alexander-Arnold scored their first international goals.

“Probably gave them too much respect in the first half,” Guzan said. “Ultimately we were outclassed.”

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