It was the most reckless move from a Zimmerman since Bob Dylan went electric. The manner in which the troubadour’s namesake, Walker, went through the back of Gareth Bale to hand Wales a late penalty and, ultimately, a point on Monday evening was criminally instinctive. Maybe he should have thought twice, because it certainly wasn’t alright.
That moment of lunacy aside, the USA actually didn’t look too shabby against the Dragons. Sure, they crumpled a tad when Rob Page swung a Kieffer Moore-shaped battering ram at them in the second-half, and holistically-speaking, they didn’t create an awful lot besides Timo Weah’s well-taken opener, but there were signs of promise from the Americans.
Christian Pulisic, a man who, between his club duties with Chelsea and his international allegiances, has to endure some of most banal chants in world football, looked full of vim and vigour, while Sergino Dest, seemingly unwanted by both Barcelona and AC Milan, impressed at right-back.
Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, and Yunus Musah are the most exciting American trio since Destiny’s Child, and Matt Turner, a man with the sickeningly-symmetrical features of a Hallmark Christmas movie protagonist, was smart between the sticks when called upon.
The question then, from an English perspective at least, is whether or not the Yanks have enough about them to translate that simmering aptitude into a meaningful threat. The two nations, often cast as weird, braggadocious cousins on the world stage, meet at Al Bayt Stadium on Friday night. A win for England could be enough to send them through to the last 16 of the World Cup with a group stage match to spare. A win for the USA would hoist them above the Three Lions, and perhaps more importantly, inflict a near-fatal wound to English pride. It’d be like us beating the USA in an apple pie bake-off, or a monster truck drag race.
In truth, however, Gareth Southgate is unlikely to have seen too much that will cause him to lose significant amounts of sleep between now and Friday. I know, I know, famous last words and all that, but I calls it how I sees it. The simple fact of the matter is that as soon as Wales altered their approach to force Zimmerman and his pardner Tim Ream into dealing with a proper centre-forward, they folded like bed sheets in a dry cleaners. Neither looked comfortable tracking Moore’s movement, and neither appeared capable of stifling his hold-up play.
In Harry Kane, they will come up against one of the most troublesome and proactive strikers in world football, who just so happens to be aided and abetted by a rotating cast of the Premier League’s very best scurrying rabble-rousers. And Jude Bellingham.
Thanksgiving is on Thursday. Assuming England’s defence (looking at you, Slabhead) don’t dole out their own Black Friday giveaway, you would imagine that the Three Lions should have enough to make turkeys out of the USA.