Pride in the program: What we learned from USMNT vs England

It’s hard to feel anything but pride in the program following the USMNT’s 0-0 draw with England at the World Cup on Friday.

That’s saying something considering the state of the program just 4.5 years ago, when Bruce Arena’s men flamed out before the tournament and took very little responsibility for it.

That was against Trinidad and Tobago’s B-team in Couva.

This was against England, favored to contend for the tournament crown, in Qatar.

[ MORE: USMNT vs England as it happened/recap ]

This World Cup so far has shown a manager who is — finally — picking his best team in the most important spot. And the team to its credit has been healthier and available.

There have been no excuses for the USMNT and they haven’t looked for them. Yes, the club still has to develop a center forward worthy of this stage but it may be doing so right now with Haji Wright (who was excellent in hold-up play).

Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Tim Ream, and Co. used Friday’s game against England to tell the world that they are the same brand of blood and guts as Giovanni Reyna’s dad; They’re Michael Bradley, Carlos Bocanegra, and Tim Howard.

Now can they find their inner Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey. Cause they need a win against Iran.

All-in-all, the Yanks have control of their World Cup fate heading into the final day versus Iran, and that seemed unlikely just 24 hours ago.

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What we learned from USMNT vs England

A good plan executed: For the second-straight game, Gregg Berhalter didn’t get cute with his lineup and for the second-straight game the USMNT was the better team over the first 45 minutes.

Of course this time the opponent wasn’t Wales, who after losing to Iran looks like a team that punched above its weight just to get to Qatar.

It was England, and the Yanks weathered the early Three Lions surge that led the favorites well in front of Iran.

There was a little bit of everything from Gregg Berhalter’s plan. At times the focus was on Sergino Dest — who had his best game as a USMNT player — and Antonee Robinson playing like Man City uses Joao Cancelo.

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The AC Milan right back surged up the field under control and with intent, cutting up the English defense and leaving Luke Shaw questioning what he was safe to do going forward.

Dest’s strength has always been in possession or marauding forward on the counter, but he was in fine form — tail up, as they say overseas — and sharp as a tack with the ball at his feet.

And Antonee Robinson. We saved him for second because his performance was less surprising, but “Jedi” had a couple of exceptional interventions in the opening stages and carried that vigor over 90 minutes.

Christian Pulisic postmatch response underlines need for finishers: Over two games, there’s only one instance of a center forward — Josh Sargent or Haji Wright — coming close to scoring and it was Wright’s early flashed header.

While Sargent played a hold-up role in the Yanks goal versus Wales and Wright put in a shift versus England, the side is just missing its edge even thought its only goal came when Christian Pulisic slotted Timothy Weah centrally for a 1-0 lead over Wales.

What’s missing, Pulisic was asked after the game on FOX?

“Clearly not much,” Pulisic said. “We just have to be slightly more clinical and continue to more and more aggressive.”

Pulisic said the focus is easy for the final match.

“It’s all about winning the game,” Pulisic said. “We have to come out very aggressive, and come out and win the game and make it to the next round and I’m very confident we can do it.”

A remarkable rise for the new No. 1: The knock on Matt Turner when he first put on the USMNT shirt is that he had never played any higher than MLS and his experience could keep him from taking the No. 1 shirt.

Well, no more.

The Arsenal backup keeper looked a bit rusty in the USA’s opening draw with Wales, but he was 100 percent in control of his box and arguably looked better than Jordan Pickford.

He made a huge save on Mason Mount and exhibited confidence in the biggest game of his life.

USMNT vs England

Pride in the program: What we learned from USMNT vs England originally appeared on NBCSports.com