The U.S. rested today. No practice and no media availability. According to the Tweets I follow from U.S. Soccer, a few guys went golfing, a few relaxed. The team returns to practice on Tuesday. The England match is on Saturday, so tomorrow will begin a standard week of preparation.
As for England, they held their final warm-up match this evening at Moruleng Stadium, which is about 2 hours, 30 minutes north west of Johannesburg, near to Rustenburg, which is where the U.S. vs. England match will be held. Unlike most nations here in South Africa, the English decided against scrimmaging against another nation (like the U.S. did against Australia), choosing instead to play the Platinum Stars FC, a local side that plays in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League. Platinum isn’t even currently in season, with the players being called back from vacation.
From what I’ve gathered, the English’s selection of a final tune-up (as well as their selected home base in Rustenburg), is about keeping everything as tight as possible. Playing a local side – instead of another nation – keeps the information just a little bit tighter.
I went anyway. The drive was on back roads, winding, through some interesting areas, and the stadium was plopped down in the middle of it all. Brand-new stadium that can seat 20,000 people. There weren’t that many there, perhaps about 7,000, although difficult to tell; almost all of the fans were South Africans.
If you’re looking for scouting material on England, you won’t find it. Fabio Capello seemed to start a competitive 11, but kept Wayne Rooney on the bench until the start of the second half. England didn’t look great, they looked kind of sluggish, not really that precise, and wasted about a dozen chances. The game was 1-0 at halftime and Platinum had missed a penalty kick.
England won, 3-0, and Rooney scored a goal in the second half. Although the U.S. is no closer to decoding who exactly the English will line up, I did manage to take some videos. Three videos, actually. One is of English defender John Terry, talking after the game. One is of the last few minutes of the game, with Rooney handling the ball. And the third is of Rooney signing autographs after the match.
Back tomorrow with more from U.S. camp ...