So that’s that, Wayne Rooney’s England career is over.
120 caps and 53 goals. Not bad, right? The former England captain brought an end to his international career with a second half cameo in the Three Lions’ win over the USA on Thursday night.
Rooney was given a guard of honour as the players emerged onto the pitch, before goals from Jesse Lingard, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Callum Wilson saw Gareth Southgate’s side ease to victory at Wembley.
Dave Sarachan’s USA side had their chances but it was England’s young guns that stole the show. Liverpool right-back Alexander-Arnold was given the Man of the Match award after netting his first England goal, whilst 18-year-old Jadon Sancho played the full 90 minutes and impressed throughout.
A nice send off for Rooney and a good victory for England ahead of an important Nations League tie with Croatia this Sunday.
Here are five things we learned from England’s 2-0 victory over the USA in the Wayne Rooney Foundation International.
Sancho has the skills to pay the bills
It was a big night for Jadon Sancho, with the 18-year-old making his full England debut, and he certainly didn’t disappoint.
From the off, the Borussia Dortmund winger was positive on the ball, driving at the USA defence at every opportunity.
He may only be 18, but on Thursday’s evidence, Sancho has just about every trick in the book. He linked up brilliantly with the likes of Dele Alli in attack with some flamboyant flicks and tricks.
The former Manchester City youngster is clearly a very, very gifted footballer. He was calm and collected throughout and it’s perhaps his decision making that will have impressed Gareth Southgate the most. Sancho’s awareness of what’s going on around him is fantastic for his age and we’re absolutely certain that there’ll be plenty more starts on the way for a player that is possibly England’s next big attacking prospect.
USA’s next appointment is a very important one
Bruce Arena resigned as USA manager over a year ago, with former Chicago Fire boss Dave Sarachan in charge since.
Arena resigned after his side failed to qualify for last summers World Cup, with England’s group opponents Panama among the sides to qualify ahead of them.
The USA have held off on appointing a new coach, opting to wait until a general manager had been put in place. That happened in August, with former player Earnie Stewart hired with a view to helping out with the decision process.
Sarachan isn’t expected to get the job on a full-time basis and the USA’s performance against England on Thursday suggested that they are in need of a manager that has a clear philosophy and style of play.
At times, Sarachan’s side were a threat going forward. They have some exciting young players, with Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic and PSG’s Timothy Weah both showing glimpses of their potential at times. The former missed a golden opportunity to put his side 1-0 up in the early stages, with Jordan Pickford denying him from close range.
But it was a different story at the back. Despite being set-up in two banks of four to try and limit England’s offensive opportunities, the Three Lions’ forward players constantly found space in the attacking areas and had a lot of joy when progressing down the flanks.
England continue to impress in a 4-3-3
Gareth Southgate made his intentions clear during the last international break, a 4-3-3 system would be the way forward for his side and the 3-5-2 that brought them such joy during the World Cup would be put to one side for now.
That decision looks like it’s paying off. The main reason the England boss made that change is so that his side can compete against some of the best teams in world football. It’s also a system that suits a lot of the young players coming through the ranks.
Just as they did against Spain in October, England dominated this match in midfield and looked dangerous whenever they came forward.
It’s a system that allows the midfielders and forward players to get closer to each other and a some of England’s combination play was very impressive at times.
The likes of Jadon Sancho, Dele Alli and Ben Chilwell looked at home in this formation, but expect Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Kyle Walker and co. to be back for the Nations League tie against Croatia this Sunday.
Ben Chilwell may now be England’s first choice left-back
Another young player that looks like he’s going to play a big part in England’s future under Gareth Southgate.
Chilwell made his first start for the Three Lions during the last international break against Croatia and his performance in that, and in the 4-3 victory over Spain, was the sort that you’d associate with a player that’s been playing for England for a good five years or so.
The 21-year-old has had an excellent season for Leicester City and looks to be competing with Manchester United’s Luke Shaw for the first choice left-back role with England.
A slight injury kept Shaw out against the USA, meaning that Chilwell was given another opportunity from the start. Yet again he impressed throughout and his early-ish substitution may suggest that he’s in line for a start in that crunch clash with Croatia on Sunday.
He caused the USA all sorts of problems when coming forward in the first half and seems to be oozing confidence at present. A very impressive young full-back.
Wayne Rooney will always be an England legend
Whatever was said in the weeks building up, this was a really nice send off for Rooney.
We’re not entirely sure how happy he’d have been about Gareth Southgate playing him out wide when he came on, but he didn’t look at all out of place in this match!
The former England captain was given a guard of honour as the players emerged for kick-off and eventually came on just before the 60 minute mark.
There’s been a lot made of whether this match was the right way to pay tribute to Rooney’s England career, but what is for sure is that he is a player that deserves to be honoured for his international achievements.
Whatever you think of Rooney, he is England’s all time record goalscorer and that’s a very, very big deal. He’s also their second most capped player, which isn’t too bad either.
He gave everything for the Three Lions and he will, without doubt, go down as one of their best ever players.