A close call
Thursday, 10 June, 2010
Former US youth international and Arsenal starlet looks ahead to Saturday.
By Nicholas Veevers
One man who will have a keen eye on Saturday’s game, with something of a foot in both camps, is former Arsenal and Burnley player Danny Karbassiyoon.
A former USA youth international before his spell in England, Karbassiyoon is now working as Arsenal’s North American Scout after seeing his playing career brought to an end because of a persistent knee injury.
So between travelling throughout the USA, Mexico and Canada on the lookout for potential future Arsenal players, the 25-year-old also keeps a close eye on and retains a huge affection for the English football scene and he told TheFA.com that World Cup fever is picking up in the USA ahead of the Group C game in Rustenburg.
“There is so much going on in the States sports-wise at the moment, so it’s not quite as crazy as other countries in the world might be,” he said. “But it’s still pretty big time and ESPN is showing a lot of highlights of all the teams in the build-up to the World Cup.
“This first England-USA match is very interesting and even friends of mine who aren’t really soccer people are calling and asking where they can watch it.
“When the draw came out, people just couldn’t believe that we got England in the first match. Even though the rivalry isn’t like a USA-Mexico or an England-Germany, there’s still a lot of history between the two countries.”
As for the game itself, Danny can see it being something of a war of attrition with Bob Bradley’s team likely to put up a stern resistance against the Three Lions.
With a number of the USA’s players having played or still playing in England, they will be more than aware of the various strengths and weaknesses of each other and Karbassiyoon sees it being an intriguing match.
“A lot of the big players from the USA, the English will have seen, but we are a good team, very hard working and disciplined,” he added.
“Some of the English people I’ve spoken to are saying they will beat us quite easily, but others are saying they think the US could win, so I don’t really know how it’s going to go.
“We definitely have a lot of good players and quality in our team. The core of the side are people like Donovan and Dempsey so hopefully they can step up and do well for us.
“The last World Cup was a bit of a let-down really, but I think we’re coming back now and a lot of the current team were involved then and will want to prove that the US is good and I just think that they’ll be so determined.
“Clearly, we’re the underdogs when you compare it player to player. The English Premier League is the best league in the world and all of the England squad is playing in there.
“But as a team, the USA works extremely hard and we hate losing so you never know...but I’m saying it will be a 2-2 draw.”
The man from Virginia is also refusing to take too much scope from both teams’ results in their World Cup warm-up games, insisting that when the competition starts for real, so will the football.
“I think the only team that have really lived up to all their expectations going into the World Cup is the Dutch,” he said.
“Portugal drew with the Cape Verde Islands, France lost to China and the USA lost 4-2 to Czech Republic, but you can’t really rely too much on results in these games.
“I saw England’s game with Mexico and whilst they won, I heard they got criticised whereas Mexico played quite well I thought.
“I’m sure that when the time comes for kick-off in the World Cup, everybody will be up for it and go as hard as they can so it might be a different story come Friday.”