England v USA: Focus on first half at Wembley
Wayne Rooney returns to the England side for one night only as the Three Lions host the USA and Dave Tindall expects the key action to take place early...
"Rooney's introduction in the second 45 will likely interrupt the flow and Southgate is bound to shuffle his pack after the break anyway. Put that together with the fact that England have scored 11 of their last 15 goals in the first half and we have the basis for a bet."
England v USA
Thursday November 15, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports
Rooney's back... for some reason
This is actually happening, isn't it.
World Cup semi-finalists England are playing a game of international football and Wayne Rooney is coming back to wave and have a kickabout for a bit.
In a different environment, this could have gone down like a lead balloon but with Gareth Southgate so dedicated to Team England, it looks as if he's managed to sell it to the players.
It's weird but, presuming Rooney sticks to the plan of coming on late, perhaps it will all make little difference to what would have happened anyway.
England want to build on their summer exploits and won't want to let momentum slip after the eye-popping 3-2 win over Spain last time.
USA boosted by Pulisic return
Perhaps the F.A. should have balanced it up and allowed the USA to bring on Alexi Lalas for a cameo. Or perhaps he's gone back-packing.
Actually, Lalas has had his say, stating in his State of the Union podcast (check iTunes) that when it's over, it's over and Rooney, like all players, should pass the baton and step aside.
To be honest, Rooney would still probably walk into this United States side, one which failed to qualify for the World Cup and has won just one of its last six matches.
However, they are boosted by the return of Christian Pulisic, who theoretically should make a difference and, in reality, actually does.
The Borussia Dortmund star hasn't played for his country since May but prior to that had netted six times in his previous 10 internationals.
Former Chicago Fire coach Dave Sarachan is the man in charge for now and post-World Cup the USA have pitted themselves against teams we saw in the summer - Brazil (lost 2-0), Mexico (won 1-0), Colombia (lost 4-2) and Peru (drew 1-1). Results were mixed.
Rooney return hasn't impacted on odds
Although some have written this off a testimonial, the odds suggest it's still a proper contest and Rooney's presence is a sideshow that won't effect the actual result. That seems fair.
England are [1.29] to get the win, with USA [14.5] and The Draw .
The Three Lions have won seven of their 10 meetings with the Stars and Stripes, two of the shocks occurring in World Cups.
In 1950, a myth arose that the USA's 1-0 win was deemed so unlikely that it was presumed to be a typing error and hence was reported as a 10-0 or 10-1 England win. In 2010, we all saw with our own eyes Robert Green's howler which gave the Americans a 1-1 draw.
It's hard to see past England here but it's fair to perhaps give the USA a goal given that they registered against Mexico, Colombia, Peru and France in four of their previous five internationals.
Taking that angle and going England and BTTS boosts the basic win price up to [3.35].
Goals bet looks best
Rooney's introduction in the second 45 will likely interrupt the flow and Southgate is bound to shuffle his pack after the break anyway.
Put that together with the fact that England have scored 11 of their last 15 goals in the second half and we have the basis for a bet.
There's a few ways to play it but I like the idea of taking the First Half to have Most Goals at 11/5 (Sportsbook).
Rooney to go out with a bang?
There will be those who think fate decrees that Rooney signs off (again) with a farewell goal but it's just 5/6 and he might only get 15 minutes. A better option would be last goal at 10/3 but that's not for me.
Pro-Rooney backers will be encouraged by his eight goals in DC United's last eight games.
I just wonder if Raheem Sterling's two goals against Spain - ending his international drought which lasted 1,102 days - will open the floodgates.
It was confidence and fluffed chances rather than system or tactics getting in his way so there's no reason why he can't kick on.
Sterling has six Premier League goals for Manchester City this season and is 7/5 to score anytime at Wembley on Thursday evening.
Harry Kane to score first in an England win is 3.41 in the Same Game Multi market but that price goes odds-on if you opt for an anytime goal from the Spurs man.
Sterling anytime in an England win is 2.8.
For the USA, Pulisic is 4/1 to find the net and that isn't without appeal.
Dave Tindall's P/L, 2018/19
2pts 1st Half to have Most Goals at 21/10