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England-USA friendly had two chapters, both all about England


Wayne Rooney, England’s all-time leading goal scorer, made one last appearance (Ian Kington / AFP/Getty Images)

LONDON — The men’s soccer friendly between England and the United States on Thursday at Wembley Stadium was, for all intents and purposes, two disparate affairs.

The first, lasting 58 minutes, featured two young squads, one clearly superior to the other. In it, England scored two goals in less than two minutes midway through the first half and, by the end of the night, had strolled to a 3-0 victory — an exercise that demonstrated how very far the Americans must travel to redeem themselves after failing to qualify for last summer’s World Cup.

The second occasion commenced early in the second half, heralded by a raucous ovation from the crowd of 68,155.

Wayne Rooney had been invited to make one last appearance, a tribute to a national team career that began more than 15 years ago and produced more goals than anyone who has ever worn the famed Three Lions uniform.

The D.C. United striker last played for his country two years ago, but to honor Rooney and raise money for his charitable foundation, the English Football Association brought him back for a ceremonial farewell.

The overmatched U.S. squad was a sideshow for both events, especially after Rooney entered. He did not score, though he came close: Brad Guzan made a terrific diving save in the waning moments.

Rooney, 33, concluded his England career with 120 appearances, second on the program’s career charts. His 53 goals top the list, a total that will stand for quite some time as no active player is in the top 20. (Harry Kane, the current England ace, has posted 19.)

Before kickoff, English officials honored Rooney, who held his youngest child and was escorted by his other three while wife Coleen took photos from the sideline. After the match, he waved to the crowd and exchanged hugs with teammates and opponents.

The Americans will conclude their two-game European tour by facing Italy on Tuesday in Genk, Belgium — the final match of the year and probably the last act for Dave Sarachan, the interim coach for the past year.

General Manager Earnie Stewart, who has headed the search, accompanied the team this week and is likely to hire a replacement before the annual winter camp opens in early January.

The Americans are 0-4-1 against the Three Lions since beating them in 1993 in Foxborough, Mass. England commands the all-time series, 8-2-1.

On this night, the U.S. beginning — and, for that matter, the middle and end — was not encouraging. The Americans were chasing shadows all night, laboring to not only sustain possession but to take possession. Even with its least experienced starting lineup in 38½ years, England did as it pleased.

Guzan, the most experienced goalkeeper in camp, was dodgy in his distribution and his back line was a half-step off. In midfield, Tim Weah and Julian Green did not impress, while Weston McKennie and Wil Trapp failed to disrupt the hosts and didn’t spring many attacks. Forward Bobby Wood was marooned up front.

The Americans were fortunate to remain tied after the first quarter-hour and, in the space of one minute, the match turned from hope to misery.

Christian Pulisic, the U.S. star, collected his own deflected pass and bore down on goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. But after Pulisic veered right to create an angle, Pickford made a fine save.

The other way, Dele Ali drew two defenders and linked with Jesse Lingard at the top of the penalty area. With Matt Miazga slow to close him down, the World Cup midfielder curled the ball with artistry and accuracy into the top far corner of the net.

Two minutes passed before England struck again. Overlapping from his right-back position, Trent Alexander-Arnold, 20, accepted Jadon Sancho’s pass and thumped an angled one-timer from eight yards to the far corner.

Foes on this night, Sancho, 18, and Pulisic, 20, are teammates at Bundesliga leader Borussia Dortmund.

The Americans made improvements in the second half but were still no match for England. With players shuttling in and out, the Three Lions held their grip on the match.

Rooney’s entrance provided a jolt of a life to the game. His first genuine chance to score came in the 71st minute when he pumped an 18-yarder directly at Guzan. Later, he served a wonderful ball over the top of the U.S. defense.

England stretched the lead in the 77th minute when Callum Wilson, making his England debut, beat John Brooks and volleyed captain Fabian Delph’s cross into the near side from six yards.

Rooney tried his mightiest to get on the score sheet one final time, just missing out.

“If I was to have chosen a team to face, I probably would have picked [the United States] because it’s the two countries where I’ve played my football,” he said before the match. “It’s just a shame there are no D.C. United players in the squad — that would have been fitting.”

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