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From friends to foes: Reyna, Musah, Southgate, Berhalter and the close ties between the USMNT and England

12:39 GMT 25/11/2022
Reyna Berhalter Musah Southgate USMNT England GFX
Friends will become foes when the USMNT faces England in a crunch World Cup clash on Friday, with many participants very familiar with one another...

The U.S. and England have always been intertwined. You can look at the history, the politics and the cultures of it all but there's also the football.

For decades, England, and primarily the Premier League, has been seen as the pinnacle of this sport by American audiences.

And, in many ways, the connection between American soccer and English football has never been strong. And that's what makes Friday's match between the USMNT and the Three Lions so meaningful to so many.

Obviously, the stakes are high, for both sides. But there's also the fact that certain members of the two squads will be very familiar with their opponents.

From players born and raised in England to a cordial relationship between the two coaches, there will be plenty of friends turned foes on Friday night.

Below, GOAL explores the close ties between the two teams...

  • Robinson USMNT World Cup 2022

    Antonee Robinson

    The oldest of the USMNT's English-raised stars, Robinson has emphatically claimed the role as America's best left-back.

    Robinson was born in Milton Keynes and came through the Everton academy after joining the club at the age of 11. He signed his first professional contract with the club in 2015, but didn't really break out before loans to Bolton and Wigan.

    A permanent move to Wigan soon followed and, ultimately, a transfer to Fulham, after a move to AC Milan fell apart due to an irregular heart rhythm. He's been Fulham's starting left-back since, helping guide the club to the Premier League.

    Robinson's father was born in England, but raised in New York and gained American citizenship as a result. The defender has represented the U.S. from the U-14 level straight on through to this World Cup, where he'll now face the country he's lived in for his entire life in the USMNT's second group stage game.

  • Carter-Vickers Celtic 2022

    Cameron Carter-Vickers

    The centerback's road to the USMNT began with basketball.

    The defender's father, Howard, was an American basketball player who spent parts of his professional career in Europe. His mother, Geraldine, met his father in Greece, with Carter-Vickers eventually being raised in Essex.

    He spent some time in his father's native Louisiana, but primarily grew up in England, where he joined the Tottenham academy at age 11. He made five total appearances for Spurs while embarking on seven loans, with the last of those seven being made permanent when Celtic signed him in June.

    Carter-Vickers originally caught the eyes of American scouts in 2014 and, upon learning he had an American passport, was invited to represent the U-18s and U-23s later that year.

    He featured for the U.S. at the U-20 World Cup in 2015 and, despite interest from England's youth teams in 2016, he remained with the U.S. squad before earning his first senior cap in 2016.

    These days, though, his family's loyalties are split. "My family, half of them want us to win," he said ahead of Friday's game. "Half want England to win!”

    At the World Cup, he's the USMNT's third or fourth centerback behind Walker Zimmerman, Tim Ream and, possibly, Aaron Long.

  • Gio Reyna USMNT Wales 2022

    Gio Reyna

    Reyna is the son of USMNT legend Claudio Reyna and ex-USWNT midfielder Danielle Egan. He was born in Sunderland and was named after one his father's best friends in the sport, Dutch legend Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

    Internationally, Reyna was eligible for the U.S., England, Portugal or Argentina, but he ultimately settled on the U.S. – a decision that he says was quite straightforward.

    "There were opportunities in other countries, but, for me, it was pretty clear I wanted to play for USA the whole time," Reyna explained at a press conference ahead of the World Cup.

    "It's flattering when those other countries get interested and contact you, but for me it was USA the whole time."

    Despite some injury issues of the last year or so, Reyna has been a regular for the U.S. since making his debut in 2020.

    He was an unused substitute for the USMNT's World Cup opener against Wales, with Gregg Berhalter revealing that Reyna was dealing with tightness in his leg.

  • Yunus Musah USMNT 2022

    Yunus Musah

    U.S., England, Ghana or Italy – Musah could have seemingly played anywhere!

    The midfielder was born in New York while his Ghanaian mother was on vacation in the States and, shortly after, his family moved to Italy, where he first started playing.

    At age nine, he moved to London and joined Arsenal's academy, rising through the ranks before heading to Spain to play for Valencia in search of first-team football.

    He found it and an international tug-of-war quickly followed. He'd played for England up to the Under-18 level, so it was somewhat of a surprise when he agreed to join the USMNT for a pair of friendlies in 2020. He made his senior debut in that November camp, but soon earned attention from Gareth Southgate, who tried to recruit him to England.

    But, in 2021, Musah committed to represent the U.S. and is now a starting midfielder at the World Cup.

    "Things happen in mysterious ways," he told BBC Sport. "I was born in the U.S. for a reason. Now, I'm playing for the national team and I'm loving it. I've had to make a few big decisions in my career and they have paid off."

  • Brenden Aaronson Leeds 2022-23

    Americans in the Premier League

    While they may not have been born there, plenty of American players have represented the Stars and Stripes in England.

    Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra, Brad Friedel and Brian McBride have all previously made big marks in the Premier League.

    Meanwhile, this 26-man USMNT squad features eight players that ply their trade in England.

    “For me, growing up the Premier League was always the dream," said captain Tyler Adams. "I grew up a huge Thierry Henry fan, I think partially because he was great for New York Red Bulls but also growing up I watched a lot of Arsenal games and I admired him, how he played the game."

    He continued: "I think in America you see a lot of young players tuning into a lot of the Premier League games in the mornings. They're easy to tune into when the Bundesliga wasn't.

    “I remember telling my mom at a young age that I wanted to play in England and the culture is not too far off of what America has to offer.”

    Robinson is joined by Tim Ream at Fulham, while both Adams and Brenden Aaronson play for Leeds. There's, obviously, Christian Pulisic at Chelsea, while Matt Turner is currently Aaron Ramsdale's backup at Arsenal.

    Finally, Ethan Horvath and Josh Sargent will be familiar with English soccer as they play at Luton Town and Norwich, respectively.

  • 20221123 Southgate Berhalter

    A friendship between coaches

    It's not just the players that have relationships with opponents on the other side. In fact, Gregg Berhalter and Gareth Southgate have struck up quite a friendship in recent years.

    The two have praised each other plenty of times in the press and have exchanged tactical ideas throughout their time as national team coaches.

    The friendship is on hold, though, Berhalter says, at least until Saturday.

    "I've been WhatsApp-ing him but I haven't seen the blue checkmark, so I don't know what's going on," Berhalter joked at his pregame press conference. "We kind of took a hiatus. We'll pick up our relationship after tomorrow."