ENGLAND EYE THE GLORY DAYS
It's a World Cup ritual: Every four years the debate begins as to whether England will come close to reliving the glory days of 1966 when they hoisted the trophy. Since then, they’ve been to eight of 11 World Cup tournaments and have yet to reach the final. The hopes aren't high, especially since no European team has ever won the event on South American soil.
GROUP D SCHEDULE
WHO GOT THEM THERE
Wayne Rooney (F, Manchester United): The striker continues to be England's biggest star. In six World Cup qualifying starts, Rooney scored seven goals and is virtually irreplaceable up top.
WATCH: Wayne Rooney - Goal Machine
Steven Gerrard (M, Liverpool): The experience of the 33-year-old England captain can’t go understated. Patrolling the center of the pitch, the two-way player brings a calming presence, while continuing to produce.
Frank Lampard (M, Chelsea): England's critics will highlight the fact that the Three Lions still rely on the grizzled 35-year-old vetran alongside the aging Gerrard. The English will hope that Lampard's big-game experience -- and his still deadly long-distance shot -- will come through in the pressure cooker of Brazil.
Roy Hodgson has bounced around the coaching ranks, taking the helm of 16 clubs in eight different countries throughout the course of his career. A former defender in his playing days – never at the national level – the native of Croydon, England, has previous World Cup experience, guiding Switzerland to the knockout phase of the 1994 World Cup in the US.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
WCQ record: 6-0-4, 22 pts. / 31 GF, 4 GA (1st place in Europe's Group H)
England may have gone undefeated in qualifying with a stunning 31-4 goal differential, but a berth to Brazil still came down to the final two matches, home victories against Poland and Montenegro. They needed every point, edging out Ukraine by a single point to avoid a two-leg playoff.
WORLD CUP HISTORY
WATCH: England comes close in '90
It has been nearly 40 years since England claimed the ultimate prize of the World Cup. Since winning it all in 1966, they have failed to make the tournament three times and have never reached the final match – reaching the semifinal round just once, in 1990. Since then, they’ve failed to meet expectations, exiting the tournament no deeper than the quarterfinals.
Nearly 50 English-born players have suited up in MLS over the years, and the current dozen includes notables such as Houston's Giles Barnes, Vancouver's Nigel Reo-Coker and New York's Bradley Wright-Phillips. The most notable Englishman who has suited up in an MLS kit, of course, is former England captain David Beckham.
WATCH: Beckham's best MLS goal?
In the coaching ranks, current Chicago Fire coach Frank Yallop was born in England, even though he was raised in Vancouver and represented Canada internationally. Former Colorado Rapids coach and 2010 MLS Cup winner Gary Smith is from outside London.
On the international stage, the USA and England have done battle at the World Cup, most recently in South Africa 2010. Thanks to a major gaffe by England 'keeper Robert Green, the two sides ended in a 1-1 draw in the group-stage opener.
Although England have the overall advantage over the US in head-to-head meetings, winning seven of 10 contests, the Americans won the very first match vs. England, 1-0, in the 1950 World Cup.