England Prove They're Heading in the Right Direction Under Roy Hodgson

Jeff Yoder@jyode8Contributor IJune 20, 2014

England's Wayne Rooney, right, celebrates with teammate Ross Barkley after scoring his side's first goal during the group D World Cup soccer match between Uruguay and England at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, June 19, 2014.  (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Michael Sohn/Associated Press

England sits at 0 points in Group D. They were eliminated with Costa Rica's 1-0 win over Italy. It's hard to look at the positives for the England club, but they're there. Following two 2-1 losses to open the World Cup, they may not have a win but they're certainly heading in the right direction. 

The English didn't have drastic struggles in their first two matches like Spain, the former champs, nor did they fail to control possession and attack efficiently. 

Striker Wayne Rooney finally got his first goal of the World Cup late in England's second match with Uruguay, the No. 7 team in the FIFA rankings. Rooney's tap-in off a great cross was the equalizer late in the second half. Uruguay's Louis Suarez answered minutes later with his second goal of the match to put England in their place. 

In the first match against Italy, the No. 9 team in the FIFA rankings, it was Daniel Sturridge who struck the only English goal, also an equalizer. Sturridge knotted it up late in the first half but Italian striker Mario Balotelli answered with what would be the game-winner in the 50th minute.

Despite England's losses, manager Roy Hodgson will not resign following the World Cup according to BBC.com, and rightfully so. England's squad hasn't won a game yet in the 2014 World Cup, but they nearly tied or defeated each of their first two opponents, two top-10 teams in FIFA World Cup ranking.

No one had the expectation that England should advance out of this group. That's a tall task to request. But the improvement from England and the fact that they were a few Joe Hart saves away shocking a few teams shows where this group is headed.

London reporter Craig Hope noted the ironic timing of the Hodgson revelation during the Costa Rica vs. Italy game:

England outshot Italy 18-12 and took nine corners compared to the Italian's two while possession was nearly even. A stat sheet that illustrates how England outplayed the Italians. 

England - Italy
TeamShotsShots on GoalSavesGoals

With Uruguay, England had 13 shots compared to 10 from Uruguay and they controlled 62 percent of possession in the match. Not as dominant in the shot column, England controlled the game in its entirety with the exception of a few Louis Suarez stunners. 

England - Uruguay
TeamShotsShots on GoalSavesGoals

One stat to keep in mind for England is the performance of Joe Hart. Normally one of the most highly regarded goalkeepers in the world, Hart has made just seven saves while giving up four goals. Opposing keepers in World Cup play have given up a combined total of two goals while making 14 saves. 

Hart hasn't played awful, but when he's on his game this team could turn heads. 

This year's World Cup hopes have been shattered for England, but there is a silver lining for the club. They were a few bounces away from stealing two wins or draws in Group D, which is an incredible boost of confidence moving forward. 

Heartbreak aside, England have plenty to be proud off through two World Cup games. Young talent like Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck continue to make strides on the attacking side of the ball, as well as winger Raheem Sterling, who all played a large role in the number of shots England produced (seen above) throughout the two contests. 

The test now for this young group is how to play against an advancing Costa Rica team next week with absolutely nothing on the line. 

Look for Hodgson to use this game as a building block for this group, a group he will be with through 2016, and a group with loads of young talent looking to experience one more World Cup game solely for the purpose of getting better.