Richardson's England hopes rest on raising club profile

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Young men have travelled to America with dreams in their baggage for centuries but few have seen them realised as quickly as Kieran Richardson did here on Saturday. Nevertheless, despite marking his international debut with two well-taken goals, it would be premature to anoint the Londoner as a new star in the England firmament. All one can say is that he has a chance of becoming an international fixture and that is rather more than anyone would have anticipated even a few weeks ago.

Young men have travelled to America with dreams in their baggage for centuries but few have seen them realised as quickly as Kieran Richardson did here on Saturday. Nevertheless, despite marking his international debut with two well-taken goals, it would be premature to anoint the Londoner as a new star in the England firmament. All one can say is that he has a chance of becoming an international fixture and that is rather more than anyone would have anticipated even a few weeks ago.

The last man to score twice in a debut for England, David Johnson 30 years ago against Wales, had a rum career in national colours. The former Ipswich and Liverpool striker scored in his next match, a 5-1 win over Scotland, but then drew a blank and was dropped. It was four years before he returned to score three goals in five further appearances, then disappear for good.

The same fate could happen to Richardson. Though there remains a vacancy at left midfield, and Richardson would seem to have drawn level, at least, with Stewart Downing and the right-footed Joe Cole, he must first win a regular place in the Premiership.

That much was emphasised by the England coach Sven Goran Eriksson when he said: "Richardson is young and talented but it is dangerous to say he is ready for the World Cup. He has to play more or less regularly and do so like this if he wants to take part in the World Cup."

Now he has returned to Manchester United after his loan spell at West Bromwich Albion, this will not be easy. Eriksson may have added: "I don't think Alex [Ferguson] has taken him back to sit on the bench all season," but even Ryan Giggs is uncertain of his place at Old Trafford. Richardson himself said: "Hopefully, I can keep in the England squad. To do that I need regular first-team football next season. If you're not playing the gaffer can't see how you're doing. Hopefully, next season I can be doing that for Manchester United."

The key, said Richardson, is playing. "I've improved so much from my three months at West Brom," he added. Phil Neville, a team-mate for first XI and reserves at United, said: "I could tell just in the short space of time that he's been out here with England the confidence he's gained by playing regular Premiership football. He's always had the talent and it was just that little bit of confidence that he has needed.

"Going away to West Brom he's gained that belief," Neville added, "and he took it into the game against the US. He was magnificent."

There was a word of caution from Eriksson's assistant, Steve McClaren, who had Richardson in his charge when coach at Manchester United. "He is a cocky young lad," McClaren said, "but if you want to play at the top you need to have that arrogance and self-belief. It's an asset for anybody but you need to control that, which is something he's got to learn through maturity and experience."

Richardson's emergence as a contender has, said Eriksson, justified this much-criticised tour. "What Kieran did makes the tour worthwhile," he claimed, "and it is not just him. Michael Carrick was very, very good. He is another we have not seen for a long time."

Carrick, playing his first international since 2001, Zat Knight, Joe Cole and Alan Smith all had reason to be content with their performance. There was also a debut for Luke Young, the 30th player used by Eriksson this season.

Less happy will be Sol Campbell, David James, Glen Johnson and Wes Brown. Andy Johnson looked short of the requisite class but had a hand in both goals and later drew a good save from Kasey Keller at the near post.

James looked uncertain, flapping at a Landon Donovan free-kick which struck the post, but, said Eriksson, will start against Colombia tomorrow. Glen Johnson's problem was his temperament. He twice tangled with opponents, though Johnson himself said: "I'm in control and I know what I'm doing," that did not seem the case from afar. "He is hot-tempered sometimes but he can control it," Eriksson said. "I know he has been sent off sometimes, but he is a huge talent."

Richardson's first goal came from a cute chipped free-kick after Eddie Pope fouled Andy Johnson on the edge of the US area. It was thought to be the fastest goal on an England debut since Bill Nicholson scored inside a minute against Portugal in 1951. His second was provided by Joe Cole, who had been released by Andy Johnson.

The Americans pulled a goal back late on through Clint Dempsey who followed up after James had denied Fulham's Carlos Bocanegra. England, though, narrowly deserved a win that avenged the 1993 defeat in Foxboro.

Goals: Richardson (4) 0-1; Richardson (44) 0-2; Dempsey (79) 1-2.

UNITED STATES (4-4-2): Keller (Börussia Moenchengladbach); Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Pope (Real Salt Lake), Gibbs (Feyenoord), Vanney (FC Dallas); Ralston (New England Revolution), Zavagnin (Kansas City Wizards), Donovan (LA Galaxy), Dempsey (New England Revolution); McBride (Fulham), Wolff (Kansas City Wizards). Substitutes: Bocanegra (Fulham) for Pope, 72; Convey (Reading) for Ralston, 72; Casey (FSV Mainz) for McBride, 81; Simms (DC United) for Dempsey, 90

ENGLAND (4-4-2): James (Manchester City); G Johnson (Chelsea), Brown (Manchester United), Campbell (Arsenal), A Cole (Arsenal); J Cole (Chelsea), Jenas (Newcastle United), Carrick (Tottenham), Richardson (Manchester United); A Johnson (Crystal Palace), Smith (Manchester United). Substitutes: Knight (Fulham) for Campbell, h-t; P Neville (Manchester United) for Richardson, 58; Defoe (Tottenham) for A Cole, 63; Young (Charlton) for A Johnson, 75.

Referee: B Archundia (Mexico).

Booked: US Pope; England A Cole.

Man of the match: Richardson.

Attendance: 47,637.

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