CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Saturday, June 12, 2010
England vs United States
World Cup - Saturday June 12, 2010
Royal Bafokeng Stadium
England keeper Robert Green botched the simplest of saves, allowing Fulham's Clint Dempsey to notch the tying goal just before halftime as the Americans held favored England in Group C play.

After England took the early lead, the Americans mustered any opportunities they could, eventually being rewarded with an equalizer towards the end of the first half. Tight defending preserved the scoreline for the US in the second half, earning a point in Group C action.

The US found themselves in a hole within four minutes after Steven Gerrard capitalized on a gap in the American defense. At the top of the box Emile Heskey forwarded ahead to Gerrard slicing into the box ahead of a wayward Ricardo Clark and with ample space ahead of him, the Liverpool man coolly slotted home to the right of Howard for the early lead.

"That's been our trademark recently, conceding early," defender Carlos Bocanegra observed after the match. "We kept fighting for ninety minutes after that."

Already on their heels, the US tried to organize an offensive attack, earning a trio of corners on the right side, but failed to create any chances.

Their efforts finally resulted in their first true opportunity in the 19th minute after Landon Donovan lofted in a cross into the box. Jozy Altidore caught up with the delivery but headed just wide left.

English defender Aaron Lennon proved to be a dangerous presence on the right side throughout the first half, and tested the defense with a shot from the edge of the box that required an agile clearance from Steve Cherundolo.

In spite of all of the pregame discussion surrounding him, Wayne Rooney remained largely invisible in the first 20 minutes until a strike at goal that Howard fell upon with ease.

The Americans second opportunity of the first half came after James Milner brought down Cherundolo and received a yellow from referee Carlos Simon. On the ensuing free kick from 35 yards out, Donovan swung in a cross that Onyewu headed just wide of the left post.

Disaster nearly struck in the 29th minute cross from Lennon in from the right that Howard got a hand on, but took a Heskey foot to his chest. Although visibly shaken, the Everton keeper remained in the game.

"It's a scary thing. They're both going for the ball," Bocanegra later admitted. "Heskey lays out and Timmy lays out. Thank God he was able to continue."

While Howard was receiving treatment, James Milner was brought off for Shaun-Wright Phillips, having been abused by the stellar Cherundolo.

After the restart Altidore tried to spark the offense, testing Green with a dribbling strike from 25 yards out before Phillips followed up with his first attempt in the 38th minute, an individual strike that flew wide right.

A minute later Donovan continued to apply pressure with an effort that did not miss the left post by much.

Cherundolo saw his name entered into he referee's book after bringing down Wright-Phillips.

The tide turned for the Americans in the 40th minute when the unimaginable happened. On an improbable attempt, Clint Dempsey did well to elude Gerrard twice in the midfield and deliver a left-footed strike from 25 yards out. On what should have been a routine scoop, Green did not get a full hand on the ball and saw it dribble past him into his net for the equalizer.

"It's never nice to see that," Howard admitted about his crossfield counterpart. "Coming into the tournament I knew there was going to be some crazy goals with that ball."

Glen Johnson tried to answer the howler with an immediate cut in to the box and left-footed strike that Howard pounced upon.

The first half came to a close with a 1-1 scoreline and the Italian tactician Fabio Capello made his second substitution, bringing in Jamie Carragher for an injured Ledley King.

Referee Carlos Simon opened the second half by issuing his third yellow of the match to DeMerit after a handball three minutes after the break.

England missed a golden opportunity to retake the lead in the 52nd minute when Heskey found himself with a one-on-one situation with Howard, but aimed straight at the Everton netminder.

"He comes up with big plays in the game," Bocanegra pointed out of his keeper. "He's a huge part of this."

Carragher was booked at the hour mark for tripping Robbie Findley, and Gerrard followed suit for a foul on Dempsey at the edge of the box. Donovan stepped up for the free kick and connected with Bocanegra in the box, but the Rennes defender's header fell wide.

Frank Lampard attacked in the 64th minute with a strike that Howard lift over the bar. On the ensuing corner, Glen Johnson struck from the back-post but aimed far wide.

Back down the field, Altidore skinned Carragher alive and attempted to near-post Green, but the keeper was just able to deflect the shot off of the post.

England's poured on the pressure culminating with a Gerrard cross in for Rooney that he couldn't get a good head on.

Findley joined the yellow card club after a studs-up tackle on Gerrard in the 74th minute.

Following a Rooney strike that missed inches right of the net, Howard was tested again a minute later with a Wright-Phillips strike in the box on the left side, but the 31-year old swatted away to safety.

"Howard came up with some big saves for us," Dempsey told YA after the match. "We're lucky to have a keeper of his quality on our side."

With just over ten minutes to play, US coach Bob Bradley brought on Edson Buddle for Findley, and Capello relieved Heskey of his duties for Peter Crouch.

Rooney found Crouch within a minute from the left side but the 6' 7" striker nodded nowhere near the goal.

Bradley made his second substitution with four minutes to go, bringing in Stuart Holden for Altidore.

England controlled the ball for much of the remainder of the affair, but were unable to organize any major threats on goal.

Bocanegra gave credit to the team's performance and discredited the result to purely Green's gaffe. "It was obviously a mistake from the keeper, but we fought our way back into this game. That's what this team's all about. We fight for every inch of playing field out there."

The US was also bolstered by the play of the back line and its successful containment of Rooney.

"It was a good team effort defensively," said Bradley of his squad's ability to limit the Manchester United striker. "Rooney is such a mobile player, the way he moves around takes a good level of concentration. I thought in the first half there were still some times when our back line was a little bit out of synch, but I thought that got better in the second half."

Bradley also noted that Gerrard's early goal served as a wake-up call to his players to clamp down on the English attack and force their way back into the match.

"I think that play started with a throw-in, the ball went back to Lampard and we stepped up to close him down," he said of the lead-up to the Liverpool player's goal. "Next thing you know, there's a big hole in our back line. When you use the word manage, the ability to control certain situations and not over-commit, I think England made us pay. But it forced us to get ourselves going into the game very quickly after that because there's no more time to play your way in, you're already down a goal."

In the end, for Dempsey and company, coming back to salvage a point against the Three Lions left the US departing Rustenburg on a positive note.

"To go one goal down to England and fight ourselves back into the game," Dempsey added, "And end with a draw and a point, we'll be happy with that."

The US team returns to Irenen Country Lodge in Pretoria in preparation for Friday's second group stage game against Slovenia in Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
Tuesday June 15, 2010 10:24 am
I was shocked when I saw Ricardo Clark's name in the lineup. Its so obvious that he is playing with zero confidence right now. We need one of our two central midfielders to be a holding midfiedler. I think BB needs to either shift Dempsey into the middle or put Torres in the middle.
Monday June 14, 2010 7:37 pm
Outstanding individual efforts by Dolo, DeMerit, Dempsey, and Howard, and in the end, although disappointing, an acceptable result for the team,
although we ultimately punched below our weight offensively, with the match definitely there for the taking.

Let's not dig ourselves any more holes! In the end, it most often is settled by the determination of who wants it the most over the course of the entire match, and that starts right from the get go when the starting whistle sounds.

Clark should not start against Slovenia. and might have been pulled after England got an easy goal due to his flat footed, lackadaisical, out of position, carelessness in a very dangerous area of the field.

Against Slovenia, Holden, and/or Torres need to start in midfield with Dempsey up top with Jozy, or if only Holden starts, then Buddle or Gomez, up front with Jozy. Findley appears to be much better suited to being slotted as a sub, where he is potentially most effective.

Heskey, way late with his challenge, studs up, while failing to touch the ball, should, at minimum, have received a yellow card, if not an outright red. Heskey carelessly, and needlessly injured Howard without any justification, or punishment.

Green does not deserve to be villified; Dempsey did a good job turning the defender around, twice, then using the defender as somewhat of a screen, unleashing a solid shot, that took a dangerous skid before reaching Green.

While Green could and should have done better on that play, the overdone criticism of Green, also diminishes and discounts Dempsey's considerable skill and presence which he brought to bear on the same play.

Let's go USA, make it happen, and make it count!
Monday June 14, 2010 7:36 pm
From the looks of the match we stilll need someone really gifted with the ball, someone who can be a revellation, adu should have been that one.
Monday June 14, 2010 7:04 pm
At minimum, Bob needs to bring in Holden for Clark against Slovenia (with Landon moving into the middle). Clark was fine as essentially a fifth defender, but against a bunker-and-counter team that role just isn't necessary.

I don't mind keeping Findley up top. As mentioned previously, his pace seems to make defenses sag a bit, which is especially helpful for a squad that only has a couple of players (tops) that can take defenders on 1-v-1.

Donovan really didn't play too well against England IMO. Maybe a move to the middle could get him going, since most of his runs on the wings cut inside anyways.

If Torres was 6 feet tall, there's no question he would be a starting midfielder. But I think Bradley is really scared of a team taking advantage of his diminutive size. Yes, he is the same size as Messi, but Messi doesn't have near the defensive responsibilities that we put on our central midfield. (Plus, he's freaking Messi.) There really isn't any other explanation I can think of as to why he's never really had much of a chance to crack the starting XI. BB talks often about how the game is evolving, and I believe part of that is an increased focus on size/athleticism.
Monday June 14, 2010 5:37 pm
Well, one game down and no red card for Gooch! That has to be considered a success...

Seriously though, there were a couple of challenges that could've seen the English go a man down, they were lucky to only get yellows.

Have to say well done to all the boys and to our Coach. I always disagree with Bob until the end of the game, and once again he delivered the correct lineup for this situation.
Monday June 14, 2010 1:12 pm
I'm not sure why everyone is so hard on Clark. Of course his name came up only once. That's because the rest of the time, he and, to some extent, Bradley were doing their job in this game, which was to stifle the English attack, not to attack himself. It's too bad his name came up that one time, but the rest of the time, how much space did Gerrard have to distribute and Lampard to shoot? So Clark did his job. And there's no indication Torres, skillfuller though he may be at distribution and on the ball and in attack, would have done as good a job in that defensive, holding role. Against Slovenia and Algeria Torres would be a better choice, because they don't have any Lampards or Gerrards. In fact, we'll need as much creative attack as we can get especially against the Slovenes, as they, with their 3 points, will be happy to put 11 men behind the ball and do nothing.

And Findley, same story, we needed some pace and a player the English had never seen to keep them honest and open up for our real scorers, which is what he did. Vs. the other teams, it may make more sense to put someone who can score: Buddle would be my bet with Altidore. Torres for Clark, and everyone else the same, except, if we go up to get dolo out to stop the possible suspension.
Monday June 14, 2010 12:22 pm
Great result against England, but we can't hope to win with another goalee mistake! If Coach Bob does not change the lineup against Slovenia we will be in trouble. Now is the time to be aggressive and try to win with a 3 goal output. We need OFFENSIVE Mids in the lineup. Clark is not our best choice here. Findley is too inexperienced for this game. We need Torres to start with Bradley in the middle. Donovan and Holden on the wings and Demps underneath Altidore where he belongs. For defensive help use Edu. For offensive help sub Buddle or Gomez in for holden, torres or bradley if they are not playing well. As soon as dolo or demerit pick up a yellow, immediately sub spector in and pull the other guy with one yellow out or suffer losing both to not be able to play in the final game against Algeria which would spell disaster, as you would have to play Goodson or Bornstein, which could end our WC. Howard is having to make too many great saves. PROTECT HOWARD WITH BETTER DEFENSE, HE CANT SAVE US EVERYTIME!!!!
BC Britten
Monday June 14, 2010 3:54 am
I am very happy with the point and feel this game provides a good foundation for the team to build on. Slovenia and Algeria showed me very little today. If we can handle the mantle of favorites, something that we have not always been good at in the past, these teams are very beatable. Absolutely agree with all who like the Torres for Clark switch in the next game. He brings a calming influence to the team, adds possession and can intelligently distribute the ball to our attacking weapons. Not so sure about removing Findley. Even though his touch can be raw at times, his finishing questioned and his inexperience shows; he does provide some intangibles that do help the team. His speed and good running off the ball help create pockets of space for Donvan and Dempsey to do what they do. His work rate is good and he closes on defenders in possession to help eliminate easy outlets. He has even shown flashes of being able to link in attacking sequences. I don't think BB expects to get goals from Findley, even though I have a funny feeling he might nick one, but what he might get is that half yard of extra space for our true scoring threats, Jozy, Dempsey, Donovan and Bradley to find the net. Not sure weather Buddle and/or Gomez can provide more to make the team better. Here's hoping we can do what we have never done in the cup before, play three strong group games in a row. To my eyes, the opportunity has never been bettter. Go USA! Cheers
Monday June 14, 2010 12:28 am
A little bit of luck, but I'm not going to complain. The English weren't robbed of a win, they have plenty of chances to take all three points but couldn't due to good team coverage of Rooney and Timmy Howard's great form. Poetic that the American man of the match is the only one that could have started for the English.

Agree with the below comment about Torres seeing the field against Slovenia. I do understand the logic behind not starting him v England... Clark probably conceded that first goal, but I'm not sure that a diminutive Torres would have fared any better.

Getting the point was huge, but England NOT getting three points is probably bigger. Now they have to play against Slovenia and Algeria all-out to try and win the group.

Slovenia 0-0 Algeria today would have been great, but alas.

They say we play one good game, one bad game, and one okay game. That looked like our okay game, and we got a draw out of it. Lets play out good game against Slovenia (3-0), our "bad" game against Algeria (1-0), and take first place in the group! That sets up a match up with perennial underachiever Slovakia, or Ghana (REVENGE). (I don't see Australia finishing anywhere but dead last with Tim Cahill red carded). Uh oh, I better go knock on wood. *knocks*

GO USA! We have Tim Howard and he says...! Well, you know.
Sunday June 13, 2010 11:49 pm
1. Howard and Cherundulo were big. HOWARD & CHERUNDULO!
I understand that BB was scared to make substitutions during the game because Tim and Gooch condition were unknown.

2. From time to time I read Russian soccer blog. They do not have much respect for USA team. But during and after our game with England they said so many good words about our team that I’ve never read even on Yanks-Abroad. They think that we will reach ¼, at least.

3. To guaranteed entry to the next round we need:
a) beat Slovenia and draw with Algeria
b) drew with Slovenia and beat Algeria with 2 goal differential.
But if we do not want to meet Germany in 1/8 we have to try being the 1st in the group. Ghana and Serbia are good teams, but probably not as good as Germans.

4. Clark should be replaced by Torres or Edu. Findley’s speed is more beneficial when he is used as a substitute. Give Buddle a chance to score couple of goals.
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