Saturday, June 12, 2010

United States Beats England: 1-1

Okay, I know, technically it was a draw, but it was one of those draws that felt like a win. Going into what was arguably the most anticipated US World Cup match since playing Mexico in 2002, it was hard to nail down how the match would turnout. While England is not the best squad in this tournament, they have players like Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, and John Terry, and a ton of expectation riding on their shoulders.

It seemed that the key for the US going into this match was maintaining form in the first 20 minutes. Conventional wisdom had it that if the US could keep England from scoring during the first 20 minutes, they were putting themselves in position to get a result. Unfortunately, the US did give up a goal in the first 20 minutes, the shaky American defense broke down and allowed Gerrard to score in the 4th minute.

Despite the early England goal, the US did not lose focus, instead they drew upon a certain workmanlike maturity that has developed since Bob Bradley replaced Bruce Arena as head coach and plowed on believing that the England lead would not hold. In the 40th minute, Texas native Clint Dempsey took a shot from distance that should have been an easy save for England keeper Robert Green who failed to get a secure grip on the ball, not surprising for Green, allowing the ball to roll into the goal giving the US the equalizer.

Ultimately the key for the US was the fact that they had 12 shots, 4 of which were on goal. While England did outshoot the US, the US never bunkered, they slowed the pace towards the end of the match, but they never bunkered. This is key, because as I noted above, there's problems with the US's backline. By starting Findley today, Bradley was sending a sign that he understands that the US defense is poor and that the team needs to stretch the field, relying on speed up top. While Findley is not the best finisher, his speed did help to keep England honest, keeping them from playing too far up.

While not as momentous as the 1-0 win over England in the 1950 World Cup finals in Brazil, today's draw was a solid result for the US, one they can build on as they look forward to Algeria and Slovenia. Getting a result from their big match with England should give US extra confidence in themselves, and extra swagger in their walk.

Here's a glimpse of what the English press is saying about today's draw:

England Miss out on fine start as USA benefit from Robert Green gaffe - The Guardian

USA tame three lions of England - The Times

606 Football Phone In on BBC 5 Live

Wayne Rooney left frustrated as Americans keep striker subdued - The Telegraph

England 1 - 1 USA: Match Report - The Telegraph

England 1 USA 1, Robert Green's clanger gifts Americans draw in opening Group C clash - The Daily Mail

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