The United States Men’s National Team was able to score a mini-victory during it’s 1-1 battle with England to open the World Cup for both teams. The match-up marked only the second World Cup meeting between the two countries. The previous encounter in 1950 led to a surprise 1-0 victory for the rag tag Americans. This match, 60 years later, was played on a much larger stage and likely reached millions of viewers.
It did not take long for England to test the American defense. In the 4th minute, a throw-in led to Emile Hesky finding a streaking Steven Gerrard to open up scoring for England. The key move was a dummy by Wayne Rooney that seemed to leave US defender, Oguchi Onyewu in no-man’s land. Gerrard’s perfectly timed run put him a step ahead of Ricardo Clark and a clinical flick put away the ball past a sprawling Tim Howard. The early goal was the worst case scenario for the US. However, the Americans were able to weather the initial storm and sustain possession after the nervous opening 20 minutes.
The game seemed to flow back and forth as both teams looked to explore the opposing back lines. Rooney did not get his first touch until nearly 18 minutes into the match. Jay DeMerit was charged with the adventure of marking the world-class striker. DeMerit turned in a superb effort in stymying the Man United scorer. Rooney was relegated to a few long-range efforts and seldom seemed threatening. Midway through the first half, the English back line began to find difficulty with protecting against the quickness of Robby Findley and daring of Jozy Altidore. Both men proved their class against a make shift back line. The poking and prodding by the American attack did little to scare keeper Robert Greene. However, Greene proved to be his own enemy as he allowed a weak Clint Dempsey shot to escape his grasp and trickle into the net. It seemed almost fitting that it would be England’s biggest question mark entering the tournament that would provide its first headache.
The goal seemed to spur the Americans into action. The second half saw numerous chances for the US to pull ahead. The best chance came from Jozy Altidore as he sped by Jaime Carragher and found the post after a deflection off the keeper. The American back line stood tall as the English launched wave after wave of attackers toward the US goal. Steve Cherundolo and Carlos Bocanegra were stout in defense and did well against the pace of England’s wingers. The ultimate praise goes to keeper Tim Howard. He was superb in-goal and was the single reason the US was able to get a point out of the contest. Howard continues to stake claim to being a top keeper in the world.
The US was able to walk away with a sense of accomplishment after the draw with England. The group is now up for grabs and will hinge on the outcome of Slovenia/Algeria. If either team comes out with a victory, both the Americans and English will be faced with the need to run the table to be assured a place in the next round.
The US next faces Slovenia on June 18th. Be sure to check back for a match preview and post game. Also follow Desperate America on Twitter for live updates and analysis.