A 1-1 draw is a very good result for the US. They played 80 minutes of high quality football (excluding the first 10 minutes), were able to fight back and get a little bit of luck to get a big point from England. I was right on two of my predictions, but was surprisingly incorrect on another. I was right about Steven Gerrard being a complete pain for the US and he was a terror on the ball all night for the US. I was also right about Clint Dempsey claiming the US goal, though plenty of credit goes to Rob Green for an early Christmas present. However, the prediction apart from the core that was surprisingly incorrect was about Wayne Rooney. The US defense did a tremendous job after the opening goal, pestering both Wayne Rooney and Emile Heskey in the middle, and Aaron Lennon on the outside. The US defense earned them that point, and while Jozy Altidore nearly gave the US a big victory, a draw is about the right result.
Let’s talk about some of the more minute details of the match with some word association.
Selecting Emile Heskey at forward was ________.
STUPEFYING. I have no clue why England went with Heskey other than Rooney being a big fan of his. If you watched the game, you saw England swinging cross after cross into the box and no one being able to really get to them. That is what Peter Crouch was born to do but he did not get in until a late substitution. Martin O’Neill, Heskey’s manager at Aston Villa, did not play Heskey the final 8 or 9 games for a reason. That reason is because he is not good. Very odd choice Capello.
Rob Green’s goal was __________.
HILARIOUS. Everyone in England knows that keeper is not their strong suit, but few thought it would only take one half of soccer to realize just how insecure they are at keeper. That was one of the softest goals I have seen in a while, and as a US fan, it was gut-bustingly funny. It was really a gift to the US, and we cordially thank him for it. You know “God Save the Queen”? I bet you no one in England is singing “God Save Rob Green” right about now.
The Man of the Match for the US was ___________.
A TIE BETWEEN TIME HOWARD AND STEVE CHERUNDOLO. Howard really saved that game for the US, but that is hardly a new thing for the United States fans. He was every bit of outstanding he needed to be and really deserves the award. However, I want to give a lot of credit to Steve Cherundolo. Plenty of credit goes to Carlos Bocanegra, Jay DeMerit and Oguchi Onyewu as well for their superb defense on Rooney, Heskey, Gerrard, etc. but Cherundolo was outstanding. He not only did a great job defending Aaron Lennon, but he made England’s wingers defend when he would charge up the wing. I saw him lose the ball very few times, and force England into plenty of mistakes and fouls as he attacked. That was supposed to be reversed as England’s wing was expected to give the US problems, but it was really the opposite and a lot of credit goes to Cherundolo.
Robbie Findley was ___________ up front.
A BREATH OF FRESH AIR. We thought we lost a lot of pace when we lost Charlie Davies, and we did, but we replaced a lot of it with Findley. In the second half especially, he tormented Jamie Carragher and the English defense, and really made things exciting. Between Findley and Altidore, it actually seemed like the US had a chance at goals on most of their runs. That is something that cannot be said of the US most days, AND it meant fewer boring long balls since they were working the ball so well.
Landon Donovan was _________.
SOLID. He did not get on the scoresheet, but every ball he delivered was crisp, on target and nearly resulted in goals on many of his crosses. He was clearly targeted by England, and Ashley Cole did a good job, but Donovan was still able to contribute to the team even without scoring. The sign of a good player is when he can still help his team even when the other team has done everything they can to take him away as a threat.
A draw for the US is a __________ thing.
REASSURING. I had the US losing this game and facing an uphill battle to qualify against Slovenia and Algeria. This point steadies them a little with wins more than possible in their final two games, which would even give them a shot at qualifying first in the group, though they would need some help for that. More than anything, it reassures the players that they belong at the highest levels, which is a big confidence boost, and it reassures the fans that their team is going to do all it can to get results.