USMNT / World / World Cup

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: USA 1, England 1

Robert Green made one great blunder and one great save to preserve the draw today. His Dr. Jekyll moment was saving a blast from Jozy Altidore at the near post from close range. His Mr. Hyde moment was allowing Clint Dempsey’s long range shot to bounce off his gloves and into the goal.

Although Robert Green wasn’t the only reason for the draw, his individual efforts or lack there of were the defining moments. Altidore had two clear cut chances, but was unable to convert them. He had a close range header and then a close range shot coming off of a great run past Jamie Carragher. The header didn’t get on frame, and Green got a touch on his other shot that ricocheted off the post and away to safety.

The English created at least five clear cut chances that they should have put away. Their poor finishing can be summed up by Emile Heskey blasting it straight into Tim Howard’s stomach on a break away with almost the whole goal gaping. That’s not to say that Howard didn’t make some spectacular saves and hold onto the ball when he needed to. His performance was excellent.

The US defense also played well with Steve Cherundolo having an extremely good night both offensively and defensively. James Milner was even substituted early in the first half because of Cherundolo consistently beating him going forward. Oguchi Onyewu came up with a handful of timely stops, and DeMerit helped keep Wayne Rooney out of the game. Bocanegra got skinned by Aaron Lennon a couple of times, but held his own for the most part.

The English controlled the game for the most part, and it looked like their game to lose. The English had a much higher pass completion rate and pressured the US repeatedly. They just couldn’t get it past Tim Howard barring Steven Gerrard’s early goal, which came from a moment of brilliance from the English and some poor marking by Ricardo Clark.

The odd thing about the match was that the English seemed content to take the draw. They didn’t press as hard as I thought they would towards the end. The English played it safe. I think that actually bodes well for them going forward. They weren’t on their game today, and they must have realized that they could get caught on the counter-attack. More than likely the English will defeat the Algerians and the Slovenians, but if something should go awry the draw today gives them 1 of the 4 points teams historically need to advance. If they had gotten caught on the counter- attack and lost today, then the team would have been devastated. Fabio Capello must have believed that the risk was not worth the reward. The cobwebs and jitters are now over, so expect the English to come out and destroy the Algerians in their next game.

For the Americans this is a great start. It gives them confidence that they can compete with a top ranked team. The Americans might also feel that luck is on their side. We got lucky today, but we also played decently against the English. Hopefully, the World Cup jitters are gone and the US will settle down and play better against the Slovenians in the next match. They did show some close slick passing and some well conceived counter-attacks at times. Hopefully, Torres will take Clark’s spot for the next match to carve up the Slovenian defense. What did you think of the game and what changes would you make for the Slovenia game?

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