The United States got a good result in today’s match against England. After falling behind courtesy of Gerrard’s cool finish, the Yanks did well to get themselves level and are off to a good start to the 2010 World Cup with their 1-1 tie.
One thing is for sure, it wasn’t luck that got them the well deserved point. While Robert Green’s mishandling of Clint Dempsey’s shot led directly to the Yanks only goal, Green has been prone to those kinds of mistakes throughout his career. I told my friends that if USA just put dangerous crosses or shots on frame, and forced Green to just touch the ball, he would eventually give up a goal from fumbling it. If I picked up on that, I’m sure Dempsey knew the same thing when he attempted his shot.
(Side note: Any talk about how the Adidas ball played a role to Green’s fumble is foolish. He routinely makes the same mistakes with the EPL Nike ball every Saturday. I didn’t see South Africa’s Itumeleng Khune or Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama struggle with making routine saves. Green just isn’t a world class keeper. It has nothing to do with the ball.)
While goalkeeping will probably be the demise of England’s World Cup chances, the same cannot be said for USA. Tim Howard was his spectacular self and was easily the Man of the Match. Howard put on the same impressive display as Brad Friedel did in the United States’ memorable run in WC2002. If Howard continues to play as a Top 5 Goalkeeper in the world, the Yanks will surely get to the second round.
Player ratings: (1-10; 10 = best)
Tim Howard, goalkeeper, 8.5 — Man of the Match. Handled shots with extreme calm and composure, never giving up a rebound. Did well to thwart Heskey and Phillips’ second half breakaways. World class performance. Continues to make me wonder how the US would’ve fared had he started in 2006.
Carlos Bocanegra, defense, 5.5 — Did well holding down the left flank against Lennon and Johnson. Faded late in the game but is clearly the best left back the US has to offer. Should have done better with his header off Donovan’s cross.
Jay DeMerit, defense, 7 — Locked down Rooney for most of the game. Rooney didn’t get his first touch until the 17th minute and didn’t have a dangerous look at goal until late in the second half. To contain a world class striker for that long is impressive.
Oguchi Onyewu, defense, 6 — Surprise starter for the United States given his fitness being suspect but delivered a strong 90 minutes. Made some timely tackles but was caught in a bad position on Gerrard’s goal.
Steve Cherundolo, defense, 7.5 — Fabio Capello revealed that the first half substitution of Milner for Phillips was due to Cherundolo. He continued to beat him along the right flank and was very active in the attack. Even when Phillips was introduced, he continued to defend well. Will be the first choice right back for the rest of the tournament.
Clint Dempsey, midfield, 6.5 — His strike for goal wasn’t the best, but he showed he had the right instincts to take such a shot. Was a workhorse in the defensive end, tracking back constantly.
Michael Bradley, midfield, 6 — Did well tracking with Gerrard and Lampard for most of the game. Clearly was more concerned with containing them than getting involved in the offensive end. Will be looking forward to him making those smart runs in the next two games.
Ricardo Clark, midfield, 3 — Huge mental mistake when he failed to track with Gerrard. When your main job is to contain England’s midfielders, letting one slip by you for a goal is a monstrous error. Surprised he wasn’t taken off for Torres whose passing would’ve been a breath of fresh air compared to Clark’s distribution today.
Landon Donovan, midfield, 5 — Largely anonymous for most of the game. Did well with his set piece delivery and put on a strong defensive performance. But as a leader of the team, would’ve loved to see him find ways to get more involved in the attack.
Jozy Altidore, forward, 6 — Has been drawing some rave reviews for his performance. Showed off his power and pace when he blew by Carragher and was unlucky to not score on that run. Missed a header as well, but continues to show plenty of promise in becoming a world class striker.
Robbie Findley, forward, 4 — Looked tentative and unsure what to do most of the match. With how slow England’s centerbacks are, I was surprised he didn’t get more chances. Should play better against weaker defenses in the next two games.
Edson Buddle, forward, 4.5 — Surprised it wasn’t Gomez coming on but Buddle did alright. Didn’t make much of an impact other than taking one wicked shot that was blocked.
Stuart Holden, midfield, not rated — Came on too late for a grade, but didn’t make any mistakes.