RUSTENBURG, South Africa -- Legions of hopeful U.S. supporters, who may wonder if they'll ever see another World Cup campaign that doesn't start unraveling inside of five minutes, do have something to feel pretty good about:
The response this time was immense.
The American's part of the 19th World Cup began in startling disarray but finished in a well-earned 1-1 draw inside the pulsating Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
It's all still there at South Africa 2010 for the United States, which made the best of
A draw will surely suffice -- even against an England team seems curiously lacking in self-belief -- for this historic clash, easily the most highly anticipated soccer contest in United States history.
A U.S. side with precious few offensive ideas and even fewer connections between a pair of young forwards matched England's early goal on one of their own as Clint Dempsey's soft shot from 25 yards inexplicably escaped Green's grasp. That was enough in a scrappy little ragamuffin of a match, but one that U.S. coach
It must be a terrible disappointment for an England team hopeful of so much more than the familiar quarterfinal crash and burn. Barnstorming England forward
An industrious U.S. midfield mostly played it safe, never really putting England on its heels but digging in, holding its shape and doing what needed to be done.
"There was a big battle in midfield all night long, and I felt our midfield did well all night," coach Bradley said.
The hapless flashbacks to four years earlier surely swept through U.S. fans (and probably some players, too) as an American side looking nervous and naïve allowed Gerrard to slip through unmarked in the fourth minute. Four years ago in Germany,
We hear about players "switching off." Clark apparently forgot to switch on at the opening whistle. He lost track of Gerrard on England's first real surge. DeMerit couldn't contain
"England made us pay, but I think it forced us to get ourselves going into the game very quickly after that, because there was no time to play your way into the game after that," Bradley said.
Outside of Gerrard's early goal, all was hardly peaches and cream for the Three Lions, who seemed oddly content with the slim lead and only occasionally got enough numbers forward to seriously threaten the Americans for the first 70 minutes.
Shortly after came disaster for England, ostensibly the land of goalkeepers. That moniker seems up for grabs after England's No. 1 made such a ridiculous mess of Dempsey's ordinary shot.
Oh, how the British tabs will crush Green for this one. He surely can't blame the ballistic oddities of the Jubalani match ball for his shoddy work, which could well be the howler of the year. Dempsey pointed skyward in celebration -- divine intervention, indeed.
"I take responsibility," Green said. "It was my mistake. I've made mistakes in my career and I'm strong enough to bounce back. "
As for his counterpart, the site of Howard on the ground unnerved the U.S. contingent in the 29th. Heskey went clattering into Howard with both feet, without a word from Brazilian referee
Just a few promising U.S. moments could be found after the break, as
England gained momentum after about 70 minutes but never found a way past a gradually improving Onyewu and Howard.