Most of the talk after the most anticipated game the US has played in recent memory was centered on the mistake England goalkeeper Robert Green made. I read and heard casual fans and fanatics alike conclude that the draw was a lucky result for the US. What that conclusion fails to understand, however, is that the context of the game dictates the approach the players’ take. In other words, if Green stops Dempsey’s shot, the rest of the game would not unfold just as it did Saturday. The US would push forward more, and I am convinced, would have scored. You could just as easily say that England was lucky to draw because Green made a wonderful save on Jozy Altidore, knocking his low hard shot off the crossbar after Altidore burned the hack of a defender Jamie Carragher…or that England surely should have won if not for Timmy Howard’s tremendous save after Emile Heskey broke through. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry World Cup.
Some other observations:
- I was really hoping to get a win, but pleased with a point. I love rooting for this team because every player gives his all. You’d think that would be a given for all teams at the World Cup, but it’s not. I don’t think the US has a selfish player on the roster.
- I was quite pleased with the Brazilian referee. He let the players play, for the most part. Robbie Findley easily could’ve been sent off for his late, dangerous tackle that resulted in his cleats against Gerrard’s (I think) ankle. That tackle was worse than all three tackles that resulted in ejections for Ricardo Clark, Sacha Kljestan, and Michael Bradley in last year’s Confederations Cup. Equally, Heskey could’ve been sent off for his late, studs up challenge to Howard’s ribs.
- The US defense played really well, though it did get stretched a few times when Oguchi Onyewu or Jay DeMerit would step up and the other defenders wouldn’t (England’s goal is the prime example). Gooch’s performance was much improved over what he showed against the Czechs. I was glad to see him playing well.
- Steve Cherundolo was awesome. He was so much better than James Milner that Milner was substituted before 30 minutes went by! His defending was flawless and he should’ve been rewarded with an assist when he delivered a perfect cross to Altidore in the first half. Unfortunately, Altidore bungled the header.
- DeMerit was really, really good. He shut down Wayne Rooney. I love the way DeMerit plays. If Rooney had to face DeMerit every game, he quite possibly would end up with a scraggly, ginger beard living in a trailer park.
- I would have liked to see higher, tighter pressure from Clark, Bradley, and Bocanegra. We gave England too much time and space on the ball for all but maybe the final quarter of the field.
- Bob Bradley needed to make an earlier substitution to get Holden, Feilhaber, Torres, Edu, or Beasley on the field to do some defending in the wide parts of the field. The players were visibly tiring, and England was gaining momentum. That said, when Holden went in he looked like a deer in the headlights.
- Steve McManaman is an a-hole. Typical English fanboy. His “3-1, easy” prediction was a joke, as was his despondency after the game. Have some sense and balance.
- Martin Tyler makes me want to hurt myself. The physiology and psychology line was hideous. I hate his gross generalizations and his complete lack of knowledge about anything outside of England.
- I like the insight Ruud Gullit and Alexi Lalas provide. I don’t always agree with Lalas, but I appreciate his willingness to call out the Eurosnobbery.
- Why is Disney/ABC/ESPN obsessed with Fabio Capello and slow motion replays? He is handsome and wears nice, Italian suits. We get it. Give it a rest, please. Just show the game.