All of the focus after the game has been on Robert Green’s shocking error in front of the England goal. In the press, especially in the English press, Green will be depicted as the man that deprived England of a victory. While Green makes an easy scapegoat, and should be criticized for the error, the United States was not gifted a draw. No, they earned it.
It is impossible to know how the game would have ended up without Green’s error, but the US after giving up an absolute nightmare goal in the first 5 minutes responded well and pushed forward. Altidore flicked a header wide after a great cross from Donovan and the US at one point had three corners in a row, through which they looked dangerous. That being said, England were just as likely to score the next goal, as the US was forced to push up. In fact, the first half uncomfortably resembled the US’s first game against the Czech Republic four years ago in the World Cup. Then, like yesterday, the US gave up an early goal and followed it by a solid response in which Claudio Reyna almost leveled after 20 minutes. But instead of pulling level, the US – forced to push forward – was exposed by the Czech’s on two counterattacks, losing 3-0. History, however, doesn’t always repeat itself.
After the US pulled level, they didn’t descend into a defensive shell and the English, while creating some good chances, rarely dominated the game for extended periods. In fact, it was Altidore who came closest in the second half, with a strong pacey run that saw Green deflect the shot off the inside of his post.
In the end, the US kept England in check. Rooney and Lampard were invisible and they failed to effectively to take advantage of their pace on the wings with Lennon and Wright-Phillips. What is most pleasing from a US perspective, is that a draw was earned and they didn’t play their best game.
Some more thoughts:
Wayne Rooney was a zero. Don’t expect the English to cast a critical eye to their golden boy, but Rooney did almost nothing yesterday. Jay Demerit and Oguchi Onyewu did well to contain him, and the game plan of using two holding midfielders in Michael Bradley and Ricardo Clark prevented Rooney from getting much service.
The US central defense looked strong. Gooch and Demerit looked very solid and seemed to have sorted out the problems on crosses that was evident against Australia. Rooney was a non factor and save for one or two errors, overall were very solid. The England goal was not either defenders fault and if anything Gerrard needed to be tracked by Ricardo Clark in the midfield. The breakaway from Emile Heskey in the second half was a byproduct of Onyewu actually winning a challenge only to have the ball run away from him to Aaron Lennon who put Heskey in – Bocanegra should have been there to cover.
Landon Donovan was quiet but neutralized Ashley Cole. When Donovan got on the ball he was fairly influential, but the danger of playing him out wide was exposed, as he wasn’t able to get the ball nearly enough. It also didn’t help Donovan that he was up against one of the best left backs in the world in Ashley Cole. In the end, the Donovan and Cole sort of canceled each other out. Cole rarely made any dangerous forward runs as he was forced to deal with Donovan.
Altidore looked dangerous and overall played well. While he didn’t score, he did create some chances for himself and had a shot off the post in the second half – which was the closest either team came to scoring in the second half. The run that Altidore made on that attempt showed why he is so dangerous. He turned and out muscled Jamie Carragher 40 yards from goal and blew past him.
The central midfield was good defensively. Clark had a bad moment on the first goal, but throughout he worked hard and essentially helped neutralize Frank Lampard. However, when the US got the ball they really missed a more creative player like Feilhaber and Torres. But overall Michael Bradley played very well and did a good job acting as quarterback.
Jamie Carragher chould (perhaps should) have been sent off. What hasn’t really been talked about was Jamie Carragher’s blatant obstruction on Robbie Findley who was free on goal. Now for the English fan that could have been seen as experienced defending. But it could also have been seen as an obvious obstruction, as there was no attempt to play the ball, as Carragher was clearly beaten for pace. If a foul had been called, it would have had to have been a yellow and Carragher (who had been booked earlier for a reckless challenge on Findley) would have been sent off.
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