United States 1, England 1
England’s players couldn’t get off the field fast enough. The
Americans lingered to savor the night.
They walked to the end of Royal Bafokeng Stadium where thousands
of red, white and blue-clad fans were waving the Stars and Stripes
and cheering their heads off.
Try convincing the U.S. team and its fans there wasn’t a winner
in the 1-1 draw with mighty England.
“We’ll take more out of a draw than they will,” said U.S.
goalkeeper Tim Howard, the man of the match. “They’re going to
feel like they should have won the game.”
Facing the Three Lions in the World Cup for the first time in 60
years, the United States rallied and then hung on for an instant
boost in confidence that they could advance to the second
Clint Dempsey became only the second American to score in two
World Cups, getting the tying goal in the 40th minute on a blunder
by goalkeeper Robert Green. Howard made six saves in his World Cup
debut, withstanding a second-half barrage by Wayne Rooney and his
“I think a lot of us came off the field satisfied with this
result, but maybe a little disappointed we didn’t get more out of
the game,” U.S. star Landon Donovan said.
Steven Gerrard put England ahead in the fourth minute, blowing
past Ricardo Clark to beat Howard from short range. Dempsey tied it
when Green fumbled his 25-yard shot that skipped off the ground
twice, yet another mistake in a long line by English
“Mentally we’re strong enough to get over it, and as a
goalkeeper these things happen,” Green told Sky TV. “You prepare
yourself for not letting it affect you.”
Anticipation had built for six months for the much-hyped game,
the first competitive meeting between the nations since the famous
1-0 U.S. upset at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil. There were viewing
parties across America, and several Major League Soccer teams
opened their stadiums to show the match from across the world on
large video boards.
“I’m sure they were excited in bars back home. I can only
imagine it was pretty intense,” Howard said. “We’re a resilient
side, you know. We’re a tough side and on our day we can put a good
Howard bruised his ribs when Emile Heskey’s foot slid into him
in the 29th minute. He was down for a while, grimaced several times
when play resumed and had a painkiller injection at halftime.
Then he saved the Americans time and again in the second half,
frustrating the very high-priced stars he faces each week when he
plays for Everton.
Howard said the hit “felt like agony.” After the match, he
felt sore and said he might need an MRI to make sure there isn’t
“Obviously the adrenaline is pumping,” he said. “In a couple
hours I’ll be struggling.”
Big defender Oguchi Onyewu played his first 90-minute game since
rupturing a knee tendon in the last World Cup qualifier on Oct. 14.
Forward Jozy Altidore, back from a sprained ankle, nearly put the
U.S. ahead in the 65th minute, but Green got a hand on his angled
shot and it deflected off the corner of the goal.
“A little unlucky,” the 20-year-old Altidore said after his
World Cup debut.
With each save late in the game, louder chants of “U-S-A!”
erupted from Sam’s Army and American Outlaws, groups who made the
long and expensive trip from home to sit among the vuvuzela-blowing
fans on a cool night in the Southern Hemisphere. The crowd of
38,646 included Vice President Joe Biden, who visited the U.S.
locker room before kickoff. Some players skipped his greetings.
“I was getting taped,” captain Carlos Bocanegra said.
England must try to regroup as it seeks its first major title
since winning the World Cup at home in 1966. The U.S., trying to
rebound from first-round elimination four years ago, got a boost as
it heads into first-round games against Slovenia on Friday and
Algeria on June 23.
While not a shocking win to match 1950, the U.S. earned a huge
single point in its quest to reach the second round for the first
time since 2002.
Both sides started out tentative and nervous. England broke on
top when Heskey took Glen Johnson’s throw-in and sent a through
ball to Gerrard broke in as Clark couldn’t catch him and flicked it
past Howard for his 17th goal in 82 appearances.
It continued a troublesome pattern for the Americans, who fell
behind in three of their last four qualifiers before coming back
for a draw or win.
“The funny thing is, we talk about, you know, don’t concede
early,” Bocanegra said. “And man, it’s been our trademark lately,
Dempsey, whose become a key player for Fulham in England, scored
on a play very similar to the goal by Croatia’s Niko Kranjcar that
went in off Scott Carson’s arm and helped eliminate England from
qualifying from the 2008 European Championship.
Dempsey took several touches, spun around Gerrard and hit a
dipping left-footed shot. The ball hit the field twice, glanced off
Green’s right hand and went into the net for Dempsey’s 19th goal in
63 national team games. Dempsey, who also scored against Ghana as
the U.S. was eliminated in 2006, matched Brian McBride in 1998 and
2002 as the only American to score in World Cups.
“At the last second, it moved a little bit,” Dempsey said.
“These balls move so much, you just hit them on goal, you have a
chance. It’s one of those goals you always say, `Why can’t I get
one like that?”’
David Seaman and David “Calamity” James are among the other
English keepers to make gaffes, one of the reasons Howard is among
three American starters in the 20-team Premier League.
Howard made a point-blank stop on Heskey’s 18-yard right-footed
shot in the 52nd minute and parried Lampard’s 20-foot left-footed
shot over the crossbar in the 63rd. Rooney had a quiet night,
failing to make good contact with a Gerrard cross while open on the
side of the goal in the 76th minute. The ball glanced off his head
and went harmlessly wide.
“It was a difficult game,” Gerrard said. “I think the
important thing in the first game is not to lose. Unfortunately,
we’ve let a poor goal in and we couldn’t go on and get the