Posted with permission via HereComeTheYanks.com
Ok, so my prediction of a 3-1 USA victory didn't come true. But I can honestly say that I am extremely happy with a 1-1 draw!! There were times where we looked shaky (first 15 minutes). But there were also times when we were taking it to them (Jozy's great run down the flank only to be denied by the woodwork).
Key points in the match:
1. England's goal: It was less than five minutes into the match when Gerrard & Co. exploited the USA backline and scored. We were all sitting there saying, "Oh great. Here we go." But the response after this play was key for the USA. We didn't immediately sit back on our heels and play all out defense. We continued to play tough, aggressive defense, and work the ball up towards the England goal. Our heads did not drop. We kept our spirits up by attacking and playing as if it was still 0-0. Isn't this what every coach wants of their team regardless of the scoreline?
2. Dempsey's goal: It was ambitious to say the least. But a goal is a goal. It still counts as 1 on the scoreboard (though, strangely, there was no scoreboard or time in the stadium in South Africa). There are no lucky goals, only less skilled goalkeepers (I came up with that when an English friend of mine continued to call our goal lucky). I feel bad for the kid...but not too sorry. He DOES play for the opponent. This was the point in the match when the Yanks believed they really COULD shock the world and gain a victory.
3. Tim Howard, Tim Howard, Tim Howard: Tim Howard. What more can I say? The man stopped pretty much everything that came at him. He was a rock at the back. His leadership and vocal...ness (is that a word?) kept the back four sorted. And all while clutching his pained ribs. That was a vicious hit...cleats up into his chest as he, himself, is diving full stretch towards Heskey. I don't know many people in the world that could get up after that hit and, not only keep playing, but play even better! If you are an American and didn't know who Tim Howard was, you know who he is, now.
Players of the match:
1. Tim Howard: For all of the reasons I listed above and more. He played out of his mind and came back well after the injury. Here's to hoping he is fit to play on Friday (come on...it's the World Cup. He'll play!!).
2. Clint Dempsey. The American goal scorer. He is only the second Yank to score in two separate World Cups. And I really don't think he's closed his account for 2010. Look for more wonder strikes from Deuce!
3. Oguchi Onyewu: The vast majority of questions leading up to the match were about this man...can he last a full 90 minutes, and can he play up to the standard of play he exhibited prior to his patellar injury? He answered both questions with a resounding "Yes!" Not only did he last the whole game, but it looked like he could have lasted another half! The man was everywhere on defense (except for the goal, which had him flat footed and out of position). Even when we had free kicks, Gooch was one of the main targets in offense. And remember that two inch vertical he showed off in the Czech Republic friendly? It's great to see he is back to the old Gooch...leaping above almost everyone to clear the ball or make it tough for the opponent. Keep this form, Gooch!
I'm still not sold on starting Robbie Findley over Buddle or Gomez. Buddle seemed to have the job won following the Australia match last week, but, as my friend R.J. Pooch says..."In Bob we trust." I feel bad for Mr. Gomez, though. Going through the entire training camp not even sure you'll make the final 23...then getting the opportunity to step on the field to make your World Cup debut (no matter how brief it would be), only to have the ref call the match while you are at the midline waiting to step on...painful. He'll get his shot, though.
We started slow...like we have in seemingly every game we've played leading up to this point. It took a while for our leaders to settle the team down and get to doing what we do best...shocking people with just how well those Yankees can play the game. Personnel choices aside, we need to be amped for the match, but relaxed enough not to make mistakes early.
With the win by Slovenia, Friday's game becomes very, very important for our USA. We NEED the win to keep pressure on the Brits.
We didn't disappoint...
We did what we said we were going to do...
We went out, played hard, and got the result...
We need to bring it on Friday, boys...