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English Get Yanked into a Draw

  • George Pennington
  • Sun Jun 13 2010, 5:15pm GMT

Since the groups were drawn six months ago, a steadily growing buzz finally erupted into a roar with what may have been the most anticipated game in US Soccer history. Complete with jeers from both sides of the Atlantic, the world watched on Saturday as the USA faced off against England in the World Cup. This was their first meeting in a World Cup game since 1950, where the USA provided England with a 1-0 loss.

England, heavily favored in the FIFA rankings and in worldwide public opinion, saw it as a matter of national pride as they commonly take credit for the invention of the Beautiful Game. There was also a matter of revenge involved that has been 60 years in the making.

American soccer has never been quite like football in the rest of the world. While most countries revere the sport, Americans have typically placed their interest in baseball, basketball, and American football. Since that last meeting in 1950, however, US Soccer has grown by leaps and bounds. The American side now boasts homegrown players who are stars in the English Premier League and other respected leagues across Europe and around the world. In addition, the creation of Major League Soccer in the US has deepened the talent pool for the team, and also enticed some European players to come to the states.

The game itself played out like a rivalry in the Premier League. The English came out strong in the beginning and took the lead as captain Steven Gerrard scored early on. The Americans responded not by becoming flustered or hurried, but calmed down their play and developed world-class focus.

Thirty-six minutes after Gerrard’s convincing goal, the US fired back. Clint Dempsey sent a soft rolling shot toward the net. England goalkeeper Robert Green made a blunder that is rarely seen at this level of play; he let the easy save go right through his hands.

The underdog Americans would create several more scoring chances as would the mighty English, but neither would be able to convert. US keeper Tim Howard made seven saves on the day, making up for a lagging performance from captain Carlos Bocanegra.

The resulting 1-1 draw would have several effects. First, USA fans will be content with the draw while the English supporters will likely feel robbed of a sure victory. Second, Fabio Capello may rethink his goal keeping position, an issue that plagued him prior to the match.

Both England and the USA are favored to move past the group stage. The USA plays Slovenia on June 18 at 10:00am EST after which England will face Algeria at 2:30pm.

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