USA vs. England World Cup: Three Shine As USA Fight Back To Earn Deserved Draw

Ieuan BeynonCorrespondent IIIJune 12, 2010

RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 12: Oguchi Onyewu of the United States clashes with Wayne Rooney of England during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group C match between England and USA at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on June 12, 2010 in Rustenburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Well the game we had all been waiting for is over. It may have not been the greatest footballing spectacle, but what it was, was a tense, nervy encounter in which England failed to live up their billing as potential contenders.

After taking the lead in the fourth minute through captain Steven Gerrard, the English from then on found it difficult to break down the resilient American back-line.

Then in the 39th minute, the US found a way back into the game, when a speculative Clint Dempsey shot, squirmed its way past the hapless Robert Green.

In an article hours before kick-off, I had speculated if the selection of Green would be the wrong choice, due to his lack of big game experience and his tendency to become nervous when under pressure - seems that my thoughts were not so premature.

From that point on, the game became a scrappy affair. With both sides failing to pick up the reins and push for a winner.

This will obviously be more damaging to the morale of Fabio Capello's men, as anything gained from this match would have been a bonus for Team USA.

All the Americans made a contribution, but three players stood out above the others.

These were the three who denied England and caused England the most trouble. All had genuine shouts of being man-of-the-match too.

Tim Howard

The big-stopper was officially named man-of-the-match by Fifa. He was injured early on in the game when bravely diving at the feet of Emile Heskey. He took a knock to the ribs for his troubles, but this was never going to stop the Everton man. In the second half he denied both Emile Heskey and Shaun Wright-Phillips with smart saves. His voice could be heard when he was directing orders at his back four through-out.

Oguchi Onyewu

Gooch, what can you say about this man. When puts on the national team jersey he is a different player. Despite being out for the majority of last season, and fighting to be fit in time for this World Cup opener, he was superb. Handling Wayne Rooney and the impressive Emile Heskey with little trouble. Nothing clever just old-fashioned defending. Hard to think he had only played 30 minutes football for Milan last season - A pure beast.

Jozy Altidore

He is simply the US' best striker. Coming into the match after passing a fitness test, he was brilliant. There was also talk that Coach Bob Bradley would pick the inferior Edson Buddle in his place, after his double against Australia. This never happened - or probably was never going to - and Altidore lead the line with pace, power and skill. Like Onyewu his best form seems to be with national team. Could have made it 2-1 in the second half, but Green redeemed himself made a smart save at his near post.

Also Ricardo Clark deserves an honorary mention, the big midfielder did not let his head drop after losing Gerrard for England's goal.

He proceeded to have a solid game in at the heart of the American midfield. He will be and all ready has been criticised for the performance, but people have to remember that he was up against two of the very best in Frank Lampard and Gerrard, it doesn't come much tougher than that.

The US must feel that now they can progress into the knockout stages.

An all important game against Slovenia is next, win that and they could well be on their way.