Team USA came away with a highly credible 1-1 draw, despite Robert Green's huge howler after he allowed Clint Dempsey's tame shot to creep into the goal. The U.S. forced much of the game against an abysmally inept England who played about as bad as they possibly could.
Clint Dempsey's equalizer cancelled out Steven Gerrard's early strike as Team USA were every bit England's equals during the game.
Huge question marks now stand against Fabio Capello who seems to be making the same mistakes Sven Goran Erikkson made in 2006, and one must wonder at his strange selection and long ball tactics.
For his part, Bob Bradley deserves great credit. After going 1-0 down his team showed great courage to come back into the game and were every bit the equal of their illustrious opponents.
The opening couple of minutes were very reminiscent of an English Premier League match as neither side dwelt on the ball for any longer than a couple of seconds. Before the match the USA's defence and league were compared unfavourably with their opponents and after just four minutes the differences were apparent.
A simple throw in on the right from Glen Johnson was picked up by Frank Lampard, he was over lapped by Steven Gerrard as Clarke was left in his wake, Lampard's pass found Heskey who laid it into the Liverpool man's path and England were 1-0 up.
A disastrously simple and avoidable goal for the US to give away.
Both sides then pressed forward without any real conviction and forced a couple of tit for that corners as the game began to settle into a pattern. Neither team seemed capable of stringing a couple of passes together never mind a training ground move, and Team USA's lack of any real quality suited England down to the ground.
For Team USA to break their duck it would either have to come from the creative boot of Landon Donovan, through the fierce pace of Real Salt Lake's Robbie Findley, or from a stroke of luck...
The ex-Everton man was being employed on the right side of midfield to curb Ashley Cole's penetrating runs and provided a couple of good crosses for Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore that both players really should have done better with.
England continued to allow the United States room in midfield, even though they were reduced to taking pot shots from 30 yards and living off the scraps from Tim Howard's goal-kicks.
It was from one of these pot-shots that Team USA drew level. Clint Dempsey picked up the ball following a flick from Michael Bradley. He ran at the heart of the England defense who backed off, leaving Steven Gerrard to deal with his man. Dempsey turned the goal-scorer inside out before tamely shooting at Robert Green.
The England stopper then made one of the great World Cup howlers by allowing the ball to squirm past him into the net. Team USA benefiting from England's reluctance to push home the advantage after going 1-0 up.
Playing Emile Heskey up front reduced England to a long ball team and their lack of ambition and creativity was incredibly disappointing to see. Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were anonymous and looked as if they were playing with the fear of a relegation threatened outfit.
By contrast, the inferior United States were by far the better side. They were showing great courage and forcing the tempo of the game and it was now up to Fabio Capello to make changes to interrupt the pattern of the game.
A recurrence of Ledley King's knee injury combined with James Milner's stomach upset meant that the Three Lions had used two substitutions before the second half and it would make for a very interesting final period.
Every major decision made by Capello had so far back fired on the Italian. Robert Green...Ledley King's knee's....Gerrard and Lampard...James Milner's diarrhoea...
Aaron Lennon enjoyed a good start to the half, firstly he tore past Cherundolo like he wasn't there and put in a lovely ball that neither Rooney nor Heskey had read. Minutes later his weighted pass cut Team USA's defence in two as Heskey raced in only the 'keeper to beat, his dreadful finish letting Howard away with a simple save.
Frank Lampard then forced Howard into another save after he turned Michael Bradley on the edge of the box, Glen Johnson firing wide from the resulting corner. From the restart Robert Green started to make some amends as he tipped Jozy Altidore's fierce angled drive onto the post after the ex-Hull man had bulled his way into the box past Jamie Carragher.
England were reduced to ten men for a brief while after Glen Johnson left the pitch to receive treatment for a mouth wound, but you would have never guessed as it made no real difference to the flow of the game.
Shaun Wright-Phillips continued to play as a complete passenger, and one would have to wonder at the logic of that particular move.
The game remained tight, exactly what Bob Bradley wanted. On 70 Wayne Rooney had his first real attempt on goal but Steven Gerrard's whipped cross was just inches too high for the striker.
It was Gerrard's first real pass of the game as Michael Bradley and Ricardo Clark shut England's supply lines off. As the game wore on England began to eke out more chances, Rooney the provider for Wright-Phillips but his tame shot was pushed wide by Howard when he should have really done better.
Gerrard's influence on the game was growing, his powerful run down the right past the ineffective Cherundolo found Heskey in the six yard box but his header ballooned over the bar. With England finally applying the kind of pressure that was expected of them it was only a matter of time before Peter Crouch was introduced, Emile Heskey making way for the final 12 minutes of the game.
Edson Buddle was introduced for Team USA as Robbie Findley's legs finally gave up, and it meant that England had to be incredibly wary for the last 10 minutes as possibly the slowest central partnership in international football were on the pitch, Jamie Carragher and John Terry.
With the game stretching as it was, all the United States needed to do was find one quality ball to expose either Terry or Carragher and the game was theirs.
England broke with menace as Frank Lampard led the assault, his through ball fed Lennon, who in turn drove in at the near post, only for Onyewu to somehow dispossess the Chelsea midfielder with some superb defending.
As the game moved into injury time Team USA won their first corner of the second half, the poor quality of the cross pretty much summed up their play in the second half, a lack of the same belief and courage that carried them through the first 45 minutes.
In the end it was a pretty poor match, a 1-1 victory for the United States over a distinctly inept England.
- 12 Green (3) Disastrous goal to give away.
- 02 G Johnson (5) Did nothing all night.
- 03 A Cole (5) Never got forward once.
- 06 Terry (4) Ordinary.
- 20 King (4) Ordinary. (Carragher (YC)) (4) Poor.
- 04 Gerrard (C) (5) Never got going.
- 07 Lennon (6) Broke forward a couple of times, England's only threat.
- 08 Lampard (2) Was he playing?
- 16 Milner (1)... (Wright-Phillips, 30) (0) What was Capello thinking?
- 10 Rooney (4) Frustrating
- 21 Heskey (2) Brutal (Crouch) (6) Did more than Heskey in 12 minutes.
- 01 Howard (7) Couldn't be faulted for the goal, brave.
- 03 Bocanegra (C) (6) Battled hard.
- 05 Onyewu (7) USA's best defender.
- 06 Cherundolo YC (4) Poor game.
- 15 DeMerit (6) Did enough, made a nuisance of himself.
- 04 Bradley (8) Superb in midfield, did everything.
- 08 Dempsey (6) Worked himself into the ground.
- 13 Clark (7) Aided Bradley brilliantly.
- 10 Donovan (7) USA's most creative player
- 17 Altidore (6) A real handful.
- 20 Robbie Findley (6) Pace caused huge problems.
This article was first published on Tiger Beer Football where Willie Gannon is the featured blogger.