It's over -- and tied
Clint Dempsey was getting a huge ovation, just about ready to be substituted for Herculez Gomez, then the officials said no. No time. This match is over. Dempsey's shot late in the first half gave the US team a point and new hope. England, heavily favored, was hampered by an inept effort on Dempsey's shot by keeper Robert Green, who juggled the ball and watched it bounce off to his right into the net.
"It's a goal that the keeper probably should have made a save on,'' Dempsey admitted in a television interview after the match. But, he added, they don't count it as a save if it goes in.
A few quick thoughts from today's match:
1. Somebody give Tim Howard a medal
It looked like Howard was going to be out after a collision with Emile Heskey in the first half. He came back, and provided the solid net work that England could not do. A defensive misplay ahead of him set up the early first goal, but that was it, despite an intensive array of chances by or set up by Wayne Rooney in the second half.
2. Gooch is back
After serious injury, and after looking slow-motion in matches leading up to the World Cup (such as the effort vs. the Czech Republic in Hartford last month), defender Oguchi Onyewu is a strong leader of the US defense. He held his own against the much taller Peter Crouch, for example. That said, he'll have to stay more mobile than he did early in the first half on the Heskey-to-Gerrard score.
3. England has a big decision
Will Robert Green, the sole reason for a tie instead of win for England, remain the team's keeper, or will coach Fabio Capello replace him with David James? One fortunate thing for England: its next opponent is Algeria, the weakest team in the group.
4. Jay DeMerit did his job.
Wisconsinite DeMerit, 31, a onetime walk-on for an obscure English team, marked the heralded Wayne Rooney so well that the Manchester United star didn't even get the ball in the first 17 minutes. Maybe the US defense is stepping up.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments section. Below is the play-by-play of match highlights:
Donovan shot just high, 89th minute
Long fire from Donovan just above the bar. Later Holden cross off Ashley Cole's ankle, Donovan with the corner kick. US keeping the ball on its side as regulation ends. Four minutes of stoppage time.
Altidore out, Holden in, 87th minute
Stuart Holden replaces Altidore, who convincingly showed he could play full-throttle so soon after an ankle injury. Key matchup for last few minutes might be Crouch and Onyewu: one taller, one stronger. Onyewu actually took a 50/50 from his much taller English rival.
Donovan, Dempsey look tired -- 83rd minute
Dempsey on the ground after wrecked on defense. Both he and Donovan appear exhausted. Last drive had four England defenders against two Americans, and Onyewu was lucky to enough of the ball that the English shot was an easy roller for Howard. It does look like England has a lot left.
It's Crouch for Heskey, 80th minute
Peter Crouch, the NBA-sized Tottenham attacker, in for Heskey. That's England's final substitution. More pressure -- and vulnerability -- for US back line to headers, set pieces. Rooney to Crouch on a cross within the first minute, Crouch tries a header -- not a good one, but he's there.
Findley yellow-carded, 74th minute
Rooney nearly scored, just wide to Howard's left, after Robbie Findley was yellow-carded for a challenge to Gerrard. A minute later, Wright-Phillips should have scored, one-on-one with Wright-Phillips after a Rooney pass. Howard made an awesome stop, had to do the same a minute later on a cross shot right in front of the goal from Rooney. It's clear the English have an excellent chance to score if they keep the pressure on to the right of Howard...Coach Bob Bradley makes first US substitution, bringing in Edson Buddle for Findlay.
Cherundelo over Rooney, 72nd minute
US looks very weak when stretched, particularly to the right of Howard. Rooney was just stopped by Cherundelo on one drive, then Rooney, open, missed a header. Warning shots, though. Cautious to say who has advantage with less than 20 minutes left.
Altidore, off to the races -- 66th minute
It is a serious mismatch between Altidore and the already-carded Carragher. Altidore broke away from his defender easily and ended up one-on-one with Rob Green, who stopped his shot, barely (the post did half the work). What's England coach Capello to do? He's already subbed in Carragher for King, who also was having trouble with speedsters Altidore and Findlay.
Gerrard yelllow-carded -- 61st minute
Gerrard goes spikes up into the left thigh of Dempsey on a dangerous challenge, for which he was rightly booked. Donovan's free kick reaches Bocanegra but is wide that Rob Green doesn't sweat it. Terrific hands up by Howard a minute later, deflecting a Frank Lampard rocket above the goal. Still England 1, USA 1
How will Robert Green do now? -- 60th minute
Visibly shaken at half, we'll have to see how the West Ham keeper performs now. Bocanegra has a throw in near the corner, but the US did not pose a serious challenge. Jamie Carragher, subbed in for King to handle Altidore and Findlay, has been yellow-carded for a rough challenge.
Wow, Timmy! 51st minute
Let's get this straight. Emile Heskey should have scored. Racing past Onyewu, who misplayed a challenge, the British striker had only green between him and Tim Howard. A point-blank shot with all he had, and Heskey, already with an assist this match, could only watch as Howard grabbed it.
Play resumes, DeMerit yellow-carded, 49th minute
Scariest moment in the young second half for US fans: a swift Aaron Lennon beat US defender Carlos Bocanegra so badly that he got off a clean cross just in front of Tim Howard that the US was fortunate no English attacker got to.
A minute earlier, another shaky sign for US defense: a yellow card to Jay DeMerit. That makes two for US defenders, with Cherundelo's just before half.
45 more minutes of action
After battling a deficit for more of the half, the United States came back to equalize just before the half, on a so-so kick by Clint Dempsey that English goalkeeper Robert Green just couldn't hold onto. A lucky break? Perhaps. But the United States played strong after permitting that very early goal by England's Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool star really paced the English squad, roaming the entire field, it seemed, to thwart US thrusts. US keeper Tim Howard raised fears when he went down after a collision, but stayed in the match. I'm looking forward to a very, very intense second half.
Dempsey's left-footer made him only the second American to score in two World Cups. (Brian McBride was the first).
Equalized, England 1, USA 1 (41st minute)
It was a soft goal, a gimme goal almost. Robert Green, on the wet pitch, couldn't hold onto Clint Dempsey's weak shot on goal, and the ball bounced to his right and into the net. Dempsey, the former New England Revolution star who now plays for Fulham, raised his eyes and gave a kiss to the heavens, a gesture he always makes post-goal in memory of his older sister, who died at age 16.
Yellow card, Cherundelo, 39th minute
US gets its first yellow card, Steve Cherundelo, for bringing down Shaun Wright-Phillips. A minute earlier Wright-Phillips, with time, loosed a laser, just wide.
English stalwarts, muzzled -- 36th minute
So far, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard have not been factors.
Howard hurt? -- 31st minute
US keeper Tim Howard appeared hurt in a collision in front of the goal; he stays in the game ... While play was stopped, Milner was replaced by the speedy and clever Shaun Wright-Phillips, who is to English soccer what Nate Robinson is to the Boston Celtics.
Yellow card Milner
England's James Milner gets the match's first yellow card after a rough tackle of Steve Cherundolo, who has been bedeviling Milner. Donovan free kick headed out left by Oguchi Oneywu.
After a very long possession, Altidore passes
Dangerous Donovan, 19th minute
Landon Donovan launched a heartstopping cross that Altidore missed for a header by inches, The cross landed just wide left. The most serious US challenge yet. (At that moment, England coach Fabio Capello looked as if he'd touched a live light socket).
A busy captain, 18th minute
Gerrard is all over the field, seriously tackling Dempsey one moment, stopping Robbie Findley on the other side of the field in another. Still England 1, US 0
Corner challenges, 14th minute
The US gets three corner kicks in a row -- and squanders the opportunities.
Five minutes in and there's already a score. Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard's left-footer sneaks past Tim Howard and England has a lead. US is 0-15-3 in Cup play if it doesn't score first.
The pass to Gerrard came from Emile Heskey, who moved back to capture a short pass to him. Gerrard slid on his knees on the pitch in triumph. Howard, who plays for Everton in the English Premier League, shouted at his defensive line in anger.
We're ready for live-blogging today's long-anticipated match between England and those colonist upstarts.
A full 188 days since the draw, the match will begin, with Jozy Altidore starting for the U.S. and oddsmakers favoring the English.
Maybe the best thing about this match is that the hype will be over in two-plus hours, regardless. Enough about that incredible 1950 US upset, the natural superiority of one side or the other.
The match follows Argentina's 1-0 victory over a very tough Nigerian squad and South Korea 2-0 triumph over Greece.
We'll be back with more. Please comment throughout.
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