A spirited draw by a resilient USMNT sees Bob Bradley’s men stand up in the face of technically superior opposition and show the world and USA fans that they truly have earned their place in this summer’s World Cup and that they can contend with the best of them. A dominating performance from perma-crocked center-half Oguchi Onyewu saw the USMNT hold firm at the back, and a magical display by Michael Bradley in the midfield made sure USA were able to shut out the creative threat posed by both Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, who on another day, without the midfield being so resolute in defense, may have absolutely taken control of the game.
England will be disappointed to come away from the game with just a point, when all three were foreseeably theirs, had it not been for a calamitous error by goalkeeper Robert Green, who went on to save England’s game by making a fantastic reflex save after a shot by Jozy Altidore.
But how the result reflects on both camps, both confidence-wise and what it means to each team in terms of progressing in the tournament, is what will matter most.
The USMNT squad will be buoyed after a positive performance against European heavyweights like England. Being able to hold some of the most talented attacking players in the game, with the likes of Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard amongst others, is an achievement they can be proud of. Showing the World, and just as importantly America itself, that this team can compete with the best teams in the World, will reflect very well in North America and most likely create a much larger fanbase and following.
Next, the USMNT will have to handle both Algeria and Slovenia. On paper, much easier than playing against England, but if the players let themselves get too confident it could be the end of them. This point goes a long way, though, because winning their remaining two group games could see the USMNT finish top of the group and have a much better chance of reaching the quarter-finals.
England, most likely, will be deflated after tonight’s result. Top players like Wayne Rooney and Aaron Lennon were unable to make an impact on the game, and we all know from years of watching the Premier League that a frustrated Wayne Rooney is not a very useful one. Praise must go to Oguchi Onyewu, who previous to tonight’s match had only one competitive game under his belt since almost last year. ‘Gooch,’ as he is affectionately known by USMNT fans, marshalled his defense very smartly and always looked composed at the back.
While the draw is not England’s preferred result as the three points was there for the taking, they will know that winning their last two games and a superior goal difference will see them finish top of their group.
Congratulations must go to USA and coach Bob Bradley who was tactically spot on with his decision to start Onyewu in defense and a partnership of Clark and Bradley in the middle. Come on you Yanks!