Twenty-one years ago the United States needed a late goal against Trinidad and Tobago to secure a spot at World Cup 1990 in Italy, today the United States withstood a punch in the mouth from one of world football’s heavyweights and stood up to it.
Following the worst possible start for the United States, going down 1-0 after just four minutes after England’s stand-in captain Steven Gerrard finished off a well worked move involving Emile Heskey you could’ve been forgive for thinking the underdog American team would’ve wilted under the bright lights and heavy pressure of the most hyped match in the history of US soccer, but you would have been wrong. While it may not have been pretty the United States put together a dogged, determined first half that with a bit of luck produced a Clint Dempsey equalizer in the 39th minute, sparking delirium from American fans both at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg and back at home watching on television, many of whom were watching their first soccer match.
The spirited display that the American team displayed, led by the rock solid goalkeeping of Tim Howard, the experienced, passionate fullback play of Hannover’s Steve Cherundolo won the hearts of many of those first timers, and may have even converted some cynics into believers.
While the feeling of euphoria is justified it’s important to remember that the World Cup has just started and we face at least two more stern tests that will require equally battling performances. While Algeria and Slovenia might not be the sexiest of opponents we must keep in mind that they qualified for the World Cup in similar circumstances to our draw against England. Both teams entered their matches as underdogs and never gave in despite pressure from Egypt and Russia respectively. If today is any indication I’m certain that Bob Bradley will have his charges well drilled for the challenges ahead.