But Lord oh Lord, the American defense is, well, to borrow an English coloquiolism, shambolic. As my Portuguese father put it, "meteram agua" which roughly translates to "they leaked" a lot. Ricardo Clark was so Lost, I thought I was gonna see John Locke's smoky ass creep out of the South African night and take him away. There was nothing Evangeline Lilly-pretty about the back four. Steve Cherundulo played well for sure, and Oguchi Onyewu had some moments to be proud of (though he was often scrambling to recover for being woefully out of position, and still did not challenge well in the air). Jay DeMerit and Carlos Bocanegra, for all the touting about their first-division European experience, they could have passed for MLS rejects all day long.
Steven Gerrard proved he is a world-class midfield. His composure and confidence are two traits the U.S. team as a whole needs to stock up on. And, oh yeah, he scored England's goal with an instinctual play off a throw-in he delivered. He flew through the U.S. back line, losing Clark along the way, and collecting a cheeky pass from Heskey which he finished with a one-time flick. Gerrard was a methodical monster all over the pitch today, defending well, sending dangerous crosses all night long at Emile Heskey and Wayne Rooney and Peter Crouch. One has to wonder how well Rooney is physically. He was invisible for much of the match, though in the final 20, the few times the ball found him, he managed to challenge Tim Howard with it.
And oh yes, the keepers.
Shall we start with Howard since we've already mentioned him. A close second to Gerrard for man of the match. Check that, he was man of the match. Clutch save after clutch save made Howard an early star of this tournament. He had to feel like a man on an island with the way his fullbacks were playing in front of him. His constant shouts of positioning calls and encouragement made him a giant among many small players today. Howard may be the man who carries this U.S. team, one that had very little inkling what it wanted to do with the ball on offense. Michael Bradley was a disaster; he couldn't do anything right. How about that giveaway in the first half that almost sent Gerrard home alone against Howard?
Landon Donovan was another bright spot, but still not active enough for my liking. Every time he touched the ball, he did something positive; maybe he just didn't touch the ball enough?
Clint Dempsey, the U.S. goalscorer, was the most fortunate man on the continent. After a clinical series of fakes and dribbles, he found enough space to deliver a low shot with some pace, but not enough that it should have bothered England keeper Robert Green. But ol' Stone Hands somehow managed to redirect what should have been an easy save over the goal line. English hearts were breakin all over the world. Young English lads would do well to Google the name "Bill Buckner" to console themselves. At least it's only been 44 years for England since their last title.
I'll be watching Slovenia-Algeria pretty closely tomorrow because honestly, don't know much about either one. And chances are, one of them will be leading this group after tomorrow, putting both the U.S. and England in the position of HAVING to win both their remaining games to assure passage to the second round. If either finds some courage against the U.S., for example, we'll quickly forget whatever moral victory we think we have after a 1-1 draw against England.
I posted on Twitter earlier today something to the effect of Come On U.S., time to be one of the big boys. F-ing act like one and win this game. I'm not ready to say it's more of the same for the U.S., but they're still not acting like one of the big boys.