That headline may not be strictly accurate, but that’s how this result felt for both sides. The underdog U.S. gave up an early goal and seemed poised to get blown off the field, but then rallied (thank you, Robert Green) and held on for a hard-earned point.
England didn’t walk away empty-handed, of course, but their twin bugaboos of suspect goalkeeping and psychological frailty both contributed to the result—and imagine if Jozy Altidore had hit the net instead of the post after his brilliant run in the 67th minute. English self-loathing would have spiked to record levels. (See here as well.)
In any case, Slovenia and Algeria both looked eminently beatable, so if the U.S. and England can’t get the necessary points from them to advance, they don’t deserve to go through.
Here are a couple of interesting tidbits from some light trolling of the BBC, Guardian and Daily Mail comment boards:
BBC Radio 5 Live’s Chris Waddle [former England international and 1993 English Footballer of the Year], 36 minutes into the game:
“Give America credit. England just can’t get the ball. Lampard cannot get the ball out to the wingers. Maybe Capello has to say to the wide men they need to tuck in but it’s difficult because they still want the width.”
And there were more than a few like this one from Guardian Commenter ‘rufusgizmo’, after the game:
“I don’t know what result people were expecting, but a comfortable two or three goal victory was always unlikely this evening. There is a lot of nonsense talked about the U.S. team as if they are not a credible force in football. They have been for ages. If this result had been achieved against Sweden (who are not as good as the U.S. but have drawn against England in each of the last two WCs) there would not be anywhere so much fuss.”
The U.S. a credible force for “ages”? That may be stretching it, but yes, the Yanks are probably better than most international fans give them credit for.
Finally, just for the record, we predicted the 1-1 result, and the goal for Dempsey (though we didn’t picture it happening quite like it did).