RUSTENBURG, South Africa (AP) - The record will show it was a
tie, but it was hardly that.
One found renewed confidence; the other will feel the heat.
The United States and England played to a 1-1 draw Saturday
night in their World Cup opener, with the Americans rallying when
Clint Dempsey scored on a blunder by goalkeeper Robert Green and
U.S. goalie Tim Howard withstood a second-half barrage by Wayne
Rooney and his celebrated teammates.
Steven Gerrard put England ahead in the fourth minute, blowing
past Ricardo Clark to beat Howard from short range. But Dempsey
tied it when Green fumbled his 25-yard shot that skipped off the
"I'm glad it's over, there was a lot of hype and pressure,"
Howard said. "I'm glad we put in a performance we can be proud of.
But we can't make too, too much of it."
Jozy Altidore nearly put the U.S. ahead late, but Green got a
hand on his angled shot and it deflected off the corner of the
Howard, who needed treatment in the first half when Emile Heskey
slid into his chest, saved the Americans time and again in the
second half, frustrating the famous high-priced stars he faces each
week in the Premier League.
With each save late in the game, louder chants of "U-S-A!"
erupted from Sam's Army and American Outlaws, groups who made the
long and expensive trip from home to sit among the vuvuzela-blowing
fans on a cool night in the Southern Hemisphere.
"I think when you play at the highest level and against the
best competition, it will bring the best out of you," Howard said.
England must try to regroup as it seeks its first major title
since winning the World Cup at home in 1966. The U.S., trying to
rebound from first-round elimination four years ago, got a boost as
it heads into first-round games against Slovenia on Friday and
Algeria on June 23.
While not a shocking win to match the 1-0 American upset over
England at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, the U.S. earned a huge
single point in its quest to reach the second round for the first
time since 2002.
Both sides looked tentative and nervous in the opening minutes
until England broke on top.
Gerrard scored his 17th goal in 82 appearances, bursting past
Clark. Heskey had taken Glen Johnson's throw-in and sent a through
ball to Gerrard, who flicked it past Howard.
Dempsey scored on a play very similar to the goal by Croatia's
Niko Kranjcar that went in off Scott Carson's arm and helped
eliminate England from qualifying from the 2008 European
Dempsey took several touches, spun around Gerrard and hit a
dipping left-footed shot. The ball hit the field twice, glanced off
Green's right hand and went into the net for Dempsey's 19th goal in
63 national team games. Dempsey also scored against Ghana as the
U.S. was eliminated in 2006.
"It was a difficult game," Gerrard said. "I think the
important thing in the first game is not to lose. Unfortunately
we've let a poor goal in and we couldn't go on and get the winner.
"The goal shocked us a bit. ... It took us a while to get over