The United States have finally posted a draw against the Three Lions, and the performance behind it may finally see American soccer widely respected across England.
Again bitten by the odd glitch, the 'Nats tightened things up the rest of the way and clawed one back thanks to a major gaffe by the England netminder.
While Robert Green's mother was hastily busy canceling her UK newspaper subscriptions, the Americans had their foe looking visibly nervous—this time, they were in a toe-to-toe slugfest.
Apart from a few obvious sequences, the U.S. were always playing with their emotions under control, relaxed while playing at the speed of the game.
Good show, compatriots, you've earned some rest. After all, the Slovenians are coming.
A quick note for those unfamiliar with my marking; the average grade on the scale is “6” and all ratings are relative to the number of minutes played. Hence, a 15-minute “7” is not as impressive as one given for 90 minutes.
U.S. PLAYER RATINGS
Tim Howard (8) - First off, let's give him a bonus for withstanding Emile Heskey's stiff-leg, stud's up howdy-do to make a big play. Howard got revenge when the England lug shot straight at him. It wasn't the only time that happened on the night and that tells you the 'Nats keeper made himself big to shooters.
Steve Cherundolo (7) - It was a positioning master class by the veteran. There were a couple of hiccups in the second half, but he helped dull the edge of Ashley Cole and more.
Jay DeMerit (6) - The Wisconsin underdog had a shaky time of it in the first half. He perhaps should have been quicker to recognize the situation on England's goal and took a silly card. After intermission, he was very sharp, frustrating Wayne Rooney to no end.
Oguchi Onyewu (5) - Like his partner, Gooch fared better in the second half. But it took him longer to solidify and he had bigger errors to atone for - such as being lured out of place on the goal.
Carlos Bocanegra (6) - The skipper kept his shop steady, as always helping out with plays made in the middle. He was bested a couple times by Aaron Lennon, but considering the speed differential, that's not too shabby. Bocanegra also made a couple of important late cross clearances.
Michael Bradley (6.5) - There weren't any highlight reel plays, as the midfielder was content to keep it simple. It worked, as he stuffed rushes early and moved the ball around calmly.
Ricardo Clark (6.5) - The Eintracht Frankfurt man was every bit as culpable on the England goal as Onyewu. After that, Clark pitched in just about the best 86 minutes he's ever played in a U.S. shirt.
Landon Donovan (7) - There were dangerous restarts, pressure valve runs and plenty of build touches. There was no offensive end product, but it would be pretty difficult to poke holes in this performance. In fact, it was not unlike many of his Everton outings: solid to the core.
Clint Dempsey (7.5) - The Fulham man was everywhere. He made at least three fine defensive plays in or near his own box when tracking back to annoy Rooney. The goal was a real gift, but his effort warranted some glory.
Robbie Findley (5.5) - There were some nice freeing touches and turns from the Real Salt Lake forward, but he never could sink his teeth into the match.
Jozy Altidore (6.5) - Even before a stunning bull rush on Jamie Carragher that ended with a Green save off the post, Altidore was having a decent night. Some might say he should have done better on the early header, but I'd proffer that Ledley King was in his shirt pretty well. He came, he saw, he banged with the best.
Coach Bob Bradley (7.5) - I suppose I could scold the coach for yet another throw-in nap by his team, but Bradley is a bit vindicated tactically for the order following precision of his charges. And whatever one might think of the boss' game plan, he certainly had the boys out there to win it. It was a very composed outing and credit goes here.
Edson Buddle (5) - The Galaxy star couldn't quite find the game's orbit, showing some rough touches. But he came on late and it was his World Cup debut, so nerves aren’t that unexpected.
Stuart Holden (-) - Just a cameo, no grade.