So honours even then and cue the inevitable backlash here in the UK this morning.
Understandably, the focus has fallen heavily on Robert Green following his howler. My thoughts are that David James would have been the man to get the nod, but if there were concerns over fitness (or form) then Joe Hart should have got the call. Hart – although less experienced – is a better goalkeeper than Green, and although easy to state with the benefit of hindsight Green is also more prone to error than Hart (or even James).
Did Bob Bradley out coach Fabio Capello? That is the suggestion I read on one site today but that would be a little too generous. Yes, Bradley had the USA superbly organised and playing to a game plan but that was to be expected and it was more a case of Capello getting it wrong in a couple of areas.
England were the more dominant side, but this does not mean they were the better side. They didn’t play badly and certainly improved from their performances of late though. They played well enough to win but gifted the USA goal out of nothing when in control of the game. It would have been interesting to see how the USA would have fared as the game wore on having to chase to get back into the game. At that point I would have fancied England to close out the game comfortably.
As well as the whole unit played in defending the point, and I thought Onyewu in particular was superb given his lack of action this season, the USA will need to offer more in attack if they are (as they should do) to progress through the group. Once Ledley King went off injured, the central pairing off John Terry and Jamie Carragher could have been worked harder.
It was an interesting battle between Landon Donavan and Ashley Cole. Donavan did not get much joy out of Cole which restricted his effectiveness, but in the process this limited Cole’s ability to make the forward runs which can be so dangerous. Emile Heskey was excellent in terms of his work rate and ability to pull defenders out of position and work the back line, but in doing so did this restrict the space available to Wayne Rooney? Rooney was very quiet for the majority of the game and it is no secret that Rooney is more effective as the front man. Perhaps Capello needs to look at this and maybe include Steven Gerrard in a more advanced position alongside him.
England are notoriously slow starters at tournaments – winning only five out of fourteen opening games – but both sides will have enough to go through to the last sixteen stage by recording victories in their remaining two games. I still tip England to top the group on goal differential as although the USA are better at the back (the lapse for Gerrard’s goal aside), England are more potent and capable of netting a greater number of goals.