USA Ties England In World Cup Nail-Biter
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 American Clint Dempsey scoring on a blunder by goalkeeper Robert Green and U.S. goalie Tim Howard withstanding 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. Dempsey tied it when Green fumbled his 25-yard shot that skipped off the ground twice.
"I'm sure they were excited in bars back home. I can only imagine it was pretty intense," Howard said. "We're a resilient side, you know. We're a tough side and on our day we can put a good performance in."
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 goal.
"A little unlucky," the 20-year-old said after his World Cup debut.
Howard hurt his ribs when Emile Heskey's foot slid into his chest in the 29th minute. He had an painkiller injection at halftime and 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. The crowd of 38,646 included Vice President Joe Biden, who visited the U.S. locker room before kickoff.
"I think a lot of us came off the field satisfied with this result, but maybe a little disappointed we didn't get more out of the game," U.S. star Landon Donovan 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 started out tentative and nervous in this highly touted match, 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.
"The funny thing is, we talk about, you know, don't concede early," U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra said. "And man, it's been our trademark lately, conceding early."
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 Championship.
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.
"At the last second, it moved a little bit," Dempsey said. "These balls move so much, you just hit them on goal, you have a chance. It's one of those goals you always say, `Why can't I get one like that?"
Green's blunder was the latest in a long line of mistakes by English keepers.
"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."
But Dempsey tied the score when his 25-yard shot skipped off the grass twice and bounced in off Green's hand, yet another in a long line of shocking gaffes by England goalkeepers. It made Dempsey only the second American to score in two World Cups, joining Brian McBride.