Even though the Americans didn't win their opening match Saturday against England, they couldn't have asked for a better start. The 1-1 tie between the two sides was just as good as a win for the US, as they go into their second game with as many points as they finished with at the 2006 World Cup.
The start to the game wasn't a pretty one for the Yanks. In the fourth minute of the match, sloppy defending by the US allowed Steven Gerrard to make a run down the middle, and he easily beat American keeper Tim Howard with a shot to the right. The large, pro-USA crowd that showed up at Discovery Green for the Houston Dynamo's viewing party was in shock; not so much because of the goal but because of how early and easily the English were able to score.
In the 29th minute, a short cross by the English into the box saw Howard on the receiving end of England's Emile Heskey's foot. Howard laid on the ground for a couple of minutes in serious pain. Every replay shown from every angle looked worse and worse. Like the warrior that he is though, Howard rose up, brushed it off, and was back in the game.
Then in the 40th minute, magic happened -- if you're American.
Clint Dempsey struck a low shot straight to English keeper Robert Green, which he fumbled and watched skip pass him on route to goal. With that game-tying goal, Dempsey became only the second American to score in multiple World Cups -- he scored the only American goal in the 2006 World Cup.
"At the last second, it moved a little bit," Dempsey said in a post-game press conference. "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?'"
Discovery Green was rocking after that goal; chants of "USA, USA," were popping up every couple of minutes. There was even a greater sense of optimism; people were starting to believe that Americans could pull off the upset. Even though the neither team was able to score again, the draw was a good start for the US.
"We'll take more out of a draw than they will," Howard said. "They're going to feel like they should have won the game."
The Americans next take the pitch this Friday against Slovenia for a 9 a.m. kick-off. Slovenia currently sits atop the Group C table with three points, following their 1-0 defeat of Algeria. England and the US are tied with a point each, while Algeria has no points.
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