What a game! Wayne Rooney did not play the typical striker role, and England Keeper, Green, made a schoolboy goalie mistake, giving Team USA the point to tie the game. It was a great game, defensively, where I saw my man, John Terry do his job admirably. OK England had more shots on goal, but we had to work really hard for each of ours.
With Beckham out with his ruptured achilles tendon, and Ferdinand out, injured, it was a very different England team that took to the pitch. Steven Gerrard scored the first goal of the game right out of the bucket. I screamed at the TV. I railed against the fates and Pat Onstad for putting Tim Hamilton as our Keeper. England came into the Cup not even knowing whom their main Keeper would be, and I'm sure with Green's major screw up with an easy shot, they figured they'd been screwed.
I will be the first to admit that there are few coaching and lineup choices that leave me scratching my head wondering if the few stupid choices made 4 years ago have grown to some sort of epidemic in South Africa. First with Holland's coaches ill advised decision to pull Ruud van Nistlerooy in their last game to put in an unproved player, and then losing spectacularly, starts the Dumb Coaching Choices. The new Holland coach doesn't appear to be any brighter then the bulb in my reading light. He nixed van Nistlerooy outright. Then when he discovered how poorly they were doing in mere friendlies, he sent Robben and van Parsie with peace offerings, only to piss him off at the first practice. Van Nistlerooy is living large in Germany and loving it. I think it's Germany or maybe it's France... I've lost touch with him since he retired from International play.
Then you have to get into the whole "WTF Are They Putting In The Water In Brazil?" thing. Ronaldo and Ronaldinho are both absent. The coach is apparently trying to get away from their old hardline style of play, but to leave your bet players at home? That's universally stupid. Benching van Nistlerooy is just world class stupid. Leaving most of your lineup home so you can play touchy-feely football makes even Vogons laugh at your stupidity. We shall see if his bold move plays out. I'm of the opinion that it will not. Brazil has dominated international play for decades. They have always been considered the team to beat, even when they weren't in the finals. If they don't do it with this team, they will slowly fade into obscurity.
I watched today and saw a few faces from 2006, and I missed McBride, Onstad and Beckham (he was there but on the bench). Brian McBride and Pat Onstad were old hands for Team USA and brilliant players. They were sorely missed, especially with Tim Hamilton's screw up in the opening minutes of the game. Landon Donovan played with his usual perspicacity and speed. Dempsey saved the day with his goal, but Donovan was always in the thick of it right along with Rooney. With Beckham out, no cut away shots to his wife Victoria, and since Donovan divorced Bianca Kajlich, she wasn't in the crowd chewing her nails.
All in all it was a wonderful game. Some new faces, some familiar (as far as World Cup play goes) and an exciting game none-the-less. A stellar day for football. A wonderful day for the prime example of free market sports at play.
You just knew I was going to have to put an Objectivist hook in it, didn't you?