On a very pleasent afternoon, my friends and I left Jo’burg headed to Rustenburg, where the USA was facing England. The drive took about two hours. We left at noon (South African time) to have pleny of time before the match began. We did have to make at least 5 or 6 U-turns since we don’t know the area, and you have to drive on the right side of the road in South Africa. On the way to Rustenburg, we stopped and ate at an Irish pub, thinking it would be wise knowing that if we ran into any rowdy England fans, the Irish would have our backs, considering the Irish are not very fond of the English. We did run into a couple English fans at the pub, but they were very cool. They were wearing England, Manchester United, and Chelsea jerseys. Many of the English fans also had flags on their backs.
We arrived to the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg between 2 and 3 in the afternoon. The game didn’t start until 8:30 pm. The celebrations were already taking place; I would say there were 65 percent English fans to 35 percent American fans. Everybody was blowing their Vuvuzuelas, drinking, dancing, and singing chants. It was a very healthy rivalry in Rustenburg.
We entered the stadium at 8 p.m. to watch the teams do their pre-match warm-ups. The Royal Bafokeng Stadium was covered with England flags, but both the US and England fans were equally as loud.England looked very determined in the first minutes of the match, which allowed them to score first after a great assist by Heskey and very precise Gerrard finish. Afte being down a goal, USA got stronger and started pressuring more in all their lines. especially in the backline. The US responded with a header by Altidore that went wide after a great cross by Donovan. Lennon and Rooney gave the US defense a lot of trouble. Lennon had some great runs and very dangerous crosses to Howards’ Box, but Bocanegra and Oguchi would be there to deflect them out of trouble for the US. Donovan, Findley and Dempsey started getting more involved, and the US started creating goal situations. Gerrard and Lampard from England did an outstanding job closing down the US attacks. But toward the end of the first half on a play that didn’t look like it would have any danger for England, Dempsey controlled the ball outside the English box and set himself up for a shot with his left foot. Dempsey unleashed the shot that didn’t have much power, but it was low and you never know what kind of bounce the new Adidas Jabulani is going to take. Green, the goal keeper for England seemed very confident, and it looked like it would be a very easy save. After the ball hit Green’s gloves, it made a very strange bounce and rolled into the net very slowly. The American fans were louder than the English for the first time in the match for a few minutes chanting USA! USA! USA!
England had most of the control in the second half of the match. Lennon again made great runs, Rooney was creating plays and taking shots on Howard, and Heskey had the most clear goal opportunity for England when he had a one-on-one against Howard, but his shot was caught by the American goalkeeper. USA also had a chance to get the win when Jozy Altidore powered himself through the English defense and only had Green to beat, but Altidore opted to go near-post with his shot, were Green was positioned. It was a great save by the English goalkeeper that got help from the post to maintain a 1-1 score. In the last minutes of the game, it seemed that both the English and Americans were more concerned not to lose the game;rather than go for the win.
The game ended with a very exciting 1-1 tie, and the USA continue to have a better record against England in World Cup play.
Let’s hope USA has a better record then England in the group stage and qualifies first in Group C. If the USA doesn’t qualify first, it might have to play Germany in the next round, which it would be another hard match-up for the USA
*EDITOR NOTE: Jhonathan Montenegro is a glenndavissoccer.com roving reporter who is having the time of his life in South Africa.
*Dynamo All Access with Glenn Davis tonight on Sports Talk 790 radio at 7pm as we talk the World Cup.
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