The World Cup Finals are finally underway, anticipation has been building for weeks, and now England's first game in South Africa has been played. During England's first training session in the host country, captain, Rio Ferdinand, injured his left knee, ruling him out of the tournament. The captain's armband was passed along to Steven Gerrard who at the start of the year was third-in-line to be skipper. There were surprises in Capello's starting eleven against the US. Matthew Upson was ruled out due to illness, James Milner had recovered from a sickness and found himself in England's midfield. Gareth Barry was ruled fit to play, but he had a place on the bench. With the number one goalkeeper position still up for grabs (unusual going into a competition such as this), Robert Green got the nod ahead of David James and Joe Hart.
The US shirt has been modelled on their 1950 strip when they last beat England in the World Cup Finals. However, England were the "home team" in this match, and the US had to settle for wearing their change shirt of blue.
England got off to a perfect start in the fourth minute in Rustenberg when Emile Heskey played the ball through to Steven Gerrard, who got in behind Clark to beat Tim Howard, giving England the lead.
In the 19th minute Jozy Altidore saw his shot go wide of Green's net. Then in the 27th minute the US again came close to scoring when a Donavan free-kick was met by Onewyu, who's header also went just wide of the goal.
With half an hour of play on the clock, England made their first subsitution, a surprisingly early one at that, when they replaced James Milner with Shaun Wright-Phillips. England conceeded a goal in the 40th minute which will unfortunately give Robert Green nightmares. Clint Dempsey did well to hold off Gerrard and managed to get a shot off from 25 yards, which Green should have saved easily to his right, but the ball bumbled into the net, giving Dempsey his 19th international goal (incidentally his first international goal was against England). Then a moment later Glen Johnson took a shot at the US goal but Howard made a good save.
Capello made a further subsitution at half-time when Jamie Carragher replaced Ledley King who has a groin injury. In the 52nd minute Heskey wasted a chance after a pass from Lennon saw him break through the US defence. The Aston Villa forward failed to capitalise on the opportunity as he hit the ball straight at Howard. It was a good save by the American. Tim Howard made another good save in the 63rd minute when Frank Lampard took a shot, but again the US 'keeper prevented England going ahead, when he tipped the ball over the bar.
In the 64th minute Donovan stole possession and Alitore made a fantastic run, getting the better of Carragher, and was able to get a shot off at England's goal. Robert Green made a great save, with the ball hitting the crossbar and going back into play. It could easily have been 2-1 to the US. Findley had a breakaway in the 73rd minute but Carragher was able to stop the American and avert danger.
The game finished in a draw. It was a disppointing performance by Capello's team who need to look more lively in the remainder of their WC Finals Group stage matches. The US will be happy to take a point from this game, and have shown once again they are improving as time goes on, and can hold their own with the so-called big boys. England now have a 6-day break, and play again on Friday against Algeria.
Green #12, Johnson #2, A Cole #3, Terry #6, King #20 (Carragher 46 mins - #18), Gerrard #4 - Captain, Lennon #7, Lampard #8, Milner #16 (Wright-Phillips 30 mins - #17), Rooney #10, Heskey #21 (Crouch 79 mins - #9).
Subs Not Used: James #1, Hart #23, Dawson #5, Warnock #13, Upson #15, J Cole #11, Barry #14, Carrick #22, Defoe #19. (Full Squad)
Howard #1, Bocanegra #3 - Captain, Onyewu #5, Cherundolo #6, DeMerit #15, Bradley #4, Dempsey #8, Clark #13, Donovan #10, Altidore #17 (Holden 86 mins - #11), Findley #20 (Buddle 77 mins - #14).
Subs Not Used: Guzan #18, Hahnemann #23, Spector #2, Bornstein #12, Goodson #21, Beasley #7, Torres #16, Edu #19, Feilhaber #22, Gomez #9.
England Goal: Gerrard (4 mins)
USA Goal: Dempsey (40 mins)
England Cautions: Milner (26 mins), Carragher (59 mins), Gerrard (61 mins)
USA Cautions: Cherundolo (39 mins), DeMerit (47 mins), Findley (74 mins)
Referee: Carlos Eugenio Simon (Brazil)