2:16 PM (Eastern Time) - I'm back from spending the morning watching the preliminary matches elsewhere - KOR/GRE at the gym and ARG/NGR outdoors with a surprisingly large crowd in Dupont Circle in downtown DC. Watching the studio show on ESPN and it isn't bad - Alexi Lalas is just a natural in front of the camera despite his shameless homer pick of the US. Ruud Gullit also apparently knows where his bread is buttered and picks a draw. Macca seems to know that he has to go home to England and predicts a 3-1 win for the Three Lions.
2:20 - Starting line-up analysis: About what we all expected for the US. Would have liked to see Torres over Clark but Bradley has been leaning this way throughout qualifying and the warm-up matches. The England line-up is very odd, especially in midfield with three players - Milner, Lampard, and Gerrard - who are at their best attacking through the middle and two - Milner and Lennon who do or have played on the right. They are the best 4 midfielders that England have but not sure they work well together. I guess we'll see.
2:25 - Based on club performance, I'm not sure why Capello wouldn't have gone with Hart over Green. Seems that national team managers get too risk-averse when it comes to playing younger players. An entire season playing against the likes of ManYoo, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Chelsea is enough seasoning to face off against the US.
2:29 - Captains shake hands
2:30 - And we're off...
2:32 - And who do England's starters play their club ball for? West Ham, Liv, Che, Spurs, Che, Villa, Spurs, Che, Liv, ManYoo, and Villa. That's nearly half the squad from non-top four teams.
2:35 - well, that didn't last too long - Gerrard from a nice Heskey pass. Just poor organization at the back.
2:38 - As the US tries to recover they're playing down the right but they aren't very well spaced and they're making it easy for England to defend; Shades of that miserable day against the Czech Republic in 2006 - at least it isn't scorching hot out this time around.
2:41 - Dempsey gets a header on Green but not too much in it;
2:42 - Findley turns Terry and uses his speed nicely - don't know if this will yield a goal eventually but Findley's speed will cost Terry a YC at some point in the match if not more.
2:43 - US getting a few corners consecutively - almost a nice play from the 2nd short corner. Apparently it was a surprise to the rest of the US attack as well.
2:45 - US with the majority of the possession since the opening goal - not too much danger for England but has to concern them that the US is having this much of the ball. Of course, it would concern them more if they hadn't scored already.
2:49 - How did Altidore not get that Donovan cross on net? Big chance missed.
2:56 - Milner just not doing very well on the left of midfield; Cherundolo is eating him up and he's not that good an attacking player; YC to Milner; Donovan with a free kick in a good spot from the left;
2:57 - Nice service from Donovan and Gooch gets a head on it but not enough;
2:59 - Howard looks like he might be injured by Heskey's studs coming straight into his chest. It ain't easy to be a keeper...
3:00 - While Howard is being checked out they show a replay of a pretty crazy shirt pull by DeMerit on Terry;
3:01 - SWP for Milner who has a YC and is coming off illness - still checking out Howard but they seem to think he'll be OK and stay in; Howard is going to soldier on;
3:02 - They just said Lampard's name - forgot he was playing really; Donovan and Dempsey have switched sides of the field - they do this from time-to-time and I've seen it work before but we shall see;
3:04 - DeMerit shoulders Rooney off the ball - nice bit of defending there;
3:09 - Donovan with a speculative shot that has Green scared;
3:09 - Cherundolo picks up a YC - his job is a lot tougher with more speed to contend with in SWP;
3:11 - Dempsey with another speculative shot and he proves the rule that you don't score unless you shoot; 1-1!!! Did I mention that England should have gone with Hart?
3:12 - Howard with a very nice save as Glen Johnson comes right back and tries to get England's lead back;
3:16 - Heskey with what looks like a bit of a dive try off of a corner;
3:19 - Halftime and the US has to be happy with where things stand - they're even and have had the better of the play since the opening goal from England;
3:25 - Alexi and Gullit in the studio seem to have missed the point of the first half by saying that the US didn't deserve to be even - they may not have had Argentina vs. Nigeria-class missed opportunities but they had more of the ball than England and their attack yielded some decent opportunities. The match was surprisingly even and the US got a little bit of luck. With England really not clicking when they have the ball someone is going to have to do something exceptional if they're going to win.
3:30 - This is why I don't like studio shows - they have former athletes doing commentary. Being in a garage doesn't make you a car - being a former athlete doesn't make you a qualified analyst even if you're as charismatic as Lalas.
3:31 - For those who remember 2002, I'm not quite USA vs. Portugal excited right now but if the 2nd half starts off well, it will certainly get that way pretty fast.
3:35 - Carra on for Ledley King in the center of the D for England. Capello's decision-making isn't looking too good so far. Milner pulled off after 20-some minutes; Green with a soft goal conceded; and King off now; What does that leave him if he needs to make tactical substitutions late?
3:36 - YC for DeMerit - not good for the US;
3:37 - Nice run to the touchline from Lennon but no one to get on the other end of his cross; England starting a little more brightly than they ended the half;
3:40 - Great save from Howard - no rebound - Heskey should have passed to Rooney;
3:43 - Nice defending by Cherundolo on SWP - stopped him in his tracks; Donovan serves in a pretty solid cross from a free kick. Definitely an under-rated part of Donovan's game. His set piece work for Everton and the US has been very good in 2010;
3:45 - Game in a little bit of a lull after England's initial burst after the half;
3:46 - Carra is going to have problems with Altidore at some point in the second half - England's center backs are S...L...O...W...
3:48 - There's the YC for Carra; Not good news for England...I could see him going off later in the match with another YC;
3:49 - Gerrard YC for a poor challenge on Dempsey - Donovan to serve the ball in from the keeper's left...
3:50 - Bocanegra gets his head on it but can't control it and it goes well wide; US seems to have weathered the initial storm and just as I type that, England in the form of Johnson puts a solid cross into the box but Gooch clears;
3:52 - Gerrard with a long range shot from his left foot and he forces T-Ho to parry and he wins a corner;
3:52 - GJohn takes down the corner but fires wide - should have done better as they say;
3:53 - Altidore goes around Carra like he wasn't there and hits the bar - should have scored; Crazy action now - game living up to the hype;
3:54 - Blood on Glen Johnson and he must leave the field until he's cleaned up; Lennon shows why he isn't a star as he crosses WAY too long for anyone;
3:56 - Free kick to England from 35 to 40 yards out - could be dangerous with this ball and at this altitude from Gerrard/Lamps/Rooney - looks like Lamps is going to take and...would have been a nice field goal in "our" football;
3:57 - Replay of Altidore's shot - nice save and then a nice "play" from the post;
3:58 - I have to say, I'm starting to get that nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach when there is a lot on the line in a big sporting event - great fun when the match lives up to the anticipation;
3:59 - Great cross from Gerrard into Rooney who just isn't tall enough to control the header - he was in alone;
4:01 - Carra probably should have been off there - Findley had beaten him and he took him down but the ref doesn't change the course of the match by giving a red card - probably a decent decision even if it might not technically been the right decision;
4:03 - Rooney with an attempted bomb that goes just wide - hope that doesn't wake him up;
4:04 - THo with a great save on SWP to keep it even - on the resulting corner Rooney has a tight-angle shot that Howard controls - England building up the pressure;
4:06 - Buddle on for Findley - nice change of pace and it gives the US some time to catch their breath as England has been on them pretty hard - would LOVE to see Torres for the US about now;
4:08 - Crouch in for Heskey - I'm not sure why he worries me so much but he does; England out of substitutions which is good because I was even more worried about Defoe;
4:08 - US NEEDS some possession here;
4:10 - Terrible pass from England gives the US a throw in England's half but the US gives it away and then is forced to foul to stop a break;
4:12 - Poor break from England who has numbers - nice defending from Onweyu to make things difficult on Lamps and Lennon (or was it SWP? hard to tell as they've been equally useless);
4:14 - Shades of US/Italy as the US seems to be bunkering in and going for a point - my heart is in about the same place as it was in that stadium in Germany 4 years ago (in my throat);
4:15 - Holden on for Altidore who had a nice match and could easily have had a winner;
4:17 - Long ball from Lando that goes over;
4:19 - Corner to the US who seems to have a little bit of late possession - anything to come of it?
4:19 - 4 added minutes...tick....tick...tick...
4:21 - Dempsey has a speculative shot with a minute and a half or so left - nothing in it but nice to see it in that end;
4:22 - 30 seconds remaining - could it be?
4:23 - WOOHOO!!!!
4:25 - Whew - pretty amazing match - lots of fun and it has to give the US confidence going into the rest of the group. Could it be that we get first and avoid Germany in the next round?