Commentary

Good result for U.S., but it's early

Early goal hurt, but Americans pulled through behind Dempsey, DeMerit and Donovan

Updated: June 13, 2010, 10:20 AM ET
By Cobi Jones | Special to ESPNLosAngeles.com

Editor's note: Cobi Jones is the all-time leader in appearances (164) for the U.S. men's national team and a three-time ('94, '98, '02) World Cup participant. He was a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy from 1996 to 2007 and is now an assistant coach for the club. He will offer his thoughts before and after every U.S. game.

Jones
Jones

Saturday's 1-1 tie with England in its opening World Cup game was a great result for the U.S. Obviously, the first 15-20 minutes weren't that good, but at the end, when it was all said and done, getting the goal, even though it wasn't the prettiest goal, we did create some great opportunities and scoring chances.

After England scored its goal, from that time on I thought we were the better team.

When you give up an early goal like the U.S. did, at the moment, it's quite a downer. That's obviously the last thing you want to do and the worst-case scenario. At that moment you're thinking the worst, but the Americans overcame it well, got together and continued to play, and soon started playing better. I'd like to see the U.S. use that positive energy in the games coming up and play well through the entire 90 minutes.

Giving up an early goal can be tough. Every player has gone through that to some degree. You have a big game and you give up a goal early on ... that's a tough situation to be in because now you need to score two to win and you have to score one just to even things out. At that point I think every player in their mind tries to take the game 15 minutes at a time. You're trying to even it out by halftime and then you condense the game in your head just to the last 45 minutes.

Team USA
Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty ImagesU.S. players acknowledge the crowd in Rustenburg after a 1-1 tie against England.

In terms of the starting 11 for the U.S. and knowing the way Bob has always coached this team, it seemed to fit right in to his strategy. He has always paired up Altidore with someone who has this blinding pace, so putting Findley in there makes sense.

I thought the substitutions were good. Maybe they could've been a little bit earlier. I would've liked to have seen Herculez come in, but that's a coach's decision always. It's unfortunate he didn't get a chance at the end, but I love the fact that Edson got an opportunity to get in there and do a little bit. I would have loved to see him some more (I know I have a little bit of a bias on that) because it's always interesting to see what you can do at that level.

Someone who's going to be unsung is Jay DeMerit, who played up and defended against Wayne Rooney. That won't be talked about a lot outside soccer circles. The fact Rooney didn't do much shows how well DeMerit played.

There were several other players who stood out against England as well.

Overall, when Dempsey got the ball, he made himself dangerous and created chances, and Altidore, at times, had some glimmers of specialness and that was good to see.

Dempsey's one of those players for whom things just tend to go his way. When he takes that shot against England, you're thinking "Why is he taking that shot from there?" and then, boom, all of sudden it slips off the keeper's hands into the net and you're just thinking, "that's typical Clint."

Somehow, some way the ball seems to go in the net for him and that's great. It's necessary to have someone like that on the team. Trust me, that's a characteristic of a player that doesn't go unnoticed by coaches because there are people like that in the game and he's one of them, and you always want to have a player on your team that can somehow, some way always pull off something special.

Landon wasn't one who stood out or shined necessarily, but he did a lot of dirty work defensively. He created a lot of the flow, and a lot of the game went through him. He's one of the leaders of the team and that's something you can't put a price on in a World Cup match. You need someone who can get the ball, keep their head and make sure everyone else knows he's there and someone you can go to and take the responsibility.

On the flip side, the defensive aspect is something that needs to be watched by the U.S., but that goes hand in hand with success in a World Cup. Winners in World Cups have great defenses. You can't have any mistakes in the back.

Even though we did well, and I feel we were the better team, we still gave up too many chances that were very dangerous in that last 60-70 minutes. England didn't get too close to our goal often, but when it did it was a dangerous chance and that's what needs to be focused on.

Individually everyone was pretty good, but as a group they need to be a little more in sync between the back four and the middle four.

I feel for England goalkeeper David Green though I'm excited to read the papers tomorrow in England and see what they say. They always seem to come up with good one-liners. I can't imagine what they're going to say, but they are going to hammer him for sure in the press.

As teammates though, you want to make sure everyone is supportive of the guy and he doesn't lose his confidence. In that situation, he still has to play another 45 minutes. Everyone in the world knows he made a big mistake so there's no need to dwell on it. When you go into the locker room there's probably that initial anger, saying 'You gotta do better, you gotta do better," but after that it's just like "Let's go on, let's move forward, put that behind us and work as a team to get through this."

For the U.S., this was a good result. It's still early in the Cup, so we'll see how things play out.

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