USA 1 – England 1
RUSTENBURG, South Africa - On Saturday night, Wayne Rooney was throwing his arms into the air, but it wasn't in celebration of what many expected to be a sure-thing goal against the U.S. team.
Rooney, England's all-everything striker, had been on a goal-scoring tear, ripping through the English Premier League season. But in a 1-1 U.S.A.-England tie at Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rooney was halted by the U.S. team's packed-in defensive effort.
Surprisingly, the Americans' defensive tactics didn't include bullying Rooney into an emotional tirade - something he's quite known for. In the first half, England's Steven Gerrard scored before Rooney even touched the ball. It wasn't until a few minutes later that No. 10 took the ball outside the box and introduced himself to the match.
"He didn't have many chances," said U.S. midfielder Landon Donovan. "He didn't really get behind us. He didn't have any really good looks on goal."
Rooney chased the ball everywhere, making runs up and down the field, but all of his efforts ended in visible frustration. Although Rooney avoided receiving one of the game's six yellow cards, on a handful of occasions he picked himself off the turf with his arms extended in frustration.
On the back line of the U.S. team's defense, Jay DeMerit marked Rooney. As Rooney crept into the midfield, the Americans communicated well enough to collapse into him. On the rare chances that Rooney slipped away for a shot on goal, either on a cross or from distance, U.S. goalie Tim Howard handled each of them.
"I thought Jay did well to follow him into the midfield, and they had pressure from the midfielders coming back to close him down," said U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra. "Second half was a little bit more open, and he got a few more chances to run at us, but that's going to happen when we're a bit tired and space gets more open. I thought we did well on him."
By Kate Fagan, Inquirer Staff Writer