The balance of power in the soccer world has long since evened out. Yet the star-studded Brits that took the field in the cold South African winter air Saturday night were still heavily favored to win against a U.S. team lacking marquee names.
The outcome, an entertaining, if flawed, 1-1 draw, will hardly shock the world like that famous score 60 years ago.
But make no mistake, this was a big result for U.S. soccer.
Suddenly the unfancied American team is looking at not only getting out of Group C alive but maybe even winning it, and in doing so creating a possibly easier passage for itself in the round — dare we say rounds? — to follow.
The question is: how long can this team call itself an underdog?
"It allows us to play with a lot less pressure."
Yet it was the U.S. that looked stunned by the big occasion in the opening minutes. Several times the defense gave the ball away with careless passing.
It came as little surprise when Steven Gerrard gave England the early lead with a cool finish after some good hold-up work by Emile Heskey.
The U.S. was clearly rattled and kept in the game only by several impressive saves from Howard.
England, however, failed to build on its early momentum and began to sit back, allowing the Americans a lifeline back into the game.
Then, nearing halftime, the U.S., which had failed to truly threaten despite gaining more possession, received the kindest of gifts when England keeper Robert Green somehow managed to fumble Clint Dempsey's speculative left-footed shot from 30 yards out over his own goal line.
It also turned out to be the turning point of the game.
England never looked the same. In the second half, England created spells of sustained pressure and had several chances to regain the lead.
Instead it was the U.S. that came closest to a winner when Jozy Altidore muscled his way past defender Jamie Carragher and hit an angled shot that Green tipped onto the post.
Nearing the end of regulation, the wall of noise from thousands of vuvuzelas was penetrated by growing chants of U-S-A from the American fans, whose confidence seemed to grow along with that of the U.S. team as the game wore on.
They will take particular heart from a towering performance by Howard, whose heroics earned him the man of the match award.
Any team that wants to go far in the World Cup will need a goalkeeper at his absolute peak and the U.S. seems to be in safe hands with Howard.
But in upcoming games against unheralded Algeria and Slovenia, the U.S. will have a hard time casting itself as as underdog.
Not that defender Oguchi Onyewu didn't try after the game.
"There are no easy games in the World Cup," he said. "Algeria and Slovenia are no different from England."
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