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<p>Blame the new World Cup ball, which players have called difficult to control and goalkeepers have lamented its wacky trajectory, but two major blunders by netminders cost their teams dearly this weekend.</p>

Blame the new World Cup ball, which players have called difficult to control and goalkeepers have lamented its wacky trajectory, but two major blunders by netminders cost their teams dearly this weekend.


After an early goal gave England the lead on Saturday, the United States equalized when a Clint Dempsey dribbler was fumbled by goalkeeper Robert Green. The goal gave the United States life and inspired them to a dramatic 1-1 result against heavily favored England.


Yesterday Algeria was down a man, trying to hold on for a draw against Slovenia. In the 79th minute, Slovenia’s Robert Koren fired a shot from distance that goalie Faouzi Chaouchi appeared to have covered easily. Chaouchi, though, failed to extend his arms and the ball — coupled with a synthetic turf blend field — fooled the keeper who saw the ball go just inches by him.


The efforts of Green and Chaouchi stand juxtaposed to Tim Howard, the United States’ goalkeeper who sparkled against England. Howard, considered by most analysts as one of the world’s top five goalies, played through pain after taking a cleat to the ribs. He went on to make six saves in the tie in what will go down as one of the best goalkeeping efforts in United States soccer history.


“Tim is irreplaceable,” U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo said.