There were plenty of question marks over Bob Bradley’s United States side heading into Saturday’s game with England, but after the 1-1 draw in the Group C opener, most of them were answered in the affirmative.
Bradley is a conservative coach by nature and that was reflected in a formation which followed the principle of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”
Throughout most of their qualification campaign, the U.S. had utilized a 4-4-2 line-up with Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey in the wide positions and two holding, central midfielders. Against England, Bradley might have been tempted to overload the midfield and play just one striker, but he stuck with what has worked for his team since the Confederations Cup. It delivered a solid performance which gives the U.S. a good platform for the upcoming games with Slovenia and Algeria.
“That’s how we play. We play scrappy, we play hard, we fight for 90 minutes in a big group effort, and it showed,” said team captain Carlos Bocanegra.
It went from scrappy to scary after goalkeeper Tim Howard collided with Emile Heskey in the 29th minute. The incident left Howard “in agony” and may have broken some ribs.
“At this time I think there’s no answer,” Bradley said of Howard’s availability for Friday’s match. “But when you see the way Timmy handled himself, you’d certainly expect he’ll be on the field again.”