The last time I watched the USA national team take on England it was in the early 1980's at OLD TRAFFORD and England only put out a B team to easily beat the Yanks.
This week at the new Wembley Stadium, Davd Beckham played his 101st match for his country and to celebrate his century in the 1-0 loss to France in the Stade de France a short time ago, Sir Bobby Charlton, his idle, was on hand to present a golden 'cap' to Becks in front of his team mates, the crowd and his family before starting against USA. Traditionally players used to receive a 'cap', made of navy blue velvet with silver braid' and the date and and name of the opposition on the peak for EVERY MATCH. Nowadays when a player is 'capped' he only receives one per season, with all the opponents embriodered onto it. The golden 'cap' has never been made before. I fully expected Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to follow Sir Bobby onto the pitch and tap David Beckham on each shoulder and say, 'Arise Sir David' but at 33 years old it was not to be-yet. Instead we had Sunil Gulati, US Soccer President, follow Charlton out to greet the players.
With a less than exciting opponent the crowd on a chilly evening was 71,000, 20,000 less than capacity and less than for 2 of the 3 play-off finals at the weekend, though the Yanks did attract more than Rochdale vs Stockport County two days earlier!!! It was more like Fabio Capello's Harlem Globetrotters vs Bob Bradley's Washington Generals. For the first half hour nothing much happened to warm the crowd and then England began to tick. In the 38th minute a free kick was won by Beckham and he took it himself to place on the head of John Terry to score past Tim Howard. Everyone had felt the pain, first of Terry's family bereavement and then his penalty miss in Moscow so it was nice to see him smile. This week the Italian coach has started giving press conferences in English, and is already as easy to understand as Rio Ferdinand!!
Up front Wayne Rooney, one of 7 players who started in Moscow, was showing very little and was lucky later to escape with only a yellow card for a horrendous tackle. In fact the referee Mr. Vassaras was a Greek bearing gifts as far as Wayne was concerned. In a competitive match he would have been off. The USA, wearing a less than exciting uniform that only NIKE seems capable of designing, were very ordinary. Am I the only one that thinks that Eddie Johnson could better use his good looks, diamond earings and smile, selling programs outside the stadium than being innefective as a soccer player? We had DeMarcus Beasley, not even outstanding at a very ordinary Glasgow Rangers team, not showing much, and Eddie Lewis, who makes the rest of his lousy Derby County side look like world beaters even worse. Clint Dempsey was disappointing, and the only player during the national anthem not to put his hand over his heart. Clint, if you don't know where your heart is then put your hand over your left nipple next time around !!. Josh Wolfe, released by TSV 1860 Munich will find it hard to find a new club with his poor showing, but Oguchi Ouyewu of Standard Liege was probably the best American out there, and is attracting interest in England.
The crowd was left to entertain itself by doing the Mexican Wave, both clockwise and anti clockwise and in the west end the England official band banged out patriotic tunes,-well they know about three,-and The Great Escape was the most often played. After Capello started acting like Sven and substituting liberally, the fans had had enough and made their own great escape, and when Steven Gerrard scored the second they ran for the exits. Walking along Olympic Way and under the Bobby Moore Bridge to Wembley Park tube station it's a wonderful sight to look back at the glow of the stadium Arch, lit up at night, but many fans were not very lucky and stepped ankle deep into the poo of the many police horses keeping order. If we can train mongrel dogs and our pet cats to go to the toilet at safe times, why not horses?