June 12, 2010 is a date that will live in the minds of many fans of American soccer. It was when the United States Men’s National Team opened up the 2010 World Cup against England in one of the most anticipated matches in U.S. Soccer history. When the draw for the the 2010 World Cup happened in South Africa in December 2009, the United States were drawn into a group with England, Algeria, and Slovenia. That prompted the British tabloids to be a little cocky about their chances of winning the group:
Because the two teams were drawn to play each other first, the anticipation had months to build, leading up to the match in Rustenberg, South Africa on June 12th. The match, that was billed as an even one in the days leading up to it, looked like it was going to be a bloodbath early. In the 4th minute, Frank Lampard sent a ball intended for Wayne Rooney into the box. It skipped past him to Emile Heskey, who turned and played a ball into an open space for Steven Gerrard. Gerrard was able to slip the ball past Tim Howard for the game’s opening goal.
While England held a lot of the possession early, the USMNT fought back. In the 40th minute, Clint Dempsey received the ball around 40 yards from goal. He was able to turn a couple times on Gerrard to create some space, and then launches a shot with his left foot towards English goalkeeper Robert Green. Green fielded the ball, but it skips past him and rolls over the line into the goal while Green desperately tried to save it.
It was a howler, one of the more memorable ones in World Cup history, and it leveled the score at 1-1.
The score would end up 1-1, and the story would be Robert Green’s howler. Clint Dempsey got the credit for the goal, and it was a deserved credit. The shot was hard and with his off foot from well outside the box. Still, Robert Green became a running joke because of his famous howler that caused the U.S. to draw England.
The USMNT would go on to win the group after some last-day heroics by Landon Donovan (we all know the moment), while England finished second. The E-A-S-Y headline is one that will haunt English fans for a long time, and it was Clint Dempsey’s left foot (mixed with a Robert Green fail) that was the cause of it.