US coach Bradley praises fightback

Rustenburg: United States coach Bob Bradley praised his team for the way they fought back for a 1-1 draw against England albeit helped by a goalkeeping clanger in their opening Group C game on Saturday.

“It was important for us to come away with a point. We had a difficult start but the response from the team was strong and there are good things we can take away from this match,” Bradley said after a game that left both sides in contention.

“England made us pay but it forced us to get going in the game very quickly,” he added of his team’s early sloppiness.

England had taken the lead in the fourth minute through captain Steven Gerrard but the US drew level in the 40th when Clint Dempsey’s shot slipped through the hands of Robert Green.

American keeper Tim Howard, who in stark contrast to Green was named man of the match, was critical of the way the US failed to defend from a throw-in before Gerrard struck.

“We were not sharp early on, not tight enough and nervy as well although they came out well,” he said.

Pretty Annoyed

“I was pretty annoyed, the marking was too lax, particularly for the beginning of the game, but then you have to respond and you can’t dwell on it at that point.

“We responded and once we calmed down we did well. At times it was backs to the wall, it wasn’t pretty. They were always going to have their share of possession but I’m happy overall,” he added.

Bradley was pleased with the way central defender Oguchi Onyewu handled his first 90 minutes in over seven months.

“It is part of him coming back, he is a good competitor. The longer the game went on the more comfortable he felt,” he said.

“It was a good team effort defensively, (England striker Wayne) Rooney is such a mobile player that it requires a good level of concentration -- although in the first half I thought our back line was sometimes out of sync,” added Bradley.

The US players applauded their fans as they left the field and seemed satisfied with the result against opponents who had expected to beat them but Bradley said his team now had their thoughts on the other group rivals Slovenia and Algeria.

“We have had a good focus all the time and have understood what the first round is about. It was a big game and a big night and overall we take away positive things as we now get ready for Slovenia (next Friday),” he said.

Bureau Report

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