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England has more to worry about than just Green
By Tim Keeble, Soccer Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's safe to say that the English tabloids will come up with all kinds of clever headlines to describe the horrendous goal that Robert Green conceded in the Three Lion's 1-1 draw with the United States on Saturday to open the team's 2010 World Cup.

And while the enduring image of this match will be of a horrified Green desperately scrambling in vain to keep out Clint Dempsey's low shot, which slipped between his hands and trickled over the goal line, English fans have more to worry about than just their goalkeeping situation.

It's safe to say that Green will probably not take up the same position between the posts when England faces Algeria on June 18 in its next match, with either David James or Joe Hart manning that post.

James is the most experienced of the three, but at 39-years-of-age its fair to question if he still has it, while Hart had the best season of the three for Birmingham but is short on experience at just 23.

The goalkeeping situation was one of the big questions prior to the tournament, but there were a few other unsettling things that England manager Fabio Capello must work out.

The Italian is the highest-paid manager in the tournament and he will have to earn every penny if he is to take England as far as expected in this summer's competition.

Rio Ferdinand was given the captain's armband prior to the tournament before he suffered a knee injury that ruled him out. This left the injury-prone Ledley King to fill in for the Manchester United man, but he not-so- surprisingly lasted just one half before being replaced by Jamie Carragher, seemingly because of another injury.

Not only is Capello operating with a thin back line, but one that is also fairly slow.

American striker Jozy Altidore exploited this midway through the second half when he ran right by Carragher on the left wing and nearly bagged the winning goal, with Green tipping Altidore's shot onto the post.

If King is again battling injury problems it leaves only Carragher, Matthew Upson and the uncapped Michael Dawson as options in central defense to pair with John Terry.

There were a few bright spots in the England midfield as Steven Gerrard scored the team's lone goal and provided a number of dangerous crosses from the wings, while Aaron Lennon's pace proved troublesome on the right side.

But once again Frank Lampard struggled to make an impact, which has become a consistent theme for the talented Chelsea man.

It was hard to determine whether or not Wayne Rooney was on the field until the final 20 minutes, and he only made an impact when he began to drop further into the midfield to gain possession after failing to get decent service.

Gerrard's goal came just four minutes into the match and it looked like England would coast to victory from there, but instead the Americans worked their way back into the game and came within inches of taking the lead in the second half.

England put together good spells of play when they moved the ball along the ground and got it wide in space, but toward the end of the game they lacked creativity and got caught up in knocking long balls toward the head of substitute Peter Crouch instead of working it through the midfield.

The United States is no longer a lightweight in the world of soccer, but this was not a European heavyweight like Germany or Italy that gave England such a tough time.

We have heard so much about the famous 1950 meeting between these two teams when the USA stunned England, 1-0.

And while that result was an embarrassment for the British and they will now have to live with failing to beat the Yanks for a second time in the World Cup, there are clearly more important things to worry about.

A draw with the USA should be treated like losing to your little brother in a game of backyard basketball, its annoying but not the end of the world.

What will be treated like a tragedy, however, will be if England fails to advance beyond the quarterfinals for the fourth successive World Cup.

And based on what we saw on Saturday, there is a lot of work to be done in order to avoid another crisis.


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