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A thirsty kickoff to the World Cup

If only Team USA felt the same love that England gets at the White Hart pub.

St George Cross on house in England
A house wound with red fabric to depict England's St George's Cross is seen in the Hampshire town of Ash, in southern England June 11, 2010. England face the United States in their opening game of the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa on Saturday. (Kieran Doherty/Reuters)

GlobalPost correspondent Michael Goldfarb live-blogs the USA-England World Cup match from a London pub.

4:30 p.m. ET — The game is now totally dominated by England ... a boxer's pressure ... but the opponent won't go down. Isn't quite knocked into submission either ... a counterattack with a lucky knockout punch is definitely within the USA's capability.

There are 10 minutes left in the game. Liam Leahy is still standing firm.

Now England break four on two. Nothing comes of it. Intensity and desperation fill the White Hart.

Liam is getting a little bit aggressive ... if it all kicks off I'm going to have to choose a side ... with him.

Game is winding down ... an end not with bang but a whistle. 

1-1 is the final score.

Liam pronounces himself satisfied with the result, predicting England and USA will get out of the round robin group and meet again in the knock-out stages of the tournament.

"Little improvements mean we will take them in the next round," he says confidently. And certainly tonight's performance by Team USA was very credible. They were lucky to score but not lucky to draw.

Anyway to return to my theme at the start of the evening: If you have a minute tomorrow go online and check out how the British press covers this game in comparison to the American press. You'll see the difference. 

My theory is that until American society cares about Team USA the way the folks in the White Hart Pub care about England, until they suffer the way these folks are suffering now, until the old phrase of my high school lacrosse coach the late Sandy Philips stops ringing true to American ears "A tie is like kissing your sister."

The intangible emotion Team USA needs to build on its credible growth simply can't happen.

As for England: Their supporters at the White Hart can still live in hope.

4:05 p.m. ET — Some more about Liam Leahy: He's from Gloucester, Mass., but pronounces it more like an English person Glosster rather than the native Glaw-stah. He is carrying the weight and burden of the American nation in this pub ... although my guess is outside of the World Cup he would be slightly skeptical of excessive patriotism ... but this is what the World Cup is really all about: providing a template for these primitive feelings to be safely played out ... too bad the folks at think tanks in Washington don't go in much for this kind of displacement activity.

(Instant replay just showed the England keeper Robert Green making a save as excellent as his clanger to let in the American goal was ugly ... The crowd behind me are singing the theme from The Great Escape).

Rooney very nearly scored ...

If you have friends who think football/soccer is boring, you must get them a tape of this game ...


3:50 p.m. ET — The second half is underway ... and I scored two Coronas (my preference would have been for the Cornish Ale but they didn't have a keg at the bar in the back of the second garden ... where I discover another couple of hundred people watching on TVs set up around the perimeter of the White Hart).

Sustained pressure since the start of the half. England's main man Wayne Rooney beats Howard but an American defender clears the ball off the line. Now Emile Heskey has a go ... and Howard makes a smothering save.

The half is only 7 minutes old.


3:25 p.m. ET — Half-time ... exciting stuff ... In South Africa and at the pub. A guy in an England shirt mimed setting Liam Leahy's American flag on fire. All in good fun. But I'm not too worried for Liam's safety. He tells me he works in documentary films and looks like he can handle himself. 

The other reason I'm not worried is that the White Hart is about 50 yards north of the Stoke Newington police station. Nothing is likely to get out of hand here. The Stoke cop shop has an unsavory reputation since 20 years ago for taking a cavalier attitude to prisoners' treatment. Much more enlightened now but they will be ready for the usual rowdiness that follows England games.

The queues for