English newspapers put US in lead over England

Dec 7, 2009 - 10:30 PM By CHRIS LEHOURITES AP Sports Writer

LONDON(AP) -- With six months to go before the World Cup, Tim Howard has already put the fear in England.

The United States goalkeeper saved a late penalty kick by England forward Jermain Defoe in Everton's 2-2 draw with Tottenham on Sunday in the Premier League, and some British newspapers reacted as if the World Cup were already under way.

"It's US 1 England 0 as Everton's American keeper saves Defoe penalty and denies Tottenham victory," the Daily Telegraph wrote on the front page of Monday's sports section.

The United States and England were put in the same World Cup group at Friday's draw in South Africa. They will face each other June 12 in Rustenburg in the opening Group C match.

"America 1 England 0," the Daily Mirror wrote in a banner headline in its sports section. Underneath, the paper wrote: "USA keeper wins spot-kick duel with England hot-shot Defoe (let's hope and pray there's no repeat on June 12)."

The Metro, a free daily targeting commuters, headlined: "USA 1 England 0: Defoe blows chance."

It will be the second time the United States and England will meet at soccer'ss biggest tournament, and the Americans will be protecting a perfect record against their former colonial ruler after pulling off a 1-0 shocker at the 1950 tournament in Brazil.

The Guardian newspaper appears to believe that Howard's penalty stop at Goodison Park will give the American team a boost in its quest for another victory.

"Howard saves and takes heart for World Cup clash," the newspaper wrote in a lower headline.

In reality, though, Howard's save won't mean anything when the tournament starts June 11 in Johannesburg. But it is still on the minds of many English fans who feel next year is their chance to reclaim the title they won at home in 1966.

The Sun, however, didn't want to heap all the praise on Howard, instead giving Defoe equal credit for a goal scored earlier in the match.

"England ... 1 USA ... 1," the tabloid headlined over a picture of Howard falling to his right and with the ball about to hit him in the legs.

To even have a chance of winning the tournament, both countries will have to advance from a four-team group that also includes Algeria and Slovenia. After three games each, only the top two in each of the eight World Cup groups reach the second round.

Traditionally, the English have looked down on U.S. soccer, but there have been solid American players on several Premier League teams over the years. This season, a handful of Americans are playing in the Premier League and lower divisions, including Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson at Fulham, Jozy Altidore at Hull, Jonathan Spector at West Ham and Brad Guzan and Brad Friedel at Aston Villa.

Of them all, Howard is surely the best-known American playing in England right now - at least if you read the papers.

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