Although admitting that his side are happier with the point gained in Rustenburg than their opponents England, Landon Donovan believes that USA have even more to give following their 1-1 draw with Fabio Capello's Group C favourites.
The LA Galaxy star was a thorn in the side of the Three Lions, particularly during the first half, when his right-footed deliveries, either from the flanks or from set-pieces, created several chances for his countrymen. After going behind to Steven Gerrard's early goal, Bob Bradley's side needed someone to steady the ship and get the team on the attack. In Donovan, they had just that – a player willing to pick up the ball and run at England's defence.
Somewhat self-effacingly, the 28-year-old refused to take any of the credit himself, preferring to share it among his team-mates. However, while the rest of the dressing room celebrated at holding the section's top seeds to a draw, the midfielder let slip that he was not completely happy with his own team's performance.
We’ve got to work on the things that didn’t go as well as we’d hoped.
"We're proud of the effort we put in and getting a result against one of the best teams in the world is a very positive start," he told FIFA.com. "Our energy, desire and willingness to fight was very good, but from a technical point of view we weren't as good as we wanted things to be. It's easy for people to tell us that we should qualify for the knockout stage and this is an easy group to navigate, but we know that it's going to be difficult. We cannot afford to take Slovenia lightly and we’ve got to work on the things that didn't go as well as we'd hoped over the next few days."
USA return to their training base near Pretoria today, with five days to prepare for the match with Slovenia at Ellis Park. The Zmajecki represent an unknown quantity for the Americans, in stark contrast to England. Only four of Saturday's starting line-up – Michael Bradley, Steve Cherundolo, Ricardo Clark and Robbie Findley – had never been under contract with an English club in their careers, with Donovan himself enjoying a three-month loan spell with English Premier League side Everton earlier this year.
Perhaps as a consequence, Donovan was quick to offer words of encouragement to Capello's men who left were left frustrated by their share of the spoils. "I'm sure England will go far in this tournament," he said. "They are a talented team with a lot of talented players and when you look at their squad, they have world-class players in every position. When you consider that we came off the field a little disappointed that we didn't play a little bit better and perhaps even win the game, it shows you just how well we did."
South Africa 2010 represents Donovan's third FIFA World Cup™, following appearances at Korea/Japan and Germany respectively. However, in the midfielder's eyes, the tournament has lost none of its magic. He smiled as he said the memories of last night's game would live with him forever. "Playing at a World Cup is always great, but the experience of meeting England at the highest level is something which I don't think any of us will ever forget. There was an absolutely superb atmosphere inside the stadium. Both sets of fans were absolutely great."