Gauging late-match World Cup strategy 

June, 15, 2010

What drives the final minutes of play in World Cup action?

We got one answer when the U.S. and England battled to a draw in the opening round of the World Cup on Saturday, and the pace of their game changed markedly -- twice -- toward the end of the contest. At 79 minutes in, England made its final substitution (Peter Crouch for Emile Heskey); seven minutes later, the Americans inserted a fresh Stuart Holden for Jozy Altidore, and both teams seemed increasingly desperate to fight for a full win. But at 89 minutes, play calmed considerably; suddenly, both sides seemed content to draw, as Martin Tyler began exclaiming, "You don't want to be the goat here!"

Peter Keating

ESPN Senior Writer
Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. His column, The Numbers, appears in every issue.