Gauging late-match World Cup strategy 

June, 15, 2010
06/15/10
9:56
AM ET

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 is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.

SPONSORED HEADLINES