It was hard not to feel a sense of déjà vu as England goalkeeper Rob Green let Clint Dempsey’s tame effort squirm into the net on Saturday evening, handing the USA an embarrassing equaliser. The game changed in an instant and England never re-established full control, prompting the predictable headlines from the English media, including ‘Hand of Clod’ in the Daily Mirror. The Times added that this was one spill the Americans would not complain about.

But all this word play will have done little to console English fans or Green himself as the clanger sunk in. After all, this was the latest in long line of gaffes from England goalkeepers in big games. In case anyone had forgotten, footage was rolled out of David Seaman backpedalling in vain against Brazil in the 2002 quarter-final as Ronaldinho’s freak free-kick looped under the bar. It was a moment that rocked Seaman’s career and denied England a realistic chance of reaching the final.

This clip was followed by Paul Robinson’s horrendous blunder against Croatia during the qualifying campaign for Euro 2008. Gary Neville’s back pass bobbled badly for the former Tottenham goalkeeper, who completely missed the ball with his attempted clearance and could only watch as it trickled into his net. Robinson, too, never really recovered from the embarrassment.

Croatia were also beneficiaries of England’s third recent howler when Scott Carson could only palm home a long range Niko Kranjcar strike. It came early in the decisive qualifier with Croatia at Wembley and England fell to a 3-2 defeat that saw them miss out on a spot at Euro 2008. Carson has since slipped off the radar.

So England goalkeepers have a track record of costly, career-altering blunders in big games and Green just added his name to the list. The hope among the English fans is that this one will not be as costly as those in 2002 and 2007 – but the history books are ominous. Now Fabio Capello must decide whether to keep faith with Green or throw either the experienced David James or the in-form Joe Hart into the side for England’s second group game against Algeria on Friday.

But in truth, though you would never know it from the headlines, the goalkeeping situation is not the only question that Capello must ponder over the next few days. Green’s mistake dominated the match reports but should not overshadow some of the other flaws in England’s performance during the 1-1 draw with the USA.

Firstly, there are injury concerns for Ledley King and James Milner, who both came off early on Saturday. Their replacements, Jamie Carragher and Shaun Wright-Phillips, struggled and Capello will hope to have at least one of them back for the Algeria game. Rio Ferdinand’s absence is certainly being felt.

Then there was the disappointing service to Wayne Rooney and Emile Heskey from a midfield that just does not look quite right without Gareth Barry. Rooney rarely troubled the American defence but would have profited from better crosses, particularly from Aaron Lennon. Lennon and Glen Johnson repeatedly found themselves in good positions for delivering crosses yet too often pondered or cut inside, allowing the Americans to regroup and deal with the crosses. At this level, such openings cannot be squandered.

England should have noted that their goal came from a lightning move, with Heskey’s first time ball finding Gerrard bursting forward and allowing the midfielder to guide home a delightful finish. Sadly, there was not enough of this quick build up play throughout the next 86 minutes. And for all Heskey’s strength in the air and his ability to hold up the ball, how long can Capello continue to start a striker with seven goals in 59 games at international level? The Aston Villa man missed a glorious chance in the second half when through on goal and that moment could have put England back in the ascendancy.

While the temptation will be to use Green as a scapegoat for dropping two points to an inferior American team, the reality is that there were other areas that also contributed to the setback. And the USA exceeded expectations. From the brave Tim Howard through to the hard-working Jozy Altidore, the USA played with commitment and belief. They thoroughly deserved the point, even though they needed Green’s helping hand to secure a draw.

Whether the West Ham stopper has played his first and last game at this World Cup remains unclear but it is a certainty that Capello will demand more from all his players. Expect to see major improvements in the clash with the Algerians.

And all is not lost for England. As many newspapers have pointed out, England’s World Cup winning team of 1966 began their campaign with a draw. For now, that is the most positive outlook English fans can adopt.