The United States scored a goal. For real! It wasn’t disallowed or anything. It happened off the foot of Landon Donovan in 91st minute of the game. It should have been the second goal the United States scored, but the first was disallowed. If the United States had failed to advance, this entire World Cup would have been remembered for the United States getting cheated out of two game-winning goals in the first round of the World Cup. After a flurry of action and Landon Donovan’s eventual goal, all the nightmares of the first round are completely erased as the United States won their group. It wasn’t easy though.
It almost happened again. The United States almost gave up another early goal with under ten minutes gone in the game. Jay DeMerit whiffed on a ball in his own 18 yard box, which led to a ridiculous scoring opportunity for Algeria as Cherundolo failed to cover for his teammate. Thankfully for U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard and the United States defense, the ball ricocheted off the cross bar and out of trouble. The United States defense dodged an early bullet, but for how long? The early letdowns have plagued the U.S. and the early opportunity for Algeria was another negative indicator.
In the 20th minute the United States had a goal called back on Clint Dempsey’s alleged offsides. A flurry of shots by the United States and Herculez Gomez ended up in a point blank finish by Clint Dempsey who truly did not appear to be in an offside position with an Algerian defender looking even. The United States had what looked to be another controversial disallowed goal.
Strangely enough, the exact moment that the U.S. goal was disallowed, England took the lead in their match against Slovenia. So in a meta view of the world, the United States experienced a two goal swing.
In the 35th minute, the United States had another great opportunity for an apparently onside Dempsey. Like so many other opportunities for the United States so far this World Cup, it was set up by Landon Donovan. He found Dempsey at the far post and Dempsey just couldn’t get the ball through the tackling goalkeeper. This was quickly followed by another amazing opportunity that ended up going over the goal when Altidore and Donovan both seemingly got a foot on it in the mouth the the Algeria goal.
The first half finished at a decidedly better 0-0 than the 2-0 deficit against Slovenia, but the tone was almost more ominous. The United States had wasted too many first half opportunities, while allowing Algeria to gain confidence with their opportunities. In addition, the United States needed to be wary of the 1-0 halftime lead that England had over Slovenia simultaneously.
In the 57th minute the United States again failed to capitalize on a great opportunity. Jozy Altidore made a great move around an Algerian defender, willed a weak cross into the center to a wide open Clint Dempsey who put the ball off the right post. Dempsey had one more foot on the ricochet, but it flew well high of the Algerian goal. The opportunities seemed to be good, but with each passing failure, the game seemed scarier and scarier.
In the 64th minute the United States looked to get a spark by replacing Edu with Edson Buddle, a more offensively minded player. Immediately after his entry into the game, the United States missed on another decent opportunity and on a subsequent corner. Then Buddle’s header was saved by the Algerian keeper. The countdown was seemingly as deafening as the vuvuzellas. 66 minutes down. United States still tied at 0-0 while England held a 1-0 margin in their game and subbing defense for offense to protect the lead.
As the clock hit 90, we were informed there would be four minutes of injury time. The United States scored that goal and when the three whistles sounded from the referee, a nation of soccer fans finally were able to breath.
What it means now is that the United States and England advance out of the group with their wins. Algeria and Slovenia were sent home. The United States overcame so much to win the group and advance. Hopefully it will give them confidence heading into the rest of their action.