April 24, 2014

YES! United States Beats Algeria, Ref to Win Group

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.

  • mgbode

    I thought the offside was correct. He looked like his one foot was closer to the goal than the defender.

    however, it does stink to call it on a rebound shot when that is clearly not what the rule is in place to combat.

    either way, Tyus Edney for the win.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHceOvR464s

  • jimkanicki

    wow. just… wow.

    now about the refs… can we take it easy? we’re sounding like boston fans.

    first, ALG didn’t suck.. give them some credit.
    also, we had several offside calls go our way.
    and last, that late corner for ALG after our goal? the one that got their captain a red card? the one espn didn’t show a replay of? yeah, that one. i checked it on my HD DVR (#technology!). it was a bad call. ref watched the kick, ball hadn’t even reached its apex, and his hand is going to his mouth. it was nothing more that the typical jostling that had been let go all game. had the whistle not blown, their #2 had a wide open shot from the corner.

    i also think the criticism of ALG’s defensive style was off-base. they got MANY good looks in transition… even in the end when they were ‘playing to tie.’

    but HEY!! NICEEEEEEEEEEE!! let’s see who we get out of group d. i know we like winning our group but it’ possible we could wind up with germany (though that’s a longshot).

    [TWITTER IS CRUSHED.]

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com DP

    The way I thought the commentator explained it was that FIFA has stated that “the benefit of the doubt goes to the attacking player” in cases that close for offsides. Therefore, I can’t imagine a scenario where the linesman was in position to see that Dempsey was CLEARLY offside to make that call.

    If he was, then he was WAY out of position, as the replays all made it look too close to call (or, as mgbode points out, a tiny fraction of an infraction after seeing replays). My point is, how could a ref at live-speed feel he could definitively call that offside?

    Then again, how could Jim Joyce definitively call Jason Donald safe?

    No excuses, however for the at-least-two empty cages that the US missed from point-blank.

  • jimkanicki

    ^ps.. i should have said wide open shot from the corner ‘of the penalty box.’
    ^pps… great write-up craig.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    So is this like winning the Central Division in the NBA?

    /T-Shirts!!

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com DP

    Nah, Scott, England is better than any of the other teams in the EC/Central. But your point is well taken.

  • AMC

    What an incredibly moment for US soccer that Donovan goal was. Just think how everything changed in that moment – if that doesn’t happen the focus is on the goals taken away by the refs and the opportunities missed by the US (you didn’t even mention Jozy’s miss over the crossbar in the first half on basically an open net). With that moment, the US not only moves on, but wins the group!

  • stin4u

    The call in question was much closer…I can live with it….ref calls are subjective, it’s part of the game just like baseball.

    What an amazing game though. The US had so many chances on goal, if their finishing was spot on this game could have easily been 4-0. It was like watching a toddler finally wobble to it’s feet and take it’s first step.

    Looking forward they’ll need to start producing more offensively if they’re going to make any waves in the knock out stage. I’m hoping for Ghana obviously 1) They aren’t as skilled as Germany 2) I love Germany and don’t want to root against the US. Also, major kudos to Jonathan Borstein for his play on defense today. Didn’t hear about him much and that is a good thing…..

  • mgbode

    it looked that way on the very quick replay they showed at least.

    http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=5318417&categoryid=4823314&cc=5901&ver=us

    at the 17 second mark. dang, that is close. line they draw is based on the Algerian foot and his knee looks over, but his foot does not.

    so, I take it back, bad call (but very, very close)

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    AMERICA IN ALL OF YOUR FACES

  • http://www.60bpm.com/ Robbie

    Considering the fact that the refs screwed USA on potential game-winning goals in two games, I think they’re fully deserving of the criticism they’ve drawn.

    Now, for all the “yanks” who still don’t get how exciting this game is after a match like that, there’s no hope for them.

  • http://twitter.com/Bbo13 B-bo

    The disallowed goal was so close that the linesman can’t be faulted too strongly–at game speed, that’s a coin toss. This was not on the level of the Edu goal being disallowed against Slovenia, no matter how bitter John Harkes wants to be. Frustrating, but not some grave injustice. We had more than our fair share of opportunities, and if we simply finish on them, this is a 4- or 5-nil laugher. Given we ultimately advance, obviously it’s great. But you don’t go forward in the knockout stage if you’re whiffing on scoring chances like that.

    Credit to Tim Howard for a great ball out to start the scoring push, and to Landon for moving that ball up and being in the right place at the right time on the rebound. Nice games by Jozy, Feilhaber, DeMerit, and heck, even Bornstein wasn’t bad. Liked the pace of play from the long-lost DeMarcus Beasley as well. Next match needs to see Buddle in the starting 11 over Gomez, who is much more effective off the bench as a change of pace guy.

    It’s games like this that illustrate, for me, why the World Cup is the pinnacle of sporting events.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    Man I forgot that Howard threw a 70 yard lead pass to Donovan on that goal. Good lookin’ out, B-bo.

  • mgbode

    my hatred for the NYY makes my stomach churn anytime we are referred to as Yanks

  • http://www.twitter.com/boxoflewine Eli

    Howard for QB of the Browns.

  • http://twitter.com/Bbo13 B-bo

    Fact: Tim Howard has a better QB rating than DA

    /truestory

  • http://www.60bpm.com/ Robbie

    And, I’m calling it now: USA vs Argentina in the final. :)

  • CJG

    @ Robbie- You realize that according to bracket-ology, the road to the Finals will probably go through Brazilians?

  • jimkanicki

    @den: howard’s bomb was on another play.

    however howard DID stop a point-blank header from inside the goal box immediately before the break. then outlet hit donovan in stride with his first touch right at midfield. i didn’t like jozy today, but he had a nice soft cross to dempsey on that run. dempsey didn’t any room.. like 3′ from the keeper when he got it. did a good job crushing him and causing the rebound and all praise to landon for digging hard to get in the play.

  • http://twitter.com/Bbo13 B-bo

    Fact #2: RON Howard has a better QB rating than DA

    /trueandsad

  • http://www.heyhokie.com Vengeful Pat

    I’m wearing an Altidore jersey today, so I was pretty happy when the US ended up winning. Otherwise, Altidore would have to share a lot of the blame for the loss. He did not look sharp with his final ball, even though he caused headaches for Algeria with his size and ability to dribble through some traffic. He needs to spend his off-season shooting the ball from different angles and learning how to finish rather than look for the foul.

    Amazing win though… the bar I was in was going insane, and I was too.

  • MP34

    @Scott,

    No comparison to winning a division in the NBA. The World Cup seems to be the wild west. Powerhouses such as Germany, England, and Spain have been on their heels in the group stage. For NBA comparisons, the only team that has played like a true #8 seed is North Korea. And they even gave Brazil some trouble. Just cause you can’t find a country on a map, doesn’t mean they can’t beat you any given day.

  • bobby

    That was the most Ive ever been into a soccer game. So many open nets missed by the US. It was great to see them move on!

  • JPS3

    First time we’ve won our group since 1930?! is that true?! So at one point we were actually good at international soccer??

  • Rich

    @jimkanicki. Was the yellow for the hand to the face, or the dissent? The ref seemed to give the foul and just a free kick, but then after the protest he called the player over and gave him a card. The player was going close to over the line too imo to warrant that yellow (which was his second).

  • mgbode

    Do 2 yellows mean that player must sit the next World Cup match for Algeria or a World Cup qualifying match?

  • Tom

    JPS3 — Not really. 1930 only had 13 teams, and we were drawn into a short-handed (three team) group. Also, it was mainly the Americas (travel was more difficult back then). The 1930′s World Cups were basically the Deadball era of International Soccer…

  • Rich

    mgbode, pretty sure now that they are out it means nothing for them. The slate is reset between qualifying and world cups.

    BTW, I’d like a change to the rules here. Two yellows over the course of multiple games should not equal a one game suspension. Think of it in terms like the NBA. A yellow card is basically the equivalent of a tech. You get two techs in one game, you are thrown out. However, if you get two techs in two seperate games, you don’t get suspended. It takes like 6 techs in the playoffs for that to happen. Yellow cards need to be the same. Two yellow cards over the course of three games should not be as harshly punished as it is. I mean, techs are far more rare in basketball and yet you are required to rack up a lot more. Let’s do the same in soccer because as it is you basically limit agressiveness from the get go, and no1 wants that.

  • da -Z-

    What a great game today, glad the US won. What bothered me though is the amount of chances we had that we didn’t capitalize on today. You can miss easy goals against Algeria. But if you face Brazil or the Netherlands, you better make those goals, because you will not have that many of those caliber opportunities with those teams. Anyways, great day for US soccer

  • Rich

    If we face Brazil or Netherlands, we aren’t winning anyway. Let’s just enjoy the ride.

  • jimkanicki

    @25 – the yellow (his second, thus a red) was definitely for dissent. there were four algerians blistering the ref but you can see spit flying at one point and i’m sure that’s what the card was for.

    the foul was called on the blonde guy. he was chippy all day with an early yellow and several more fouls after… so he was definitely on the ref’s radar. but it wasn’t much of a foul and it was really a bad time to call it.

    if one is prone to conspiracy theories (i’m not), one could build a case to say that once USA took a lead, this ref bailed FIFA out for the bad call against SLV.

  • jimkanicki

    i am still buzzed about that game.

    consider: our four best players stood up and came through in the clutch. CLUTCH PLAYERS. howard to donovan to altidore to dempsey to donovan. look at italy, spain, germany, england, netherlands, FRANCE… big names on their teams, but the names haven’t really delivered for them (yet). the clutch plays have come from korea, new zealand, slovenia… and USA.

    all that said, ghana looked better than germany today. anyone else think we drew the tougher team? ghana is going to be tough.

  • mgbode

    @30 – we are facing Ghana, then the winner of Uruguay/S.Korea.

    Sure, definitely not easy (who is at this point), but I feel better than if we were facing Germany and potentially Argentina in the 2nd round (as England now is faced with).

    I did not think Ghana was the better team. I’m not a soccer expert, so perhaps there are things that I missed, but Germany seemed to control the midfield better and were able to create better scoring opportunities. Ghana’s defenders sure cover a ton of ground though.

    Should be fun.

  • Rich

    I also feel comfortable with Ghana. Their lone win only happened because of a really, really horrible penalty given up by Serbia in game 1 late in the game. It wasn’t a chance that Ghana had created, but just a boneheaded hand ball on a cross that wasn’t going to be dangerous. Game should have ended 0-0. Their second game was a tie against a fairly weak Australia side in which Australia played with 10 men for most of the match. Then today they lost to Germany. So, yea, I think Ghana might be the weakest of the 16 teams.

    After that though….yikes. Uruguay, I thought, was a dark horse coming into this thing and they look REALLY strong right now. Not sure if the UNited States has played against a striker of Forlans quality in some time (Rooney is great, but that team just doesn’t give good service to him for w/e reason). They will be extremely tough to get past imo.

  • JK

    jimkanicki – I know Im late but how could you have “not liked Jozy today (yesterday)?!” He was easily the best player on the pitch for us. Donovan was invisible til his right place, right time, goal. Dempsey was ok, Demerit had a couple wiffs, Boc was decent as was Churundelo. I liked Gomez, but he only got 45 and was sloppy at times. Bradley did well to keep possesion but thats about all he was in for. Jozy constantly held the ball (which no other US player can seem to do). Gave us opportunities, nice passes, and some decent looks on goal. His yellow was b/s, but he was easily our best player yesterday.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    @ JK – I think Churundulo was the best on the pitch yesterday, since he was the one pushing the ball up the wings most successfully. But I agree that Jozy played well, aside from his (and everyone else’s) inability to bury the ball in the net.

  • todd

    the US team of the 1930 and 1950 were largely made up of immigrant players w/o citizenship.. the team we have now is the first legitimate team of born and raised US players which is quite a feat concidereing all our best athletes play other sports..

  • JJ in DC

    I agree with Denny, Cherundolo is one of those guys who gives you solid games nightin and night out (much of that due to his experience in the Bundesliga).

    We have a great chance vs. Ghana, but we have to be careful. Ghana is much better organized than Algeria, and also has better finishers up top. I’m optimistic for a 1-0 or 2-1 victory.

  • jimkanicki

    @denny36 and JJ38 — agreed. cherundolo is a quiet hero for us. fullback never get the love they deserve.

    @JK35. yo. maybe i expect too much from altidore. but he strikes me as the first american ATH-A-LEET playing soccer for us. you know? if soccer were our #1 sport we’d have terrell owens, lebron, and rajon rondo on the pitch. jozy looks like he coulda picked his sport and picked soccer.

    that said, he should be our threat. our closer. bury it. he missed a couple chances today and zero goals in three games. so there’s that.

    but against ALG he seemed to free-lance inappropriately. he had two fouls plus the yellow. but he killed us with several 3? turnovers. forced it. poor judgement. when it’s 1 on 2, just kick it back to bocanegra. ya know? he tried to be playmaker when he’s the closer. know your role.

    i will love to eat these words. but for me? i think buddle shows better soccer sense and comparable athletic ability.

    on a positive note though… he DID show a soft touch on the short cross to dempsey on our goal. that was perfect.

    cheers!