A Triumph Of The Will: The Fairy-Tale Story Of Team USA

Landon Donovan of the United States celebrates scoring the winning goal with team mates Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore

The United States National Team is through to the next round of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and will be facing Ghana thanks to a goal in the 93rd minute by superstar Landon Donovan.

In a game in where it seemed as if the entire world was against the United States, our boys found a way to keep their hopes and dreams alive. Seems like a recurring
act with this US National Team doesn’t it? Always finding a way when it looks like there is no way.

Coming back from a 0-2 hole they dug themselves against Slovenia, the boys in blue came into the second half full throttle and scored on the 47th minute courtesy of Landon Donovan.

In the 81st minute, the US struck gold yet again as Michael Bradley scored the tying goal. And the rest as people say, is history. One of the worst refereeing acts I’ve ever seen in a World Cup by Koman Coulibaly who denied Maurice Edu’s 85th-minute game-winning strike by calling a foul on the Americans when there was no foul whatsoever.

In the end, Team USA tied with Slovenia 2-2 and held their own destiny in the cup after a 0-0 draw by England and Algeria.

Coming into the crucial match versus Algeria on June 23, The United States seemed poised and ready to prove wrong not only the critics from other countries, but also the skeptics from their own country that they deserve a berth in the round of 16.

The first half was filled with emotion and heartbreak as the United States scored early only to have their goal taken back for being offsides. Upon replay on TV, you could clearly see that there was no offside and that the goal should have not been taken back, yet the Americans brushed off the latest injustice as if was just a speck of dirt on their jersey.

The tension got higher when we were told that England’s Jermain Defoe scored in the 22nd minute of their game. The United States needed a tie with Algeria and a tie in the England/Slovenia game, or a 1-0 victory for England and a 1-0 victory for the US to advance. If, England was up 1-0 and the United States was tied 0-0, they would be eliminated from the World Cup in the group stage for the second straight World Cup.

Tim Howard and Landon Donovan celebrate the game-winning goal

There were some great opportunities for the United States to go up, Clint Dempsey had that one goal disallowed for offside, Dempsey’s 12-yard shot off Jozy Altidore’s cross clanked off the far post in the 57th minute, and when the rebound came back to Dempsey, he put the follow shot wide to the near side, and Jozy Altidore missed yet another opportunity when he remarkably missed an open goal shot.

The game was completely uneven with the United States attacking and the Algerians simply trying to contain them. Give credit to the Algerian goalie, he was tremendous. The United States had 22 shots and 10 of them were on goal. He was amazing and on his way to the round of 16 before Landon Donovan’s Hollywood ending goal.

As frustrating as the boatload of blown U.S. scoring opportunities were and as porous as our defense was at times, no one can say that the team’s mental game isn’t among the best in the world. As the old German Leni Riefenstahl might have said, this was a triumph of the will.

In the press conference, an emotional Landon Donovan with blood on his jersey said “When you try and do things the right way, it’s good to see it get rewarded.” It sure does Landon. The U.S. won its group for the first time since 1930 when they came in 3rd place in the inaugural world cup in Uruguay.

One thing is for certain, June 23, 2010 will go down as one of the greatest dates in American soccer history.

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