Great Late Goal!
The U.S. team makes it to the World Cup's second round, thanks to a last-minute goal by Landon Donovan
U.S. player Landon Donovan, center, is hugged by teammate Stuart Holden, left, as they watch Donovan's goal replayed on a big screen after their World Cup soccer match against Algeria in South Africa Wednesday, June 23, 2010. (Elise Amendola/AP Images)
Just get to the second round. On Wednesday, that was the goal of the U.S. soccer team in the World Cup. Players felt that anything less would be a failure.
The U.S. team didn't fail. Led by midfielder Landon Donovan, the Americans defeated Algeria 1-0 on Wednesday. The victory took the U.S. team to the next round and made it champion of Group C. The U.S. is now scheduled to play Ghana on Saturday.
Wednesday's victory did not come easily. Time after time, U.S. players made shots on the Algerian goal that somehow missed. One shot even bounced off the crossbar. Nothing seemed to end the 0-0 tie.
At one point, Clint Dempsey made a shot that appeared to put the U.S. ahead. But a referee disallowed the goal, saying that Dempsey had been off sides. Replays showed that the referee was wrong. This blown call was similar to one in the U.S.-Slovenia game less than a week ago.
The Goal They Had Been Waiting For
The U.S players had tied their two previous games. They had to have a win over Algeria to move on. Finally, with close to three minutes left in the game, Donovan put the ball in the net. U.S. players joyously mobbed him. Donovan celebrated by sliding on his belly to the corner flag.
Donovan's lightning strike goal was one of the most exciting moments in the history of American soccer. It was the first time the U.S. won a World Cup match in eight years. It also marks the first time the U.S. will move past round one since 2002.
Although the game took place before noon in the U.S., fans were glued to the action. When Landon scored, cheering broke out in offices and on streets across the country.
"We've had other wins that were very important, but the difference with today is that America is tuned in," said U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati.
Strong for the Second Round
Ghana will be a tough opponent. The Ghana team knocked the U.S. out of the World Cup in the first round in 2006. But U.S. players are confident they will continue to play well in the second round.
"We just keep going," Donovan said. "And I think that's what people admire so much about Americans."
England is the other Group C team to make it to the second round. The Three Lions (a nickname for England's soccer team) ended the first round with the same record as the United States: 1-0-2. But the Americans won the group by scoring more goals. This is the first time in 80 years that the U.S. has emerged as one of the first round champions at the World Cup.
A World Cup Win for the U.S.?
Can the United States win the World Cup? That will be tough. All of the U.S. games have been very close. And if the U.S. beats Ghana, it will likely face powerhouse teams like Brazil and Argentina. But as goalie Tim Howard pointed out, the Americans have given their fans very exciting games so far.
"That emotion, that passion is what American sports fans thrive on."
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