2010 World Cup: United States advances thanks to Donovan’s goal in closing minutes

Just minutes away from elimination, Landon Donovan saved the United States’ World Cup hopes with a thrilling last-minute goal off a rebound to beat Algeria 1-0 on Wednesday. The win means that the U.S. will advance to the second round of the World Cup.

From ESPN.com:

It gave the Americans first place in Group C. With just its fifth shutout in World Cup play, the United States (1-0-2) won a group for the first time since 1930 and will face the runner-up in Group D this weekend.

After his U.S. record 44th international goal, Donovan joyously ran to the corner flag and his teammates ran down the touchline to mob him. Donovan was in tears when the game ended and the United States had moved into the second round.

As the final whistle sounded, the U.S. bench raced onto the field and piled on top of the players on the far sideline. At midfield, Steve Cherundolo and Jay DeMerit collapsed to the ground. They all bearhugged Donovan, who with his fourth World Cup goal tied Bert Patenaude (1930) as the American leader.

As the team returned to the sideline, goalkeeper Tim Howard bounced up and down in elation. Benny Feilhaber took a water bottle and sprayed his teammates, champagne-like.

“We’re not done yet,” Donovan said. “We believe, man. We’re alive, baby.”

What an unbelievable, thrilling ride it has been so far for the U.S. soccer team. Their win today makes the tie against England that much more important and the controversy versus Slovenia a distant memory.

Do yourself a favor and check out the highlights of the win today against Algeria. The U.S. had so many opportunities to score throughout the game and at one point, it appeared as though the ball would never find the back of the net. Both teams played incredibly well – especially both goalies, who each put on a clinic today.

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Peter King outraged over blown call in U.S. draw vs. Slovenia

Peter King is hopping mad about the blown call during Friday’s draw between the United States and Slovenia at the World Cup.

Here’s King’s explanation of the play:’

With the score tied at 2 in the 86th minute, the United States had a direct kick on the Slovenian side of the field. There was much pushing and shoving in front of the goal, both before the ball was in the air and while it flew toward the net. Replays showed three American players being bearhugged by Slovenians — and Americans, in the case of at least two scrums, hugging back. But in the case of an earlier hero, midfielder Michael Bradley, Slovenian Aleksander Radosavljevic did his best Ray Lewis imitation, practically dragging Bradley down just feet from the goal. As the ball fell to earth, American sub Maurice Edu pounced on it, flicking it hard into the net for what appeared to be the winning goal. But in his first World Cup game, referee Koman Coulibaly, from the landlocked West African country of Mali, ran into the fray and blew off the goal.

King is mostly upset that Coulibaly didn’t explain why there was a penalty and which player it was on.

At least four Americans tried to find out what the call was. But Coulibaly, who, according to several U.S. players was all but mute during the game (a rarity in world-class games, they say), didn’t inform either side what call he made. We still do not know what the infraction was that Coulibaly called, and under the idiotic rules of FIFA, Coulibaly doesn’t have to say what the infraction was. He might go to his grave with it.

“Who knows what it was?” said the man of the match, Landon Donovan of the United States. “I am not sure how much English he spoke, or if he spoke English. But we asked him several times in a non-confrontational way. He just ignored us.”

The call was awful. But in all sports, when hugely controversial calls are made — the Tuck Rule call by Walt Coleman in the Raiders-Patriots playoff game nine years ago, the Jim Joyce ruination-of-the-perfect-game this month — at least we know what the call is. Here, millions of people staring at TVs around the world are still asking, “What’s the call?”

So I asked Bob Bradley in the American press conference: “Isn’t something like this a bit of an outrage in a game of this importance?”

I could see Bradley thinking about how to answer this question. When he did, he said, “In the midst of a game, it’s rare that a referee will give you an answer. When you’re involved in the game long enough, there are moments when you’re frustrated … That’s the way the game works. And you move on.”

I find it off-putting that Bradley can chalk this situation up to, “That’s the way the game works.” That’s not right and if that’s how soccer usually operates, then no wonder more Americans don’t get into the sport.

The U.S. deserves an explanation.

2010 World Cup: Was U.S. robbed by refs in draw against Slovenia?

Thanks to a furious comeback in the second half, the United States was able to draw with Slovenia in Friday’s World Cup match in Johannesburg. Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley each had goals to help the U.S. erase a 2-0 Slovenia lead and help Americas’ chances of advancing in the World Cup.

The thrilling finish was tempered, however, when a late goal by the U.S. (one in which could have won the game) was waived off by a referee.

From ESPN.com:

Donovan scored in the 48th minute and Michael Bradley, son of U.S. coach Bob Bradley, tied the score in the 82nd.

Second-half sub Maurice Edu appeared to put the U.S. ahead in the 86th, poking in close-range shot after Jozy Altidore headed Donovan’s free kick to him. But the goal was disallowed by referee Koman Couilibaly of Mali, apparently for a foul before Edu got the ball.

“I’m a little gutted to be honest,” Donovan said. “I don’t know how they stole that last goal from us. I’m not sure what the call was. He (the referee) wouldn’t tell us what the call was.”

Slovenia (1-0-1) leads Group C with four points and would have qualified for the second round with a win.

The U.S. (0-0-2) is second with two points, followed by England (0-0-1) with one point, pending its match against Algeria (0-1) in Cape Town later Friday. The top two teams in the group advance.

I don’t know much about soccer (if anything), but it appears as though the U.S. was hosed by the call. An explanation of why the goal was not allowed would be nice.

Either way, the U.S. has put itself in position to advance if it can get a victory. (A loss by Slovenia wouldn’t hurt either.)

Photo from fOTOGLIF

2010 World Cup: England’s competition is prepared

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Earlier this week at the FIFA World Cup Draw, England and the United States wound up in the same pool. This British press prematurely celebrated, claiming their national team should have no trouble against the likes of Algeria, Slovenia, and their friends from across the pond.

The competition thinks otherwise, and they want England to know about it.

Easy. That’s what the English hacks think of the group. They see virtually no chance of an upset, no chance for the Algerians, the Slovenians or the Americans finishing atop the table.

Alexi Lalas, who played for the U.S. when it defeated England in a friendly in 1993, is unimpressed by it all, at least according to the Sun.

“We can play off the fact that England always thinks they are better than they are,” Lalas said.

Former Slovenian star Zlatko Zahovic was even more scathing.

“For me, England is not one of the favorites,” he said.

“They are a team full of stars and egos. They cannot possibly spend a month and a half together without friction.”

This is the kind of trash talk — bland or not — that the World Cup needs in the following months. Now Landon Donovan needs to hit the podium and lay down some slams.

Check out FIFA’s World Cup site to view the rest of the draws.

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