June 23, 2010
By Michael Lewis
Donovan sends U.S. through in stoppage time
PRETORIA -- In the most dramatic finish in U.S. soccer history, Landon Donovan scored in stoppage time to lift the United States to a 1-0 World Cup victory over Algeria Wednesday, lifting the Americans into the second round.
|Landon Donovanís second goal of World Cup 2010 came in the nick of time to send the U.S. into the second round.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The win meant the U.S. (1-0-2, five points) would finish atop Group C and play the Group D runner-up in Rustenburg on Saturday.
The winning goal sequence started on an Algerian shot that goalkeeper Tim Howard saved. Howard immediately threw the ball to an open Donovan on the right wing and the midfielder sprinted down field. He eventually found Jozy Altidore in front. Altidore took a shot that goalkeeper Rais M'Bohli saved just ahead of Clint Dempsey, who fell over the 'keeper into the net.
The rebound, however, went straight to an onrushing Donovan, who buried the shot from six yards for his second goal of the competition.
The U.S. bench erupted as they buried Donovan in an avalanche of players at the left corner flag in celebration.
England (1-0-2, five, +1), which defeated Slovenia, 1-0, finished second by virtue of the fact that the Americans scored more total goals (four).
With former President Clinton among the 35,827 spectators at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, the U.S. did just about everything but score in the second half.
U.S. coach Bob Bradley took a risk by giving defender Jonathan Bornstein his first World Cup in place of Oguchi Onyewu, who had played the USA's first two matches. Bornstein, a left fullback, is prone to mistakes and giving away penalty kicks at the international level.
With Bornstein on the left side, team captain Carlos Bocanegra was pushed into the middle to pair with Jay DeMerit.
In place of Robbie Findley, Bradley opted for Herculez Gomez, although the name of Edson Buddle was bandied about as a potential partner with former Red Bulls forward Altidore. Altidore missed Tuesday's practice session with a stomach ailment, but was obviously fit to play.
Like their previous two matches, the Americans got off to a slow start. Unlike those two games, the U.S. did not surrender an early goal.
The Desert Foxes had the first legitimate chance in the game, when forward Rafik Djebbour got a step on Steve Cherundolo in the penalty area and cracked a 12-yard shot off the crossbar in the sixth minute.
Barely a minute later, the Americans had their initial opportunity when Gomez forced M'Bohli to made a two-handed save to deny his drive.
Gomez then volleyed a shot in the box over the net in the 17th minute.
The U.S. thought they had grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute as the Algerians had trouble clearing the ball after taking it away from Michael Bradley at the top of the box. Gomez took an eight-yard shot that M'Bohli knocked away. The rebound came back to Gomez, who sent a short pass to Dempsey on the right. Dempsey tucked home the rebound, but assistant referee Peter Hermans of Belgium ruled that Dempsey was offside.
According to TV replays, Demspey was barely offside.
The U.S. showed frailty in the backline, particularly Bornstein's side, where some of the Desert Foxes' attacks became an adventure for the Chivas USA player.
When the Americans went on attack, they experienced major problems penetrating the Algerian defense, which had as many as nine players behind the ball.
Dempsey managed to penetrate in the 34th minute, but M'Bohli stopped his attempt.
After M'Bohli knocked away a Landon Donovan attempt in the area, Jozy Altidore seemed to take a scoring chance away from the veteran midfielder, taking his shot just before Donovan could attempt his. The ball sailed high over the bar.
In an attempt to shake things up, Bradley pulled Gomez at the half for Benny Feilhaber and moved Dempsey alongside Altidore up front.
Dempsey had another close encounter in the 57th minute as his point-blank shot off an Altidore feed from the left side bounded off the right post. Dempsey then put his follow-up shot out of bounds.
With the U.S. desperately needing a goal, Bradley replaced midfielder Maurice Edu with Buddle in the 65th minute, giving the team three forwards.
Buddle almost made an impact three minutes later as M'Bohli was forced to save his six-yard header.
After Madjid Bougherra fouled Altidore some 24 yards out on the left side, Donovan sent in a free kick that Michael Bradley headed over the net in the 74th minute.
After yet another Algeria foul set up another American free kick, Bradley forced M'Bohli to punch out his 24-yard shot to set up a corner kick in the 79th minute.
In one last ditch effort to boost the American attack, DaMarcus Beasley was inserted into the game for Bornstein at left back in the 81st minute.
The U.S. had one last chance to to score after Medhi Lacen tackled on onrushing Altidore for a yellow some 35 yards out. However, Dempsey boomed the ensuing free kick well over the crossbar in the 84th minute.