Late Goal Sends U.S. Out of Group C

Donovan's Heroics Rescued the USMNT on Wednesday

PRETORIA, South Africa – Landon Donovan, you are now officially an American legend.

Mere clock
ticks from elimination after 90 minutes of scoreless soccer, the all-time
leading scorer in US national team history buried a rebound off a Clint Dempsey
miss in stoppage time and gave the Americans a dramatic 1-0 victory over
Algeria at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Wednesday.

In an
underwhelming game where they missed chance after chance, the US looked headed
to early elimination. But Donovan’s dramatic strike in stoppage time not only
saw the US advance to the knockout rounds of the 2010 World Cup, they also
finish atop Group C thanks to England’s 1-0 win over Slovenia.

Donovan raced
to the corner flag and was dog-piled by his teammates as the US bench erupted.
The Americans finish the group stage with a 1-2-0 record, their five points
enough to win Group C thanks to England’s win in Port Elizabeth.

The US now
will meet the second-place finisher of Group D on Saturday at Royal Bafokeng
Stadium in Rustenburg.

Early on,
however, it didn’t look good for the US. They got an ugly taste of déjà vu,
nearly giving up another early goal and seeing another strike of their own
waived off in controversial fashion.

In the sixth
minute, Algeria took advantage of some confusion in the back line when Madjid
Bougherra’s long ball was tapped by Karim Matmour to Rafik Djebbour. The
striker trickled free of Steve Cherundolo and suddenly found himself all alone
in front of Tim Howard, but rattled his shot rattled off the crossbar.

That gave the
US some breathing room, and they began to make cautious, controlled build-ups
with the ball. In the 21st minute, the Americans thought they had struck first.
Herculez Gomez grabbed his own point-blank rebound and passed across the box to
Clint Dempsey, who tapped it in. But the goal was disallowed as Dempsey was
ruled offside by a hair in a call that will be discussed heavily in the months
to come.

The Americans
kept trying to create without ceding too much ground, but failed to finish
again and again. In the 37th minute, Jozy Altidore muffed a sitter way over the
crossbar after a nice ball inside the box from Donovan.

After
halftime, Dempsey moved up top in place of Gomez, and he, too, missed an easy
one. In the 57th, he clanged a shot off the right upright after picking up the
ball just outside the box, then put his own rebound over the goal.

Second-half
sub Edson Buddle got into the act, too, heading a corner just wide in the 66th
minute then putting one right at Algerian keeper Raïs M’Bolhi two minutes
later. But despite having the bulk of the chances, the US simply couldn’t put
the ball into the net.

But with time
running out, the Americans finally found their hero. With the US knowing their
survival was on the line, Altidore made a long run up the right side. His long
cross was met by Dempsey, whose shot was saved by M’Bolhi. But trailing Donovan
picked up the rebound for the finish, and bedlam ensued.

Scoring
Summary:

USA – Donovan
(90+1’)

Lineups:

USA: Howard, Cherundolo, DeMerit, Bocanegra, Bornstein (Beasley,
80’), Donovan, Edu (Buddle, 64’), Bradley, Dempsey, Altidore, Gomez (Feilhaber,
45’).

Algeria: M’Bolhi, Bougherra, Halliche, Yahia, Kadir, Yebda, Lacen,
Belhadj, Matmour (Saïfi, 85), Ziani (Guedioura, ‘69’), Djebbour (Ghezzal, 65’).