Many football fans around the world, when they think of football, do not immediately associate it with USA. The game just doesn’t seem to fit in with American sports. American football, basketball, hockey: superhuman men playing at a level that is untouchable to us mere humans. If you’re not 6’6 at minimum and you don’t weigh 270 pounds, you just won’t make it at the top level in most American sports. And then in steps the beautiful game, the one that has swept the globe up in World Cup fever. The one that creates an atmosphere unlike any other. The one that unites nations, the one that makes everything better. The one, unfortunately, that Americans have not fully taken to.
USA were out-played in the first half against Slovenia. At half-time, I turned to a friend and said, ‘Are USA as hopeless as France? I don’t even feel like they have enough to grab a goal here.’ Literally minutes later, I was proved wrong. The unbelievable thing isn’t the comeback, the unbelievable thing is how very American it all was. We all think of great American sports folklore in the form of Rudy Ruettiger who made it at Notre Dame playing American football against all odds. We think of Rocky Balboa, who came from nothing and rose above the competition. We think of Bull Durham and Field of Dreams. We think of Michael Jordan and we think of Lance Armstrong. Now, if this team of Yanks representing USA at the World Cup can come up with a big win against Algeria, they should be included in that mythical American sports folklore.
While many placed so much importance on beating England on the field, and the magnitude of that match, it ended in a draw that would not have grabbed the attention or the headlines for very long in mainstream America. After USA’s comeback against Slovenia, though, the seeds are planted and the root is growing for USA to beat Algeria and knock England out of the tournament.
You’ll be asking, though, how is this at all possible? USA, who are on 2 points, will play Algeria, who are on 1. England, on the other hand, are on 2 points as well, and will play Slovenia, who are on 4 points. Now, if USA can handle their part and get a win against Algeria, preferably a win that includes a few goals, they will be in a great position to top their group and qualify for the knockout rounds. England, who have only scored one goal in two games, don’t look very likely to pull off a win against Slovenia. Should Slovenia beat England, or even grab a point from the Three Lions, England will be eliminated and Slovenia and USA will advance from the group.
While it is not the most dramatic way of beating the big boys and upsetting the odds, it will certainly live on in the memory of us USMNT supporters. Of course, England could still go through the group if they grab the win against Slovenia, but anything is possible.
USA, by all accounts, should be on 4 points after today’s match after Maurice Edu’s dramatic late goal should have won them the game against Slovenia. Despite the win slipping from their hands, the comeback was fantastic and inspiring. Confidence will soar in the American camp, and coach Bob Bradley will be encouraging his players to take advantage of their situation and secure qualification against Algeria. Taking England’s qualification place will not be on their minds, though, as it will only serve to distract them. But certainly for us fans, while qualification is the primary objective, making England take the early flight home will most definitely be in the back of many minds.