No. 25: Donovan Sends The States Crazy (South Africa, 2010)
After draws in their opening two games of the 2010 World Cup, the United States Men’s National Team knew that they had a wonderful chance of making it to the knockout stages.
A hard earned 1-1 tie with England was followed up by a pulsating 2-2 draw with Slovenia, a game in which the USMNT rallied from two goals down, with Michael Bradley netting a late equalizer.
There was a prominent spirit emerging in this squad, and those results meant that if talisman Landon Donovan and his team could win their final group game against Algeria, they’d progress to the last-16 as group winners.
The Fennec foxes had failed to score a goal in their opening two games, but they showed plenty of defensive diligence when holding England to a 0-0 draw; enough evidence to suggest they were capable of giving the USMNT a tough time.
And they did exactly that, sitting deep and frustrating the United States throughout the contest. Clint Dempsey thought he’d put the States 1-0 up, but the goal was incorrectly ruled out for offside after Donovan’s square pass. Jozy Altidore also failed to score when the ball dropped to him six yards out.
Dempsey must have thought he’d scored again in the second half, but his effort struck the post and bounced to safety. Frustration was beginning to set in for US.
Time ticked on in the contest, and with England beating Slovenia in the other group game, nothing but a win for the USMNT would be good enough to see them progress.
Bob Bradley’s team probed, pressed and poured forward in the latter stages, but there looked to be no way through for his team, who were beginning to run out of ideas against this stubborn Algeria line-up.
But there was to be a hugely dramatic twist. In the 92nd minute of the game, Jozy Altidore bombed down the right-hand-side crossing to Dempsey who had his shot saved by the superb Raid Ouheb M’bolhi.
The ball dropped to Donovan on the follow up, with the goal at his mercy, six yards out:
What happened next?
The USMNT qualified for the last-16, where they faced crowd favorites Ghana. Another virtuoso showing from Donovan helped the US take the tie into extra time, but they fell foul of a 93rd minute strike from Asamoah Gyan, eventually losing 2-1.
Despite their elimination, the sheer thrill of Donovan’s winner against Algeria caught the imagination of a host of Americans who were previously unsure on the beautiful game.
Here, you can see the unashamed elation from US supporters all around the world:
Donovan’s goal helped raise the profile of soccer in the states, with both the MLS and the college divisions seeing a significant jump in attendances on their respective resumption after the World Cup.
Those following the US this summer will be hoping this team can go some way to replicating the feats achieved by Donovan and co. four years ago.