Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The New American Frontier ~ World Cup 2010


They probably didn't know it.  Or maybe they did.  Which ever the case, America was forced to come away from today's match versus Algeria with a victory.  Today a draw would not suffice.  England and Slovenia were engaged in their match as USA played, and with time winding down.  America, unknowingly, already had their backs against the wall when just yesterday things were being painted in a much prettier picture.  Did they know the England score?  I don't know.  Only Coach Bradley can answer that.

Those of us packing in local pubs and cafes this morning to watch the match knew England maintained a 1-nil lead over Slovenia which forced America into a must win situation if they wanted to advance. 

USA and Algeria sat nil~nil at the half.  Time ticked off too briskly for my tastes as they continued to play to a draw in the second half.  All the pressure was on Team America to score.
They had their opportunities with quality scoring chances..  They also had a goal disallowed.  Yet the score remained nil~nil.  When the clock struck 90:00 there was yet a goal by either side.  Injury time was added on.  Only one minute was added after the first 45 minutes.  I feared the same after full regulation time; a short clock.  If I saw the TV screen correctly from my vantage point, 4 minutes were added.

Four minutes remained for USA to mount one more surge; one more wave; one more comeback.  They've used the comeback to get this far.  They would need another timely and unlikely goal now in order to go farther.  All goals scored by USA in this first round of Group C play have been of the comeback variety.  America had arrived at their new frontier; meeting expectations.  That's right.  This group was picked to advance from Group C along with England.  How special would it be if the Americans could pull out a goal here?  I don't know.  How special can you make a win or go home Group C match?  It would be great though!  Great is nice.  I'll take a great moment here versus deflation should USA not qualify for the next round.  England was off to the next round.  They secured that right. Now USA was in possession of the opportunity to join them.  Regulation was over and they were playing on borrowed time.

In the 91st minute, USA struck! 
The frontier men got their goal, from their USA Soccer Paul Bunyan;

America's All-Time Leading Goal Scorer
stepped up like an All-Time Player does in times of dire straights.
He rose to the occasion like heroes do in your time of need.
He gave USA and us fans our

There's elation and deflation in the stands as USA scores.

Anguishing tears of disbelief shed for her country.

In his words, "This is unbelievable.. ~ We're not done yet!"

He's a player on a team in a sport Americans choose to know little about
but right now the rest of the world knows the name of
Landon Donovan.

That's right Landon; you may have struck the most important goal in USA Football history.
This is the first time since the first World Cup Tournament in 1930
the United States has won their Group outright.
Yes! That was great. 
I also found out how special a Group C win-and-in game can be this afternoon.

Today, I found happiness in an Italian Cafe where Fulton Street meets Lafayette St. 
For me it was the scene of USA's ultimate defeat and elimination from World Cup 2006. 
For this match I returned and departed;

USA!   USA!   USA!


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