Proof positive that soccer can be exciting. All it took was a U.S. goal in extra time in the second half of an elimination match in the world’s biggest tournament.
“This team embodies what the American spirit is about,” Donovan said. “We had a goal disallowed the other night, we had another good goal disallowed tonight. But we just keep going. And I think that’s what people admire so much about Americans. And I’m damn proud.”
Former President Bill Clinton lingered in the locker room for 45 minutes after the game to congratulate the players. When Donovan scored, raucous cheers erupted on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and even in White House auditoriums in Washington, D.C., according to e-mails sent to U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati…
“I’ve been through a lot in the last four years,” Donovan said half an hour after the end, crying and his voice cracked. “I’m so glad it culminated this way. When you try to do things the right way, it’s good to get rewarded.”
How much buzz did the ending of this match generate? Dude.
Rather than just show you the winning goal, I’m going to make you watch the match highlights so that you’ll know how many agonizing near-misses the U.S. endured until Donovan finally struck. But then, it’s been that kind of tournament: One minute they’re gifted with a tie thanks to a keeper’s gaffe, the next minute they’re robbed of a win by a ref’s call on a phantom foul. (In fact, as you’ll see, they were robbed of another goal in this one.) In the end — the very, very end — it all evened out and they won Group C, their first group win since 1930.
Oh, their opponent in Saturday’s “round of 16” elimination contest? We’ll know within the hour, but it could be Serbia, Ghana, or … Germany. Gulp. Click the image to watch.
Update: How costly was Rob Green’s muffed save against the U.S. in the first match? The tie allowed the U.S. to win the group, which means they face the second-place team in Group D in the next round — which turns out to be Ghana. England, as the second-place team in Group C, plays the winner of Group D — which turns out to be Germany. Good luck, Britons!