U.S. wins in 91st minute on Donovan's goal | World Cup
Improbable 1-0 victory over Algeria comes in extra time, gives Americans Group C win and advances them to round of 16.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
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PRETORIA, South Africa — Four years came down to 90 minutes, then 45 minutes.
And then four years of soccer dreams came down to borrowed time, past what was allotted and into what was given.
The moment was now, because now was quickly fading.
More than 1,000 kilometers away, England had beaten Slovenia. The U.S. knew that result and so also knew that a scoreless draw with Algeria was worthless, would end its World Cup earlier than promised.
The Yanks needed a victory, and victory demanded a goal.
For nearly the entire match, the United States pressed forward as if the field were slanted toward Algeria's goal, the ball rolling naturally downfield.
But it wasn't until the 91st minute — an extraordinary moment in extra time — that Landon Donovan slammed home the winner on an open-net rebound, his goal propelling the U.S. to the knockout stages.
Inside Loftus Versfeld Stadium, the U.S. defeated Algeria, 1-0, winning Group C of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The United States is now officially one of the world's 16 best teams.
The goal was Donovan's 44th for the U.S. national team, although none previous compares to Wednesday's, which seemed to sway the ancient stadium in Pretoria and might just alter the future of American soccer.
"If you stay in the game long enough, there are going to be games were you say, 'Maybe it's not our night,' " said U.S. coach Bob Bradley. "But as a coach, you just stay in the game. You keep asking yourself what else you can do to keep giving yourself a chance at the goal. Then, in the end, it's just the players who do it."
It is the first time since 1930 that the U.S. won its World Cup group. On Saturday, the U.S. will play the second qualifier from Group D, Ghana, in the Round of 16.
The match will be played at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, where the U.S. opened its World Cup against England less than two weeks ago.
England also qualified out of Group C, defeating Slovenia 1-0 in Port Elizabeth.
England will play Germany.
If Wednesday's match were judged on superior chances, the U.S. would have been the overwhelming victor as it muffed at least a half-dozen opportunities, and also had a Clint Dempsey goal declared offside in the first half.
"Sometimes we wanted it too much," said forward Jozy Altidore. "We always wanted to be too emphatic with our chances."
For nearly 45 second-half minutes, the U.S. and Algeria engaged in what must have appeared to the 35,000 fans like a ping-pong match, so quickly did each team bring the ball from one end to the other.
"That last 45 minutes wasn't soccer," said U.S. keeper Tim Howard, whose 40-yard toss started the game-winning break. "That was something else. It was a tennis match. It was a track meet."
A tie was equally worthless to Algeria, whose only hope of advancing came with victory.
"Algeria was pushing and we had to take the fight to them," Donovan said. "I'm shocked. I'm so proud of our guys. Unbelievable."
"It is not often you see them lining up on the road before the game, all dressed up and chanting and banging on the bus," Bradley said of the red-white-and-blue fans.
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.