Landon Donovan buried a rebound from a Clint Dempsey shot in stoppage time to give the U.S. a dramatic 1-0 win over Algeria today.
The victory, which came after the U.S. had missed multiple scoring chances and had another goal disallowed by a refereeing error, vaulted the team into the knockout stage of the World Cup just moments before they would have been eliminated by a tie.
When Lando hit net, the venue where Team Backpost was watching exploded, and the woman standing next to us took a shot to the nose in the ensuing melee. She was bleeding—and smiling—for 20 minutes afterward.
We are tracking down video and/or photo evidence of this, but in the meantime, here is a small sampling of the email/text correspondence flying in and out of Backpost HQ before, during, and after the match (all times EST):
RefBaiter: “Gooch is out. I am surprised. Bornstein scares the poop out of me.”
ChaseTheGame: “I don’t get Gomez. Seems better as sub. Why doesn’t Holden get more love?”
Espo: “Is anyone else nervous?”
KEEP: “Going on record: I like the move to sit Gooch.”
Mr. Law [10:06]: “Crossbar! Nearly the third early goal allowed in a row!”
DoubleD [10:07]: “Can we please keep it tight at the back? Please?”
RefBaiter [10:22]: “Gomez! Cmon.”
Addick [10:22]: “Wow! Another bad call!! Really painful (and Gomez should have buried first chance, too).
Mr. Law [10:25]: “They’re getting us back for eight years of Bush.”
KEEP [10:39]: “I hate soccer.”
SimonSays [10:44; from England]: “You’re just watching the wrong game in this group!”
Mr. Law [10:47]: U.S. looks better than Algeria, but Algeria counters quick…could catch us.”
Monkey Man [11:02]: “Get Holden in here for Edu.”
WarrenG [11:04]: “Feilhaber in for Edu.”
StrikerLiker [11:15] “Snakebit USA.”
RefBaiter [11:16]: “Ready to vomit.”
Monkey Man [11:17]: “Painful.”
StrikerLiker [11:23]: “Cmon Buddle! Do it for New Rochelle, baby!”
Seize-a-Bull [11:50] Y-Y-YES!!! Altidore! Dempsey! DONOVAN!!
HillTopper [11:50]: “WOW!!!”
MacDaddy [11:52]: “Holy S***!”
Mr. Law [11:55; hasn’t taken a drink in three years]: “I’m drinking again!”
KEEP [11:57]: “I love soccer.”
Clearly, this team makes its fans suffer—but maybe the wins are sweeter that way.
Three final thoughts:
Man of the Match
This has to go to Donovan for hitting the winner, but Michael Bradley is a close second, just ahead of Tim Howard.
Much as he was in the second half against Slovenia, Bradley was a beast out there today—clogging passing lanes, making great touches in tight spaces and surging forward through midfield. Quality performance for the coach’s son—again.
Howard was his usual rock-solid anchoring self, and he started the game-winning play with a superb long throw to Donovan on the right wing.
Jozy Altidore also had a good one—pretty good holding the ball up top, and always a handful for the Algerian backline, especially in the second half, when he drew several free kicks in dangerous areas.
Great, Impossibly Dramatic Win, But …
The U.S. is unbeaten in three games, but has yet to put together a solid, sound, 90 minutes of soccer. They nearly conceded a goal in the sixth minute today, when Algerian forward Rafik Djebbour thumped the crossbar, and there were too many gaps and defensive lapses—the kind of mistakes that a better opponent will punish.
Lando On the Verge?
Donovan’s goal against Slovenia was massive—it jumpstarted the U.S. comeback and it was a great, sheer-will-to-win moment—and his goal today was the most dramatic tally in U.S. soccer history, making his team World Cup group winners for the first time since 1930. And yet he, like the team, has yet to produce an excellent overall performance.
If that changes in the knockout stage, the U.S., as Donovan said in his postgame interview, is “not done yet.”