[USA-ALGERIA] Has there ever been a more dramatic goal in U.S. history? Landon Donovan scored in stoppage time and gave the USA a 1-0 win over Algeria that sent it into the second round of the World Cup as the Group C winner. Here's what we liked and didn't like about Wednesday's game ...
(Note: The USA-Algeria match will be re-aired Wednesday night as an “Instant Classic” on ESPN Classic at 6 p.m. ET and ESPN2 at 10 p.m.)
What we liked ...
-- Landon Donovan's goal 45 seconds into stoppage was the latest goal the USA has ever scored in the World Cup and will go down as the most dramatic goal in U.S. history. It was fitting that the U.S. star on whom there was the most pressure came through with a goal. Donovan scored to the far post from seven yards following a darting run into the box after Algeria's superb goalie, Rais Bolhi, failed to hold to a shot from Jozy Altidore to Clint Dempsey on the doorstep. The goal came after, it must be said, what had been a rather quiet game from Donovan.
-- The dramatic manner by which the USA qualified is the kind of moment American soccer has always sought. It was certainly in sharp contrast to the manner the Americans qualified eight years ago -- falling to Poland, 3-1, but advancing when Park Ji-Sung's goal for South Korea eliminated Portugal.
-- The result marked the first time in 80 years the Americans have won and gone unbeaten in their group. It set up a game against Ghana, the Group D runner-up, on Saturday on ABC at 2:30 pm ET.
-- The Americans piled on the pressure against the Desert Foxes, finishing with twice as many shots (22) as fouls (11). Altidore had only one of the 22 shots but was again a force throughout the game in the U.S. attack, taking on defenders. On the winning goal, he stayed onside to take Donovan's pass and play the ball into the box.
-- Tim Howard earned only the USA's second shutout at the World Cup in 60 years, but it was his distribution that was the difference in the game. He made a quick release to Donovan after saving Rafik Saifi's weak header from close range.
What we didn't like ...
-- Once again, the USA had what appeared to be a valid goal disallowed. Dempsey scored on a pass from Hercules Gomez but was called offside in the 20th minute. On replays, the Fulham striker appeared to be even.
-- Can you ever remember the USA missing more chances? Dempsey had 10 shots but couldn't score. He hit the post in the second half and then put the rebound wide of the goal.
-- Finally, the USA didn't give up an early goal but it was sure close. Forward Rafik Djebbour, the lone change in the Algerian lineup, hit the crossbar in the 6th minute.
June 23 in Pretoria
USA 1 Algeria 0. Goal: Donovan 91+.
USA -- Howard, Cherundolo, DeMerit, Bocanegra, Bornstein (Beasley, 80), Donovan, Bradley, Edu (Buddle, 64), Dempsey, Gomez (Feilhaber, 46), Altidore.
Algeria -- Bolhi, Bougherra, Belhadj, Yahia, Halliche, Lacen, Matmour (Saifi, 85), Ziani (Guedioura, 69), Yebda, Kadir, Djebbour (Ghezzal, 65).
Yellow Cards: USA -- Altidore 62, Beasley 90; Algeria -- Yebda 12, Yahia 76, Lacen 83, Yahia 90+3.
Red Card: Algeria -- Yahia 90+3.
Referee: Frank De Bleeckere (Belgium).