The United States beat Algeria 1-0 on a stoppage-time goal from Landon Donovan. The goal was, perhaps, the biggest in American soccer history. It cemented the U.S. a place in the knockout round as winners of Group C. Here are five quick thoughts on the match.
Resilience: USA had a goal incorrectly ruled offside. They missed chance over chance. But, unlike their cousins across the pond, it did not rattle them. The Americans kept coming. They left things a little hairy, but were finally rewarded. You can’t question this U.S. team’s willingness to fight. Though, you wonder why they put themselves in a position where they have to so often.
Balls Out: Bob Bradley has faced criticism for being too conservative, but give him credit here. In the defining match of his tenure, he dangled and went for it. He left the game open. He threw on attackers. He let his players decide it on the field. In short, he was the anti-Domenech. He was the goat if it backfired, but it worked. Well played. Now, if only we could find him a suit.
Great Performance: The U.S. team did not need a hat-trick from Jozy Altidore. They have players who can finish. They needed him to focus, to battle and to hassle defenders with his physical presence for 90 minutes. He did it. He was so great you can forgive him the defender’s finish on the chance in the first half.
Solidity: Germany, Serbia or Ghana. It does not matter. The U.S. must be more stable at the back. Even before they went all in, they left Algeria chances a better team would have converted. With or without Onyewu, the back four is slow. They don’t have adequate coverage when Michael Bradley bombs forward or overcommits. Whether it’s positioning, personnel or an extra midfielder, they must resolve this issue to progress.
Attitude: Perhaps the one disappointment from today, was the American players attitude. Undoubtedly, it was an emotional win, but what was with the tears and the excessive celebrations? USA has advanced here before. Americans have reached the quarterfinals within the past decade. Was advancing to the knockout round not the minimum expected from this team? Unless they get Germany, the U.S. should have an attainable route to the semifinal. Are they satisfied not to have failed, or are they focused on going further?
[Photo via Getty]