While the two ties each earned the US a point in the standings, the meaning of each match was different.
The match with England had all the buildup. The buzz around the team was growing. We wanted to believe in US Soccer, so our hopes got inflated.
Even people who think soccer was invented in England decided to watch so they could see us beat the limeys like we did in the Revolutionary War.
In reality, we should have been praying for a tie.
We were reminded early on against England that we are still learning the craft.
Then, the "flub."
The mishandled ball that allowed us to tie the match should not overshadow the effort we put forth before and after that goal was scored by Dempsey.
We might not have fully deserved the tie on talent, but we earned it on both sides of the ball. England was on the same pitch as us for 90 minutes and didn't win.
The Slovenia match represented something different.
Instead of being thankful for the tie against England, we started to feel like the US could have won that match, specifically on Altidore's deflected shot off the post. We talked ourselves into being the top team in the group again.
We were going to take care of Slovenia, the only question was by how much.
Then, in the beginning of the game, the US players looked slow and the passing looked uncomfortable.
And, before we knew it, we were down by two goals at the half.
One goal wasn't enough to wake us up. Would the prospect of not making it out of the group be enough motivation?
In the second half, the US lineup was changed and the team fought back. They improved. They finally reached a point where they were playing to their abilities, particularly on the offensive end.
Donovan's early goal was vital. Bradley's equalizer saved our World Cup.
Would the US stop there and succumb to relief?
During an urgently played finish, we had many chances at goal and one that should have been the winner.
Only the officiating held us back. Edu's goal was a goal.
A comeback from two goals down is difficult and rare, but winning would have been huge. Still, the finish taught us something.
Going into the match with Slovenia, we might have had an inflated sense of the team.
After the match, we know that the US should be better than Slovenia. We just need to learn how to play the whole game.
Then we might get to see what it feels like to play with a lead.
Here's to Algeria!
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!