What was supposed to Happen!
By Josh Mulsow
As a former goalkeeper I know from both sides the danger of a 2-0 score in soccer. “All it takes is one,” is something you hear on soccer, football, and baseball field’s everyday across the country. When the USA went down 0-2 to Slovenia in the first half of Friday’s match, my heart sank as I thought about all the time I had invested into this World Cup. After a few of my friends expressed their doubts about whether we could come back, I pondered it myself. Then I remembered what it was like at halftime back when I played, being down 0-2 in soccer is in a way a gift from the Gods. You know if you can just put one in the back of the net, you are going to come out victorious. So with their backs against the wall, and the future fate of soccer in this country on the line, the boys of the USA took the field and began their quest to restore faith.
Landon Donovan came out and established that we were going to attack and “the Chosen One,” delivered. Only minutes into the second half Donovan capitalized on a ball that skipped past his defender, he collected the loose ball, then himself, and unleashed a vicious right footed strike that would have sent the Slovenian keeper into the net, had he not bailed out. And just like that the earth shifted, stars began to align, and the Gods shined down on Johannesburg Africa. The momentum had changed and the red, white, and blue believed they could win. An on-slaught of attacking midfielders became the USA’s method of penetrating the defense, with “Oh, so close,” opportunities every minute. Then the game slowed and began to come to the Americans. Landon played that high cross from the right into Jozy Altidore, who skied above everyone to head the ball down perfectly to a streaking Michael Bradley. The coach’s son, like he had been taught all his life, calmly touched the ball past the keeper and safely under the bar, squaring the match at 2-2. The atmosphere in the stadium sparked to life, along with the American’s spirit and will to win. A comeback like this could change the perception and place of soccer in this country. We, as Americans, need to be the best, it has been ingrained into our blood since we first broke away from England and that desire has burned through the generations.
So with only fifteen minutes left in what was supposed to be the American’s coming out party in this World Cup, the hearts of an entire country beat in unison, as we cheered from our desktops, plasmas, and phones every touch the USA played. Until this moment no one believed we could complete this comeback and win, let alone save our chances to advance to the second round in the 2010 World Cup. Then the opportunity of a lifetime presented itself, a free kick from about thirty yards out on the right flank was awarded. Landon Donovan sent an outward swinging ball into the mixer, with all the pushing, pulling, and shoving going on, it was chaos. From this mess emerged the left foot of Maurice Edu. Edu buried Donovan’s cross in the net to complete the improbable comeback. For a second the rest of the world paused as we became a force on the international stage of soccer. Only to be ripped back to reality as an under qualified ref had a mental lapse in judgment and made a colossal mistake that shattered the dreams of American players and fans alike. The goal was disallowed and Slovenia was awarded a free kick. The referee never said who the foul was on and the speculation unfolded. The game ended in a 2-2 tie, and now the USA will have one more game on Wednesday to prove that we deserve to be playing with the best in the world and holding our own.
Friday night was supposed to be soccer’s wedding night. It was supposed to be the night that soccer took center stage. Strangers were supposed to be high fiving in the street. Enemies were supposed to hug out their differences. Friends were supposed to rejoice, as families united. The facelift of soccer in this country was supposed to be complete. It was suppose to be the night when everyone was asking, “Where were you when?” It was supposed to be when the rest of the world wondered, “Have the American’s finally arrived?” Instead the US has a must win game against Algeria on Wednesday. A must win game that carriers with it the necessary weight to mainstream soccer in the USA, and the power to unite a country that has of late been struggling with our own issues. It is going to be a keepsake moment where we put all our baggage aside and band together for 90 minutes, as the USMNT forage the past, present, and future of soccer into one momentous celebration. A celebration all American’s can take pride in and remember.