2010 FIFA World Cup: USA Wants More Than Just Respect
There is no way to describe what happened yesterday.
The United States were able to find the back of the net when all seemed lost.
The Americans were on the verge of elimination when Landon Donovan stepped up. Donovan’s 44th international goal couldn't have come at a better time.
His score in the 91st minute saved the U.S. from suffering the same fate it did four years ago in Germany.
The Americans entered the 2006 World Cup with high hopes.
In 2002, the U.S. upset Portugal, tied South Korea, and escaped the group stage with four points before defeating rival Mexico 2-0 in the second round.
The U.S. went toe to toe with Germany in the quarterfinals, but a set piece score from the Germans ended the Americans best run in a World Cup since 1930.
Last summer, the U.S. made a run to the Confederations Cup final, losing to Brazil 3-2 in a game where they couldn't hold onto a 2-0 lead.
En route, the Americans shocked Spain, the European champions, in the semifinals.
Following the loss to the Brazilians, the U.S. earned respect for its performance, but Donovan wanted more.
“We are in the position where we don’t want respect,” said Donovan. "We want to win.”
Making it past the group round in 2010 was a necessary goal for the USA.
Getting eliminated would have been a setback for a nation looking to leave its print on the world’s stage.
For 90 minutes, the Americans fought desperately, knowing that they needed a victory to keep their dreams alive.
Had their third goal against Slovenia not been disallowed, the U.S. wouldn’t have been anxiously looking for a score against Algeria.
The U.S. built success moderately, beginning with the 1990 World Cup—the Americans' first appearance in 40 years.
Since that point, the U.S. became a fixture at the top of CONCACAF.
The emotional victory over the Algerians advanced the Americans to the second round for the third time since 1990, and they have qualified for each World Cup since.
Only 12 years ago, the U.S. finished dead last in the 1998 World Cup—a disaster showing for the American side.
Yesterday, the Americans not only qualified but also won the group for the first time in 80 years.
For once, the U.S. was favored to defeat both Slovenia and Algeria, a role that is still brand new for this squad.
The Americans look to make it to the quarterfinals for the second time in three years when they face Ghana on Saturday.
Regardless whether the U.S. advances further into the tournament, plenty was proved on the field.
Donovan removed the tag of not stepping up on the national stage, and I’m pretty sure the nickname "Landycakes" will no longer have the same meaning.
2010 could very well be the year that the U.S. leaves a permanent mark on the world’s game—and not just as silly Americans.
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