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England was able to do it. Slovenia was able to do it. Algeria hit the crossbar. Today, Ghana was able to do it twice.
The United States kept to its’ usual form Saturday, putting themselves in an early deficit once again this World Cup allowing a Ghana goal in only the fifth minute. The Ghanaians had only scored through penalty kicks in the tournament before U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard made his only mistake of the tournament on Kevin-Prince Boateng’s early goal.
The break was started when Boateng stole the ball from questionable starter Ricardo Clark at midfield. Boateng never gave up the ball as he beat two U.S. defenders downfield before putting it by Howard and in the back of the net. Clark, who hasn’t started the last two games for the United States, was chosen as starter by coach Bob Bradley over Maurice Edu. Bradley allowed Clark a few more opportunities after his mistake but ultimately had to sub Edu in the thirtieth minute.
Once again, the U.S. stars fought back in the second half and tied the game at one in the sixty-second minute thanks to a penalty kick by Landon Donovan. The goal was Donovan’s third of the 2010 World Cup and was set up by a charging Clint Dempsey who was taken down with a slide by Ghana defender Jonathan Mensah in the penalty area to set up Donovan’s equalizer.
The second half continued to be dominated by the Americans with opportunities from Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, and Benny Feilhaber all coming up just a bit short. The U.S. couldn’t get the game winner in regulation and the Ghanaians forced the Americans to try and take their momentum into extra time.
Just as the U.S. had started the game and like they’ve done all tournament, the Americans gave up a goal to Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan in the first minute of extra time to put themselves in another deep hole with their World Cup lives on the line. Gyan scored on a beautiful goal in which he took a deep pass off his chest, layed it down, then fired it over Howard for the eventual game winner.
Just three days after the “euphoria in Pretoria” erupted a nation in soccer fever, dysphoria now fills the hearts of Americans whose last three days have been filled with hope and national pride. The Americans put themselves in one final hole that was too deep for even these gritty Americans to come back from.
The U.S. did not advance as far as they would have liked but the Americans can hold their heads high. In each of their four games the United States’ backs were against the wall and in each game they were able to come back and keep their World Cup hopes alive as long as humanly possible.
Stars such as Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, and especially Landon Donovan all had great World Cups and have made American soccer respectable throughout the world.
While the world now is gaining a little respect for American soccer, the biggest impact the Americans made was in their home country. YouTube videos from all over the world showing multiple parties of Americans celebrating Landon Donovan’s miraculous goal versus Algeria were amazing and showed the true excitement that this team brought to America.
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be the most anticipated World Cup in American history thanks to this team. They didn’t do anything truly miraculous in terms of achievements, but this team set the groundwork for U.S. soccer for years to come.