2010 FIFA World Cup

1 Year Later, How Landon Donovan's Goal Forever Changed American Soccer

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 23:  Landon Donovan of the United States celebrates with teammate Edson Buddle after scoring the winning goal that sends the USA through to the second round during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group C match between USA and Algeria at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on June 23, 2010 in Tshwane/Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Andrew JordanSenior Writer IJune 23, 2011

Exactly one year ago today, on June 23, 2010, US Soccer achieved what is arguably its biggest moment ever. In the first minute of stoppage time in the 2010 World Cup, Landon Donovan pounced on and scored the game-winning goal against Algeria to advance the Americans onto the Round of 16 as the winners of a World Cup group for the first time since 1930.

After Landon Donovan scored his game-winner against Algeria, there was a new massive appeal for the United States National Team that appeared all over the United States.

This appeal was ever-present during the next American match, which was their Round of 16 match against Ghana.

Despite losing 2-1 in extra time to the Black Stars, American soccer certainly reaped the awards of Donovan's goal against Algeria.

Donovan's goal against Algeria was watched by a record 1.1 million people online on ESPN3.com and was watched by 6.2 million people on ESPN, which is an all-time record for any soccer game on ESPN.

In the match against Ghana, an incredible 19.4 million people watched the match and was followed tremendously by millions of people in the United States.

After the United States was eliminated from the World Cup, many people wondered what the impact would be for soccer in this country.

Almost immediately, Major League Soccer saw a bump in attendance. Altogether, there was a four percent increase in attendance for the 2010 season and for the first time in its history, over four million fans visited MLS stadiums.

It also didn't hurt to see stars such as Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez, Blaise Nkufo and Álvaro Fernández join teams throughout the league.

This season, there are two new teams who have joined MLS, the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Portland Timbers.

So far this season, the Whitecaps have drawn an average of 19,307 fans but the Portland Timbers have been covered more this season due to their huge fan presence at Jeld-Wen Field.

So far this season, the Timbers and their supporters (the Timbers Army) have made a huge impression on Major League Soccer, from the national anthem in their first game to their solid play on the pitch.

There has also been the growth of the biggest rivalry in American soccer between the Seattle Sounders and the Timbers.

Major League Soccer was also able to draw more than 70,000 fans to its All-Star Game last summer between the MLS All-Stars and Manchester United.

This season, Manchester United once again agreed to play an All-Star Game with the MLS All-Stars, this time at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.

Outside of Major League Soccer, there was also an increase in the attendance of college soccer matches.

On Sept. 24 of last year, the University of Santa Barbara drew a crowd of 15,896 to Harder Stadium for a match against UCLA, the highest attendance for a regular-season college soccer match since 1980.

Altogether, Santa Barbara, Akron, UConn and Maryland were all able to average more than 3,000 fans per game this season.

Also, a record 35 colleges were able to average at least 1,000 fans per match.

But the biggest story-maker from this last year came in the form of the United States international team.

Following the massive amount of late-night interviews and publicity to the players of the national team, the US came back and played a friendly against Brazil that drew 77,223 people.

In December, the United States found itself in the final ballot to host the 2022 World Cup but lost to Qatar. The loss to Qatar in the World Cup bid angered many American fans and showed the continued enthusiasm for the national team after the World Cup.

In March of 2011, the US drew a record 78,936 people to a match against an Argentina squad that featured Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano, Esteban Cambiasso and Angel Di Maria (among others).

Before the start of the Gold Cup, the US scheduled a friendly against the defending World Cup champions in Spain before starting its Gold Cup campaign.

Despite a loss to Panama, the United States secured advancement into its fourth straight Gold Cup final (which will be played on Saturday, June 25).

Since the World Cup, some new players have joined the squad in Jermaine Jones, Eric Lichaj, Tim Ream and Juan Agudelo (among others) and will certainly be an entertaining side to watch in World Cup qualifying.

In the coming weeks, we will get to see not only the Gold Cup final in Los Angeles that is already sold out and the MLS All-Star Game, but we will get to see the 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany.

Starting on Sunday (and for the United States on Tuesday), this women's World Cup is being viewed as a tournament that the Americans are expected to contend heavily in. The United States Women's National Team has not won a World Cup since 1999.

Due in large part to Landon Donovan's goal, the growth that US Soccer has received has been tremendous and from here, who knows what can or will happen to the sport of soccer in the United States.

Follow me on Twitter! @Andrew_Jordan

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