TEAM USA: WHY NOT WAIT 'TILL LATE....AGAIN!
If someone made a movie with this ending, you'd want your money back. It would seem too contrived. This morning though, in South Africa...US Soccer's Golden Boy scored a golden goal, just in time. Our team was on the brink of a trip home without winning a single one of it's three group games. There was a disallowed goal, again, there was scoring chance after scoring chance, even a Clint Dempsey drive off the goal post...but there was no score until minute 91.
For the not-so-soccery crowd..at the end of the 90 minute time limit on any match, the referee can add more time at his discretion. It's called injury time or extra time and it's based on stoppages that have happened during the match. If a player is hurt and play stops for a minute, the referee can add a minute to the end. Today the referee decided the game had stopped fro three minutes in the 2nd half, and he added three minutes to the playing time. It was enough...with two minutes to spare!
In that 91st minute the US was all but done. The England/Slovenia game was over. A US loss meant a US failure, an early knockout. Goalkeeper Tim Howard had the ball, he threw it, long..and the US surged forward, five of them on the attack. Eventually a shot was stopped but the ball came loose. The ever-alert, never-tired Landon Donovan followed up to slot home the glorious game winner, the goal that sent the US into the next round. Here's a link.
Here are some pictures I took when I had a chance to watch Howard and Donovan play for Everton against Birmingham in the English Premier League in March.
They don't call it the Sweet Sixteen at the World Cup, the use the slightly less inspiring term, "Round of Sixteen"..but there can be no sweeter sixteen in which to find your team on the world stage. Our team is there, just three wins away from the World Cup Final! Let's hope they don't leave it so late to get the next win.
So the US not only won the game, they won the group "C"..their first group win since 1930! That means next they play the runner up in group "D" In this case that's Ghana. Had the US finished 2nd in the group they'd be taking on Germany next. Germany! Ghana will be tough, Germany (even a German team described this time by its own supporters as "lacking enough stars to win the World Cup" ) will be even tougher. Group "C" runner up England is stuck with that task.
So if today's ending feels too contrived for a movie...imagine how "Hollywood" it'll seem if these American comeback kids win the next three to get to the final! Soccer insiders say it's not supposed to happen..but you never know. Soccer insiders aren't always right.
Next step...Ghana, Saturday...USA!
We'll talk again soon.