On Friday the United States were able to pull off a dramatic come from behind effort to draw 2-2 against Slovenia. Coming in as favorites, the United States had to work hard to get back into the game, and would have won if not for some controversy on a disallowed goal.
For the first 45 minutes the United States could not muster any of their brilliance they displayed against England. The first wound would be inflicted in the 13th minute after Valter Birsa was left all alone on top of the 18 yard box, firing in a bending shot which would catch Tim Howard completely flat footed.
Having conceded a goal in the first 15 minutes for the second straight game the United States began to push, but would be caught on a counter-attack when Oguchi Onyewu was left standing in the open, allowing Zlatan Ljubijankic to slide in behind him in the 42nd minute to score in a one-on-one chance against Howard.
Going into half-time, the United States was trailing Slovenia, a country of only two million people, by a score of two to nil.
However, the United States would not be undone, and would put on display the best come-from-behind draw of the tournament thus far.
It would be non other than Landon Donovan, America's talisman, that would get the Yanks back in the game. After a long ball was played up the field, a Slovenian defender would have a lapse in judgment by missing the ball, allowing Donovan to gather and dribble into the box. Looking around, America's number 10 could find no open player at the front of goal; instead, he would carry the weight of the team, by going straight up to the Slovenian keeper and blasting a shot through his arms, burying it in the back of the net. The United States was back in the game.
From this point on, Slovenia would feel like they were being sucked in a hole. The Yanks would constantly press, coming close to equalizing numerous times from both Altidore and Donovan, the latter barely missing a cross from Dempsey. Then, in the 82nd minute, American fans around the world would go crazy, as Altidore would send in a header while Herculez Gomez (a sub in the 80th minute) would lead a defender away, allowing Michael Bradley to run onto the ball and blast it into the net, tying the game back up at 2-2.
Both sides would become desperate trying to push forward, and it would be in the 86th minute that a Donovan freekick delivered to Maurice Edu in the box would be scored! Then disallowed. The referee from Mali had called a foul on Edu which, upon further review of the replays, was completely unjustified. Maurice Edu would be guilty of doing nothing but slipping his man, without touching him, to connect with a strong volley. Highlight reels will be showing this one for years to come, as the game will go down as one of the best come-from-behind victory-draw's ever.
“I'm not sure what the call was.” Stated Landon Donovan at the end of the match. “He wouldn't tell us what the call was.”
Coach Bradley, father of Michael Bradley who scored the equalizer was also confused: “We still don't know what the call was for” said the coach, “it's too early to tell so soon after the game.”
Regardless, the United States still came away with an excellent result, keeping them alive in the tournament. Had they lost, they would easily be facing elimination.
This now sets up some different scenarios. Regardless of other results, the United States has to win against Algeria in their final game. Then, if England beats Algeria later today, and then goes on to beat Slovenia, the United States will be through in second. If England ties or loses to Algeria, then ties or loses to Slovenia, the United States would go through in either first or second, depending on goal differential. If England beat Algeria, then tie Slovenia (or the other way around), then the United States will face goal differential against both the English and Slovenia.
Regardless, the game against Algeria is now a must win situation, the rest is up to fate.