That’s the slogan that ESPN has been using to promote the World Cup and it couldn’t have been more true today. The United States may have finally staked a claim to being a soccer nation with a dramatic victory over Algeria. The game was easily one of the most exciting and tense soccer matches I have ever watched. I watched the game via ESPN3 in my office with no sound, but the game still held an incredible amount of emotion. I had a knot in my stomach for most of the game, especially after England scored against Slovenia. The US waited until the last possible moment to score the winner. When Landon Donovan pounced on the loose ball in the box and drove it into the net, I jumped out of my chair and ran around the office. As one of my friends tweeted, “Quick. Someone tell me again what a boring-ass, low-scoring, good-for-nothing sport that soccer is.” He couldn’t be more correct.
The win secured the Americans’ place in the round of 16 and top spot in Group C. With their victory, and England’s 1-0 victory over Slovenia both pre-Cup favorites advanced, though both had a bit more trouble than most people would have guessed. Based on the reaction on Twitter to the Clint Dempsey’s disallowed goal and the response when Landon Donovan finally scored the game winner, America has gone soccer crazy. Each game the US wins will only add to this phenomenon.
The US don’t know their round of 16 opponent yet, but they do know where and when they will play. Their round of 16 match, against the 2nd place team in Group D, will be played at Rustenberg’s Royal Bafokeng Stadium at 2:30pm Eastern. Royal Bafokeng Stadium has been kind to the US, it was the site of their 3-0 victory over Egypt in last year’s Confederations Cup and the site of their 1-1 draw with England on June 11. Their opponent could be any team from the Group depending on how the games play out later this afternoon. I think most US soccer fans would like to see Australia beat Serbia and Ghana beat Germany because that would set up a US-Australia game. The US defeated Australia 3-1 in a friendly played on June 5 in South Africa and would likely prove an easier match than Ghana, Germany or Serbia. Group D plays at 2:30 this afternoon and should provide some fun soccer, though nothing will top the US victory. In parting, good luck Socceroos (who doesn’t love Australia’s team nickname), hope to see you in Rustenberg on Saturday.
USA! USA! USA!