We talk about the USMNT win, the tennis marathon — and how ESPN handled the event — and the NBA draft, including the Washington Post story on John Wall. But really, this is about soccer. I don’t usually do this, but here’s my post from The Sporting Blog. I’d like to have it here as well, but please click the link to give them the credit.
U.S. To Face Ghana In Second Round After Donovan’s History-Changing Strike
It’s not an overstatement to claim that Landon Donovan’s amazing extra-time goal against Algeria is the most important goal in the history of American soccer. Let’s be honest, there’s not a very long list of candidates. The United States victory over Mexico in the second round of the 2002 World Cup may have been a bigger win, but neither goal in the match can even come close to the drama of Donovan’s 2010 strike.
There’s a case to be made that the own-goal by Colombia’s Andres Escobar, helping the United States advance to the second round of the 1994 World Cup, was the most important, but let’s have our best moment be a goal by one of our own players.
And 1950? I’m sick and tired of hearing about 1950. Sure, the U.S. shocked the world and defeated England in the 1950 World Cup. What else happened? Yes, they lost both of their other matches and bombed out of the tournament, needing forty years to figure out a way to qualify again. Forty. Years.
Donovan’s strike did not win the World Cup for America, so our celebrations should be rather mitigated at this point. In fact, after some terrible backline mistakes in the first two matches, an inability to finish in all three matches and some very questionable calls in the last two, the goal really only did for the United States what we expected them to do all along: advance out of the group.
The U.S. will face a very tough Ghana team on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET and will undoubtedly be facing a hostile crowd as Africa’s remaining hopes in the Cup now lie with the Ghanaians. England, who finished second in Group C will face Germany, who wins Group D with today’s victory over Ghana. That match will be Sunday afternoon.
So no, Donovan’s goal didn’t win the 2010 World Cup, and there is still a lot of work to be done for that to happen. Should the U.S. beat Ghana they’ll face the winner of Uruguay and Korea, another entirely winnable match. That would put them in the semifinals, likely against a team like Brazil or the Netherlands. Today didn’t come close to winning the 2010 World Cup, no matter how much it felt that way. But here’s the thing, today’s win very well may have won the 2022 World Cup for America.
The 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids will be awarded in December, and with the United States bidding for both, the chances of winning one of the bids increases with every match the United States win this year. No, the result on the field doesn’t actually factor in to the bid process – the top competitors for the 2022 bid are Australia and two countries that didn’t qualify for this year’s tournament – but the nationwide interest in soccer and the immense television ratings for ESPN are incredibly important.
Had the United States bowed out of the World Cup with three ties, the interest level in the next few rounds would drop in half. Now, by not only moving to the second round, but by winning the group, the interest will surely grow heading into this weekend’s match. With increased interest, another 12 years to build toward the World Cup in 2022, the United States could – I stress could – develop a serious pipeline for international soccer. It’s not unreasonable to think that the host country could be a favorite to win that tournament.
And yes, I’m getting ahead of myself. It was just one goal. But remember today when the bids are announced later in the year. If the United States gets the 2022 (or even 2018) World Cup, today was a huge reason why. Some ten year old kid out there who watched today’s match and ran outside to re-enact that goal over and over again in his backyard…he might just be thanking Donovan in 12 years.