Wednesday, June 23, 2010

30-Day Challenge Day - 12: GOOAAALLLLL!!!

It was epic, it was gripping, and it definitly gave you a feeling in the pit of your stomach. For 91 minutes it was a stressful issue. Once again team USA was dealt an unfair blow from a referee on a bogus offsides call nullifying a goal in the early part of the game. Throughout the game flurry and flurry of near misses on shots from the US team gave one the encroaching feeling of dread. It was literally win or go home.

See, the US team had not been beaten in pool play, however they had two ties without any wins. In their previous game they completed a miracle comeback to tie the game 2-2 later. Moments later they seemingly took the lead in unimaginable fashion. Then it happened, a lame-duck call made incorrectly from an official took the game-winner away from the US squad and left a bitter, bitter taste in the mouths of sports fans across all 50 states. The team from the colonies was still alive to move on, but the margin would be tight.

As the clock in today's game reached the 90th minute, the officials held up a time board. They were adding four minutes of stoppage time. Four minutes of borrowed time and life for the states. It was now or never. However Algeria made a fantastic break toward the US goal and sniped a shot to the right side of the net. Tim Howard, the US netminder, struggled to corrale the laser-line shot, but he stopped it. With no hesitation he threw the ball forward to Donovan. With two teammates with him on his wings he quickly paced the ball down the field and set up a great opportunity.

Rais M'Bolhi, the Algerian netminder sprawled on the grass to stop the ball. He couldn't hold the rebound, which trickled out a good couple yards from his arms. A trailing Landon Donovan streaked in before the ball could be cleared from the crease and laid it into the back of the net. The US squad killed off the remaining couple minutes of extra time and at the 94' minute mark it was official; they would move on to the round of 16.

Three minutes from ultimate disaster and failure, a leader found a way to get it done and put his team on his back. I have always respected and understood soccer, and this is why. It can be a gripping and tense sport. Let's hope for a few more wins from that team from the colonies.

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