I have to say, I’m only slightly surprised at the United States’ 1-0 win over Algeria today. The surprise was not that they ended up winning, but that they didn’t allow an early goal. And it wasn’t for lack of effort. An Algerian striker whose name is irrelevant had a brilliant chance within the first 15 minutes and ended up hitting the crossbar. That was the turning point, because if that goal had fallen, it would’ve changed the tone for the entire match. As it was, the team had to know that they had a chance – they had many chances, in fact. There was another disallowed goal for the Americans, this time a missed offsides call, but we already knew that referees are terrible and that it would take at least two real goals to get enough that counted. Leave it to Landon Donovan to provide a goal at nearly the last possible minute; that’s how we roll.
So with that, the U.S. went from facing elimination to winning the group, and England held on for their own 1-0 win over Slovenia to take second. But England is still a poor squad overall, despite their individual talent. Still, there would have been a lot of disappointed fans around the world if people had to watch Slovenia get slaughtered in the next round. Now the following rounds of the 2010 World Cup will have a lot to live up to to match this level of excitement.