Reaching this point required a finish straight out of a Hollywood film in the team's final first round game. Landon Donovan -- widely acknowledged as the greatest soccer player our country has ever produced -- notched the game-winning goal against Algeria in injury time, a scant two minutes before the final whistle.
Had the goal not been scored, the US would have been eliminated from the tournament. With it, the team finished atop their group for the first time since the inaugural World Cup in 1930. It was, perhaps, no less than the United States deserved after having a legitimate goal disallowed by a referee's decision earlier in the game and another in their previous match versus Slovenia. The US finished the first round unbeaten with a win and two draws.
Now the stakes are even higher. Win four more games in a row and Team USA will be World Cup champions for the very first time. Any loss means they come home.
Sat., June 26, 2:20 p.m., 2010