World Cup post-game: Slovenia 2, U.S. 2
Michael Bradley scored with eight minutes left in regulation time to help the U.S. earn a 2-2 draw with Slovenia Friday in Johannesburg at the FIFA World Cup.
The main storyline
Where there was despair, there is now hope for the Americans. And where there was joy, there is now a sense of disbelief for the Slovenians.
A topsy-turvy spectacle with more plot twists than a Hollywood blockbuster led to a wave of conflicting emotions for both sets of players within the space on 90 minutes, while at the same time producing the most entertaining match of the tournament thus far.
Down 2-0 after 42 minutes, the U.S. scored a pair of second-half goals to complete an incredible comeback and revitalize their World Cup hopes.
For the longest time in this memorable encounter it looked as though Slovenia would become the first nation at this tournament to book its place in the round of 16 thanks to goals from Valter Birsa and Zlatan Ljubijankic.
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But after a pretty lifeless opening 45 minutes, the Americans woke up and began to ask questions of the Slovenian defence, with Landon Donovan scoring in the 48th minute to make it a one-goal game.
The U.S. surged forward only to be repelled each time. With time winding down, Slovenia looked to have things wrapped up, but the Slovenians failed to clear a ball played into their box before it fell to the feet of Michael Bradley who slammed it home.
Former Toronto FC star Maurice Edu appeared to have scored the winner a few minutes later for the U.S., but the goal was controversially negated by the referee on a questionable call.
No matter. U.S. coach Bob Bradley will be proud of his team, and his son who netted the equalizer, which showed great heart in erasing a two-goal deficit. And while Slovenia might feel as though it threw away the game, it is still in a good position to move on to the second round.
Turning point of the game
Donovan's strike from close range early in the second half made a game of it and breathed new life into an American team that looked comatose up until that point.
What this result means
Slovenia sits in first place with four points ahead of the U.S. (two points), England (one point) and winless Algeria. The English play the Algerians later on Friday.
Slovenia controls its destiny going into the final slate of games in the group stage, as it can advance to the second round with a victory (and possibly a draw) against England.
Despite its amazing comeback against Slovenia, the U.S. still needs to beat Algeria in its final match to have a realistic chance of moving on.
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Man of the match
Donovan spearheaded the American comeback, scoring the U.S.'s first goal and running himself into the ground for his team's cause.
Goal of the match
With three minutes left in the first half, Milivoje Novakovic fed a perfect pass to Ljubijankic, who beat the offside trap and snuck behind the flat-footed American defence before sliding the ball under sprawling goalkeeper Tim Howard.
The American perspective
"I still don't know why the goal [from Maurice Edu] was disallowed." — coach Bob Bradley
The Slovenian perspective
"We lost our concentration in the second half and the Americans benefited from that. We were ahead of the United States but we didn't overcome this pressure." — coach Matjaz Kek
Slovenia takes on England in Port Elizabeth on June 23 (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 9:30 a.m. ET), while the U.S. meets Algeria on the same day in Pretoria (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 9:30 a.m. ET).