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World Cup: USA’s glass case of emotion

That was entertaining. I still don’t know how I feel. That is the only way I can describe it. I have to try to look at it as an objective observer. Sadly I am not very objective. It has been three plus hours since the final whistle blew on the USA draw against Slovenia and I still don’t have my emotions in check.

• I’m disappointed the U.S. didn’t win the game against an inferior team.
• I am thrilled with the way the team played in the second half and that they were able to gain a draw, one point, and the ability to control their destiny in their final game.
• I am angry with the play in the first half to the point of wanting to throw things.
• I am delighted with Jozy Altidore and his physicality.
• I am confused at why Clint Dempsey seemed to disappear.
• I am ecstatic that Landon Donovan showed why he should be considered a world class player.
• I am enraged with Malian referee Koman Coulibaly who called a ghost foul on the United States. On what would have been the go ahead goal for the Starred Eagles. (I’m keeping with it. Lets get this going. Someone make shirts.)

Rarely in a sporting event do I ever have so much emotion. I try to pride myself on being even keeled when it comes to watching sports. I know they are just games and in the grand scheme of things they don’t matter, but the World Cup brings out that extra little bit of patriotism that makes me more passionate. This game had me all over the place.

To be straight forward with it, the American’s defense was horrible in the first half. They were flat footed and had no energy what so ever. Ogechi Onyewu made two mistakes that helped allow both goals. It is not totally on his shoulders but he looked bad. He was not a presence at the back at all.

The USA dominated the game. They held the ball, they pushed up, they had great chances. Even in the first half they had plenty of opportunities to score and just couldn’t finish. Michael Findley looked lost and overwhelmed. He made some very poor choices.

Let’s forget the first half, not just because it makes my stomach churn, but because the game was decided in the second half. The U.S. came out strong and fast. Head coach Bob Bradley probably threatened family members in the locker room at half time. (Which easily could have happened because his son, Michael Bradley, starts in central midfield for the Americans.)

The USA needed a win (I wrote about it here Thursday) and they actually came out in the second half like they knew that. As opposed to the first half when they decided they wanted to watch some Eastern Europeans show them how to finish chances. Landon Donovan made one of those runs where he just has a ton of space and Slovenia just gave it to him. He waltzed into the box and fired a howitzer at the Keepers head that actually hit the top netting. A brilliant strike by Donovan. The best thing about the goal is it came in the 48th minute. It was early enough that the USA could start really thinking about evening the score and possibly winning the game.

The US kept the pressure and Donovan served a ball in to Jozy Altidore, who used his size to head the ball down, and Michael Bradley made his dad proud by punching in the equalizer. There were two great plays and one lucky one on this goal as Donovan’s service and Altidore’s header were both great shows of skill, while Michael Bradley toe poked a ball that easily could have gone over the net, but instead dipped and dropped in just under the cross bar.

At this point I was jumping up and down screaming my head off and hugging a few friends/co-workers I was watching the game with. All of the frustration from the first half was gone. We were all square, and now we can look for the win. A few more good chances for the US, and then the turning point.

Donovan gets a free kick that he places perfectly on the back post and Maurice Edu buries it with confidence. I started yelling and pumping my fists just like Edu. And then the ref was pointing at a spot in the penalty area. All the air had been sucked out of me. I didn’t know what to do. I watched the replay. I watched it again. I TIVO’d back to watch the play in real time again. Then I watched the replays. There was no foul. No one was offside. The Slovenians were getting closer to the American strikers than a 9th grader at prom with a senior when “Every Rose Has A Thorn” comes on.

I waited nervously for the game to end. Please don’t let the US blow the come back and lose. Luckily that was not the case. But once the game ended, I didn’t know what to do.

The US should have won. They didn’t. I was sad.

The US should have lost. They didn’t. I was thrilled.

I know ties are supposed to be like kissing your sister, but I have no idea how describe this one. I’ll just leave it at: It was entertaining. It was everything you look for in a great game, and nothing you want to see your team go through. I think I will know how to react after the US plays Algeria on Wednesday. If they get through, I’ll probably talk about the great comeback the US had to keep the dream alive. If they are done after the group stage again, I’ll talk about how they were robbed by the refs. I’ll just have to deal with it either way. But at least I was entertained.

Please send any comments or questions to Also listen to Kyndra de St. Aubin and myself talk a little about what we expected from the US/Slovenia game .