USA 1 – Algeria 0 Match Summary

Algeria's Nader Belhadj (R) fights for the ball with Landon Donovan of the United States during a 2010 World Cup Group C soccer match at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria June 23, 2010.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

Needing a win or a tie and an England/Slovenia draw, the United States spent 91 minutes toying with the emotions of their countrymen before finally putting the matter to rest.

1st Half

Algeria came out with the same 3-5-2 formation they used in their first match and, reasonably enough for a first half, were content to counter. They certainly needed every ounce of defensive pressure, as the USA continually threatened their goal. In the 35th, Clint Dempsey started and ended a sequence that looked to give USA a 1-0 lead, but his effort, following a Herculez Gomez shot, was ruled a product of being in an offside position (a decision only Koman Coulibaly would agree with). Shortly thereafter, Donovan fed Dempsey in the box, but the two were unable to produce a goal, as the former’s pass was a bit too hard for a first-time shot and the latter could only manage a weak toe-poke. The near miss theme continued when Bradley and Donovan broke down the Algerian defense, only for Altidore and Donovan to get in each other’s way – preventing either from getting a clean strike.

Algeria was not entirely toothless in attack. They found space along the flanks and just in front of the center backs, creating chances from both spots. Rafik Djebbour had the best opportunity, clanging the post in the 7th.

2nd Half

The second half progressed much as the first, with Algeria, for who knows what reason, continuing to play defensively. As the last place team in the group, they needed goals more than any other squad. Perhaps they were just too overwhelmed by USA’s pressure to do anything else.

The Americans, with Benny Feilhaber replacing Gomez and Dempsey moving up top, continued to fall heart-breakingly close to a goal. Dempsey hit the post and then missed an open net; Bradley had a free kick saved; Donovan saw a cross headed over the bar; Cherundolo put in numerous deliveries that never quite went in; Feilhaber’s pass to an unmarked Altidore was deflected at the last moment; and Edson Buddle (sub for Edu, 64th) somehow failed to get Altidore the ball in front of an open net.

And then – right as the final whistle sounded on a 1-0 England victory – Tim Howard gathered a shot (on one of the few instances Algeria went forward in numbers) and heaved to Donovan. USA’s number 10 scurried down the pitch before laying off for Altidore. The striker discovered Dempsey alone in the box. And while Dempsey’s efforts were thwarted yet again, the ball bounced off the keeper’s hands and Donovan, who had continued his run, used his right foot to put the ball into the net and the USA into the next round.

Come back this afternoon for FFG’s tactical analysis.

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