U.S. advances to round 16 of World Cup

On one of the last days of group play in the FIFA World Cup, the U.S. beat Algeria in thrilling fashion to advance to the round of 16.

Literally running on borrowed time in the 91st minute, Landon Donovan scored the winning goal on a goalie deflection.

The United States is used to coming back in games.  They were down 2 goals against Slovenia and tied it, to keep their hopes of advancing alive.  In the qualifying process they scored nine goals, which is more than double any other team in the World Cup.

Area residents who watched the game at a local bar knew the U.S. needed to improve to continue in World Cup play.

“Altidore has to get it in the net, Howards got to play, he’s still a goalie, you can ride a goalie in soccer,” Eric Westra said.

It was the first time the U.S. has won the third game in group play since 1930.  The team was very emotional after the game.  When ESPN interviewed Donovan, he was wiping tears from his eyes. 

“I think they’ve played pretty good so far, they’ve been able to play forward and make a lot of shots that were fairly decent,” Michael Abourbina Jr. said.

If the U.S. had not scored in the final minutes of the game, there would have been controversy over a disallowed goal, that was similar to the goal that was not allowed in the Slovenia game.

Abourbina thought that the referees  have done a good job, except those two important plays.  Westra said he thought there should be more refs on the field.

There have been many surprises in the FIFA World Cup.  On June 20th, Italy tied New Zealand, in what some called one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.  Italy is a football powerhouse and New Zealand had never tied or beaten anyone in World Cup history, until they tied Slovakia on June 15.

Another surprise in the World Cup was England and France not having as much success as most expected.  England barely advanced to the second round by beating Slovenia by one goal.  France completely fell apart. After losing in the World Cup finals in 2006, they failed to even make it to the round of 16.

There also has been some controversy  in the audience. Fans are making noise with the South African Horn called Vuvuzela.  The tradition originated in South Africa around the beginning of the 20th Century. 

Some television stations have asked for it to be banned because of it irritating viewers, while others disagree with taking away the horns because it is taking away an important South African tradition. 

“I don’t think it’s a big deal, I think it’s part of the culture,” Westra said.

The goalies also have struggled throughout the tournament. England’s goalie, Robert Green, let a shot go right through his hands to allow a crucial goal at the beginning of the tournament against the United States.

The teams that most people think will succeed in the round of 16 are Brazil, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands.

Brazil has easily made it through group play.  It is an attack-based team, which makes it one of the more entertaining teams to watch and a favorite to win it.

Abourbine Jr. said he always goes with Brazil when it comes to the FIFA World Cup.

Spain has not been dominating through group play.  It lost one game against Switzerland, but if it plays up to its standards, Spain should contend for the World Cup. It has plenty of stars who can step up and win games.

Portugal started off slow with a tie against the Ivory Coast, but followed that up by beating dominating North Korea 7-0.  It has one of the best players in the World Cup in Christiano Ronaldo. 

But Westra thought Portugal’s chances of making it were shaky.

The Netherlands has a solid group of players.  It has cruised through group play and is considred a dark horse among the group of teams I have mentioned.

As the round of 16 begins, there are a lot teams that could steal a game and send a powerhouse out the door early.