photo by Joe Toth/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
If the U.S. national team's World Cup opening draw against England was a test of its character, the match against Slovenia was a final exam.
After falling behind, 2-0, to goals from Valter Birsa and Zlatan Ljubijankic, the United States managed a memorable comeback draw in its second Group C match.
Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley each netted second-half goals, as the Americans erased another slow start. Donovan became the third American to score in multiple World Cups, rifling home a shot over goalkeeper Samir Handanovic from a tight angle, while Bradley got on the end of a headed pass from Jozy Altidore before knocking the ball into the net in the 82nd minute.
While the 2-2 draw was a good result for the United States considering the circumstances it was in, the game ended in controversial fashion. Maurice Edu got on the end of a Donovan free kick and scored what would have been the go-ahead goal, but Malian referee Koman Coulibaly waved it off for a nonexistent foul.
Bad call or not, the United States' hopes of advancing to the knockout stages are still alive, with a win against Algeria in the final group match all that is needed to do so.
Here are the match highlights, as well as from the rest of Friday's matches:
Algeria holds England to scoreless draw
England may boast a team with some of the best players in the world, but for the second straight game that talent couldn't pull out a win.
England was held to a 0-0 draw by Algeria, leaving the frustrated Three Lions with just two points from two games in Group C.
Facing the possibility of elimination, Algeria stood toe-to-toe with Wayne Rooney and England en route to its first point of the tournament. Despite losing the possession battle, the Desert Foxes put forth an organized defensive effort and even attempted to get forward in search of a goal that never came.
The 0-0 draw leaves both teams with a chance to advance for the Round of 16, although Algeria needs a win and some help in order to progress. The Three Lions, which are facing the possibility of elimination from a group the English media deemed easy, has a couple ways in which it could advance, but a win against Slovenia is the simplest scenario.
Here are the match highlights:
10-man Germany falls to Serbia, 1-0
A first-half red card and a missed penalty kick were Germany's undoing as it lost its first World Cup group stage match since 1986.
In a match with a card-happy referee, Serbia shocked the Germans, 1-0, off a Milan Jovanovic shot in the 38th minute. The goal, which Jovanovic scored from close range, came moments after Miroslav Klose was ejected from the match with his second yellow.
Even with the man advantage, Serbia's defense struggled to keep Germany from equalizing. The Serbians surrendered a penalty kick for the second consecutive match when Nemanja Vidic handled a ball at the hour mark. Goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic stopped the ensuing kick from Lukas Podolski, setting the tone for the remainder of the game as Serbia won its first World Cup match as an independent nation.
Former U.S. youth national team defender Neven Subotic started, played 90 minutes and received a yellow card in the match.
Here are the match highlights:
What do you think of Friday's games? Think the United States-Slovenia match was the best of the tournament so far? Impressed by Algeria? What do you attribute England's struggles to? Think Germany and Serbia will both get out of Group D?
Share your thoughts below.