That’s really all you need to know about the importance of Landon Donovan’s stoppage-time goal to lift the United States over Algeria 1-0 in the third game of Group C play on Wednesday.
Forget about the guy who still waxes poetic for the days when baseball could still legitimately be argued as America’s Pastime. He’s likely 50-to-60-years old or older, and if he’s not, he’s probably not on Twitter anyway.
Sure, the NFL is king, and will be for a while. But that’s beside the point.
If you weren’t one of those people crowding into a bar for a morning happy hour, the four-decade-long Paul Revere call that soccer is coming may have finally been heard — in a virtual world — the moment Donovan’s rebound found the back of the net.
Despite playing well — certainly a lot better than any referee performed — the U.S. was on the verge of a second straight disappointing finish in the World Cup.
But Landon’s Shot Seen ’Round The World not only gave the U.S team life, it handed the team its first group title since in 80 years. Not only that, it’s enabled a country as a whole to embrace a sport that it’s never really card about. Most of us still may not necessarily understand what the “Beautiful Game” is all about and where exactly any of that ambiance comes from, but it doesn’t matter. Now that we’ve got a dog in the fight, it’s game on.
What can’t be lost either is how the Americans got to the knockout round. Scoring hasn’t been enough for the U.S. — it’s had to be scoring without a trace of conflict. Maybe another team has had more goals disallowed at this World Cup than the United States, but has a side had more important goals taken away? Has another team had more good goals overturned with less reason for the whistles?
Not only that, the U.S. has scored a whopping nine goals after the 86th minute in Cup qualifying and tournament play. No other team has more than four.
So when it comes to this U.S. team, it’s not just how they are scoring their goals, it’s when. The team has a Hollywood-esque drama to it, a way about it that draws even the most casual viewer into the fold.
Most importantly, though, the U.S. has Landon Donovan. He may not be our country’s first soccer star, but he’s moving to a status not produced by our shores before. Donovan can stand alone on an international stage and be recognized. That he’s clutch only adds to his growing aura — here and abroad.
And because of him, and because of his goal when all seemed lost for another four years, soccer might truly take the kind of hold in this country that’s been foreshadowed for decades.
Unless it has already.