Wednesday, June 23
Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Tshwane/Pretoria
US vs Algeria
Our last FIFA WORLD CUP 2010 game, our 5th match was in Pretoria. After getting up and going to breakfast at Moemas, we drove the 40 min to Pretoria to the Park N Ride. The drive was pretty easy and we got to the stadium about 2-3 hours before the game. We checked out the FIFA Fan Store where we finally found USA 2010 World Cup scarfs so we purchased two for souvenirs! We walked around the outside of the stadium and checked out a guy doing dribbling tricks and took a photo with the life size display of the 2010 World Cup mascot “Zakumi”. There was a Playstation 3 display set up for fans to pass the time so I took on an Algerian fan. We finally decided to go into the stadium and check out our seats. We were in the upper level about half the way up and directly in the center of the pitch (50 yard line in Football terms). There were probably more Algerian fans than US fans with Algeria being much closer to South Africa than the US is. We may have been outnumbered but the US fan’s were just as loud during the game. As the game kicked off, you got the sense it might be a tense affair. The US needed a win to advance more than likely and it was going to be a long nerve-racking game. The fans next to us were getting the England/Slovenia score on their phone so after 20 min. we knew England was up 1-0. That meant, the US had to win the game to advance to the Knockout stages of the tournament. Every time the US looked like they were going to score, we either hit the post, or the goalkeeper for Algeria would make an incredible save. As time kept ticking in the game, it just seemed like it wasn’t going to be our day. The US continued to attack while the Algerian’s seemed to be playing for a tie which didn’t make much sense. They had to win as well to advance. What happened next will be forever etched into US Soccer fan’s lore when in the 1st min of injury time, Tim Howard saved a shot, threw the ball to midfield right into the path of Landon Donovan, who passed it forward to Jozy Altidore…Altidore then crossed it right into the path of Clint Dempsey who quickly shot at the Algerian keeper who had come out and deflected/saved the shot. As the ball started rolling back into the middle of the penalty box, it was like in slow motion as you could see the ball perfectly rolling toward Landon Donovan, who made no mistake slotting it into the back of the net for the dramatic 1-0 victory and the US fans went into a state of delirium in the stands. It’s a memory I don’t think we will ever forget. It was such a relief when we scored because for the most part we thought we had blown our chance at advancing. In my mind, the score should have been about 3-0 for the US at that point, but up until then we just had no luck on our side. As the final 2 minutes ticked away and the final whistle blew, the players ran onto the field, celebrating with the US fan’s for a good 10 minutes. We stayed in the stadium for 30 min. at least and took pictures with some fans we had sat next to for all 3 US group games. As we left the stadium, there was a huge gathering of US fans in the concourse chanting, singing, running down the corridor with US flags waving.One fan caught our eye in particular, he was a US fan dressed as a soccer cleat?!? It was a great moment for all the fans who had traveled half way around the world to support the team. It’s something I won’t forget for a long time! We drove back to Johannesburg after the game and grabbed a quick dinner from Nando’s and strolled back to the cottage to watch the Germany/Ghana and Australia/Serbia games before we called it a night.