Slovenia 2 : 2 USA
The USA fought back from a 2-0 deficit to draw 2-2 with Slovenia in a pulsating encounter at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
It was the Americans’ second draw in Group C with Slovenia still leading the group with four points. The later draw between England and Algeria means that all four countries are still in contention for qualification but England will probably now need a win or a very high scoring draw, coupled with a 0-0 between Algerian and the USA to progress.
Both sides made one change for the Group C clash at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park.
Jose Torres came in for Ricardo Clark and Zlatko Dedic was left out for Aleksander Ljubijankic who had replaced him against Algeria.
Slovenia opened the scoring when Valter Birsa drove a long range shot and managed to keep it low after Onguchi Onyewu appeared to duck under it, perhaps assuming it would fly over. Birsa picked it up 30 yards out, dribbled forward five yards and drilled a left foot shot over the AC Milan centre-half and Tim Howard’s left shoulder.
Samir Handanovic punched away a Donovan corner handily minutes later with Clint Dempsey poised to strike as the Americans sought immediate retaliation.
The Slovene keeper wasn’t called upon again until the 36th minute when a Jose Torres right side free kick was walloped straight on goal. Findley was unlucky to be penalised for deliberate handball after a corner from the right, and was even unluckier to be booked. He will miss the next game having been also booked against England.
Miso Brecko denied Donovan a goal when he swept a Dempsey cross away from under the bar as four American forwards approached. Seconds later he was rewarded when Ghent’s Zlatan Ljubijankic doubled the Slovene lead. Replays showed that Steve Cherundolo was playing him onside as he latched onto Milivoje Novakovi?’s excellently timed through ball.
Bob Bradley made two changes at half time. Benny Feihlhaber and Maurice Edu replacing Torres and Findley. It paid dividends. 150 seconds into the second half a long punt up the right midfield channel found Donovan and Bostjan Cesar. The Slovenia defender unaccountably slipped leaving Donovan to hare down on goal at an acute angle. The LA Galaxy forward did superbly drilling it over Handanovic from a narrow angle.
Onyewu was feet away from connecting with a Donovan free kick minutes later as the rampant Americans looked for a remarkable come back. On the hour Howard punched away a Birsa free kick.
Marko Suler only drew a yellow when he bundled over Jozy Altidore in the 68th minute, giving USA a free kick just outside the area. Altidore hit the bobbling ball straight at the keeper on the turn. Slovenia removed the second goalscorer Ljubijankic for Pecnik, before Jokic was booked for a foul on Donovan. Herculez Gomez came on for defender Onyewu as Bradley desperately looked for the leveler with eleven minutes left. Bradley tested Handanovic with a curler shortly after and scored shortly after.
The USA equaliser was deserved when it came. Once more their offence began with the ball in the right hand channel way back from any apparent danger. The lively Altidore nodded down another long Donovan punt from right midfield into Michael Bradley’s path and the manager’s son finished with confidence for the equaliser.
Altidore won a fortunate free kick when falling all over Cesar. From it, Donovan curled the ball inward and Maurice Edu hammered home but the Malian referee Koman Coulibaly had already blown for a foul. Replays left observers none the wiser as to what offence had been committed.
Zlatko Dedic came on for the other scorer Birsa with three minutes to go. Pecnik could have won the game for Slovenia but headed straight at Tim Howard.
Seconds later Radosavljevic was allowed too much room and tested Howard from long range as Slovenia finished the stronger. Hercules Gomez blasted high and wide in stoppage time as both sides pressed for the full three points in a pulsating game.
The final whistle went shortly after and both sides were a little disappointed. Slovenia for losing a two goal lead, and the USA were left to ponder why their potential goal was disallowed.
Both sides now await the England v Algeria game to see what will be required of them in their final game.
Gallery of US and Slovenia Supporters Enjoying that Special World Cup Atmosphere
United States — Howard, Cherundolo, DeMerit, Onyewu, Bocanegra, Dempsey, Bradley, Torres (Feilhaber, 46), Donovan, Altidore, Findley (Edu, 46).
Slovenia — S.Handanovic, Brecko, Suler, Cesar, Koren, Ljubijankic, Birsa, Novakovic, Jokic, Kirm, Radosavljevic.