Published in the Akron Beacon Journal on June 24, 2010
U.S. victory thrills Porter
World Cup analysis with University of Akron men's soccer coach Caleb Porter on the United States' 1-0 victory over Algeria that allowed the U.S. to win Group C and advance to the Round of 16.
ABJ: What are your thoughts on the goal scored by Landon Donovan in the 91st minute?
CP: ''I think this is a great example of just how dramatic this sport is and the fine line between winning and losing. Algeria comes down and has a ball served in [by Adlane Guedioura] and [Rafik Saifi] heads it near the post. At that moment, I am thinking this could be the game. [U.S. goalkeeper] Tim Howard collected the ball, and immediately initiated a counter attack. Landon Donovan drove down the field and played a nice ball in to Jozy Altidore. He played it towards the goal and Clint Dempsey slid in front of Algeria's goalkeeper [Rais M'Bohli]. For me, that was huge because he put his body on the line for his team. Donovan was able to come in and drive the ball home. I think it is fitting that Donovan scored the goal. He is probably the greatest soccer player we have ever produced.''
ABJ: Obviously, Donovan will receive much of the attention from fans and media, but what other American players are impressing you the most?
CP: ''Dempsey is a having a good tournament. He continues to be dangerous and he has had some chances that were near misses. Michael Bradley is doing a lot of good things at midfield that have helped the team be successful.''
ABJ: What are your thoughts on the increased level of interest surrounding soccer in the U.S.?
CP: ''That is what makes this sport and the World Cup special. The drama is amazing. Our country is getting more excited about soccer and more people are watching the games on TV and pulling for our team. The last 15 minutes, for me, was an adrenaline rush. When we scored that goal, I'm not sure if I have ever been more excited. Obviously, it is not my team. I am not playing and I am not coaching. I am not on the bench, but to feel that moment and see our country win that game was special.''
ABJ: Your thoughts on how the team regrouped after Dempsey's first-half goal was waved off on a questionable offside call?
CP: ''They have showed a lot of resiliency. They never quit and they keep fighting. As Donovan said on the postgame TV interview with ESPN, those are the qualities that embody Americans. I got goose bumps because we won the game and we won the group. This is my livelihood and the livelihood for many others. I am very happy to see that our sport is growing in our country.''
ABJ: Did the match play out the way you thought it would?
CP: ''It was a very open game. We knew it would be that way because both teams had to win. We did a pretty good job in the back half, shutting them down on the counters and putting out fires. I would like to see us finish our chances a little sooner. In the upcoming games, we will have to finish more of these chances.''