WESTWOOD—At around 9 a.m. on June 23, the US National team had finished off a dramatic victory over Algeria in the World Cup to move on to the knockout stages, but for UCLA the win was just a little bit sweeter because of three Bruin alums who saw significant playing time during the match.
Carlos Bocanegra, who played from 1997 until 1999, is one of the team captains for the US and made his third consecutive start against Algeria. Jonathan Bornstein played from 2004 to 2005 and was seeing his first action in the World Cup at his position of left back. Bornstein played extremely well in his debut, keeping the Algerians from scoring and allowing the match to remain tied at zero until Landon Donovan was able to finally put the ball in the back of the net during the 91st minute. Benny Feilhaber was a teammate of Bornstein for one season during his time at UCLA from 2003 to 2004 and almost got a goal himself in the 65th minute. After making a nice break towards the goal, Feilhaber was heading out of bounds and attempted to make a cross to teammate Jozy Altadore. The ball ricocheted off of Algerian goalkeeper Rais Bolihi and just missed going into the net for a goal.
Feilhaber came into the game at the start of the second half and gave the US many great opportunities to take the lead. Time and time again the US made great penetration into the Algerian defense, but continued to botch all the chances they made for themselves. The US suffered another heartbreak in the first half after a goal by Clint Dempsey was disallowed because he seemed to be offside. Replays showed that Dempsey was clearly onside and the controversial call by the referee was a flashback to the game the US played against Slovenia just a few days before. Down 2-0 to Slovenia the US came back to score three straight goals in the second half to get the win, but an atrocious offside call nullified the third goal, giving the US only one point for the tie and needing a win against Algeria after England won its match against Slovenia earlier in the day.
The US was dangerously close to not getting that win, but Landon Donovan refused to let that be the case. Heading into stoppage time, the US was playing what could have been their last four minutes of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Dempsey had come so close to scoring the entire match, but continued to attack and not lose hope. In the 91st minute Dempsey had another shot blocked by the goalkeeper and it seemed like another lost opportunity until Donovan raced in to put the rebound in for the miraculous game winning goal.
Their win not only put the US through to the knockout stage, but made them the winners of their group. As a result the US will face Ghana, the runner-up from Group D, on Saturday, June 26, at 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time.