The USA vs. Slovenia match-up proved to be the most exciting of the still young 2010 World Cup. After going down 2-0, the United States was able to come back in the second half to tie the game at 2. However, the referee, Koman Coulibaly of Mali, blatantly blew a call on a set piece that would have given the USA a 3-2 lead with just minutes left in the game.
With the game tied at 2, Landon Donovan sent a great ball into the box, and Maurice Edu was able to break through and deliver the ball past the keeper and into the net. However, the referee blew the play dead, when the replay showed absolutely no USA penalty.
The US players were onside, and if anything, midfielder Michael Bradley was being held, and was one of several US players fouled on the play. The goal should have been allowed, and the blown call ruined what would have been a historic comeback.
“It was the guy’s first World Cup game,” Donovan said of Coulibaly after the match when talking about the blown call in an interview on ESPN. Besides that terrible whistle, the referee seemingly missed more than one call throughout the match. There was a handful of different occasions where the USA side got flagged, or wasn’t able to draw a penalty on the other side, despite the fairly clear appearance of the game.
The scoring opened when Slovenian player Valter Birsa sent a long strike past a frozen in place Tim Howard just 13 minutes into the game. After the USA nearly tied the game, Slovenia stormed back with their own attack, and Zlatan Ljubiankic made the score 2-0 at the 42nd minute.
The US side was clearly dejected going into half-time. But they came out energetic and with two substitutions for the second half. In the 48th minute, Donovan was able to break free with some open space and flick a hard shot from a tight angle at the near post over the goalie’s head, bringing the score closer to 2-1. In the 82nd minute, it was Bradley who was able to send home a strike after Jozy Altidore headed the ball in his direction on a Donovan kick.
The USA vs. Slovenia draw was just the 21st time in World Cup history where a team came down from 2-0 to earn at least one point. However, as the United States is working to advance from Group C into the knockout stages, they desperately could have used the win, which it appeared they had achieved.
All is not over for the USA however, and they can still advance into the knockout stages depending on how things play out with England vs. Algeria, and then the next round of games with USA vs. Algeria and England vs. Slovenia.