As the U.S. gets set to play Slovenia for only the second time, ussoccer.com looks back on the pivotal moment from their first encounter and what remains one of the biggest plays in World Cup history for the United States.
While Landon Donovan's goal against Algeria remains an iconic moment, it would have been just another good finish in Landon's career were it not for the 2-2 draw against Slovenia in the previous match. Having drawn with England in the opener while Slovenia beat Algeria, a loss in that game would have meant the end of the USA's chances for advancement.
The U.S. had spotted Slovenia two first-half goals. Landon Donovan pulled the USA back within one in the 48th minute, and for next half hour plus the team fought to gain the crucial equalizer.
With only five minutes remaining, Donovan floated a ball into the area where Jozy Altidore fought off his defender and headed the ball down into the path of Michael Bradley, who had surged forward into the attack. Combining perfect timing and technique, Bradley poked the ball over the head of the Slovenian goalkeeper and into the back of the net, setting of a scene of absolute jubilation.
ussoccer.com spoke with Bradley about his memories of that moment.
ussoccer.com: Looking back now, what do you remember about the situation surrounding the goal?
Michael Bradley: "I remember being 2-0 down at halftime, and at that point being out of the World Cup. We looked around the locker room knowing that we had 45 minutes to turn things around. Landon scored a great first goal to get momentum on our side, and at that point we were putting everything we had into the game to get it to 2-2."
ussoccer.com: Take us through the play ...
MB: "The ball went wide to Landon, and I was kind of floating in the center. He played a great long ball to Jozy. As it was in the air, I could see some space and thought that if I moved off Jozy he could knock it down. He did a great job being strong and battling with the center back, and he headed it right in the perfect spot. At that point, I tried to be as quick as I could to get to the ball. The goalie had come out a bit, and I just wanted to get it before it bounced too high."
ussoccer.com: Would you say that the goal was the best 'sole poke' you've ever had?
MB: "Sure is. It’s also the only one."
ussoccer.com: Do you remember the goal celebration?
MB: "The way I managed to score meant that I had slid into the ball and had my head up, and I remember seeing ball hit the back of the net. At that point, emotion takes over. For me, the best part of it all was sharing the moment and that feeling with my teammates. Throughout the whole World Cup, you could see the spirit and the strength of the team, and it was reflected in the way we celebrated goals."