Great football day yesterday, with all of the three teams I follow -- U.S., U.K. and Germany -- now going on to the second round. Each team won by 1-0, meaning of course there was only goal per game. The English goal was cool but pretty basic, while the German forward Ozil lifted a long beautiful shot high above the other players heads which dropped right into the bucket, a real classic.
But neither could compare with Donovan's goal in the last minute of the U.S.-Algeria game during overtime stoppage. A cross shot from Dempsey on the side bounced off the Algerian goalie, who fell to the ground while the ball then rebounded around 20 feet from the net. Donovan, who seemed to be traveling at the speed of light, swooped in for the kill and rocketed the ball into the net so fast you could barely see it.
It was the kind of shot that soccer nuts will sit around for 90 minutes waiting for, mostly in vain, but this time it worked. Soccer in one sense is an extended period of head-banging until the clouds part and the dove descends and by some miracle a path opens and somebody gets a clear shot to the net.
In Donovan's case it was truly a fairy-tale shot, and the only thing that could surpass it would be a similar performance in the last minute of play during the final game for the World Cup.
But victory comes at a cost, and now my favorite teams will drop out one by one from the competition, and the best I can hope for is that just one of them will make it to the top. And we don't really yet know what Brazil and Argentina have up their tricots.