My prayers were answered with Onyewu being left out of the side, and my god did it pay off despite the early jitters from Demerit and Cherundolo. Bornstein came in at left back and played the best game I've ever seen him play for the national team, and thus our defending was finally solid, if not perfect, especially as we had to push forward for that winner. Gomez started and was dangerous in attack, but when Feilhaber came in he was again excellent in the second half. Altidore ever-present and dangerous, using his strength to turn and run at the Algerian defense. Every time he received the ball at his feet our attacks looked promising. But the real heroes today were Donovan and Michael Bradley. Bradley worked tirelessly from end-to-end, was always a threat with smart runs going forward, and always there to cover in defense. Donovan, well... I'd still be crying in a corner if it weren't for his finish.
The biggest problem for the team remains getting the ball from the back line into midfield, and too often we resort to aimlessly hooking it long. I think a bit more commitment by the midfield players to make creative runs, especially second runs off the ball (that is, getting in a position to receive the ball from the midfield player to whom the ball is currently en route) would make all the difference. Where does this leave us for the next round? I think we should start the same way, with the exception of Feilhaber in for Gomez, and Dempsey moving to forward. Dempsey is a good midfielder, but Feilhaber will better link up with our defenders, get the ball to Donovan, Altidore, and Dempsey where they can be dangerous.
In terms of the draw, the other results worked out perfectly for us. Germany beat Ghana, putting them on the much tougher side of the draw. Not only will we see a rematch of last year's classic Argentina-Mexico second-round game, but also probably a repeat Germany-Argentina quarterfinal. The USA, meanwhile, face Ghana in a rematch of our last group game in 2006. They played a decent game today against Germany and had many chances, though they couldn't finish (and both teams were content with the score in the last twenty minutes or so anyway). If we can manage to beat Ghana, we face the winner of probably the weakest second-round matchup, between Korea and Uruguay. One step at a time, though. Saturday, 2:30 eastern, all eyes to South Africa!!