When LA Galaxy star Landon Donovan scored in second-half stoppage time to give the United States a 1-0 win over Algeria at the World Cup, Todd Dunivant had plenty of reasons to be excited.
Dunivant, who supported the national team for which he played two games in 2006, saw several current and former teammates celebrate on the field in Pretoria. But he was especially excited for Donovan and what the goal meant for the Galaxy captain.
“He stepped up again. I was so happy for him. He deserves it,” Dunivant said. “He’s been playing world-class soccer for the last year-and-a-half now, and he’s totally being recognized now. People are realizing this guy is for real and one of top players in the world.”
Donovan’s goal against Les Fennecs was his second in two consecutive matches. The 28-year-old also buried a ball against Slovenia that helped spark a 2-2 comeback draw in that game.
Needing a win over Algeria to reach the second round, the Americans were denied by the officiating, by poor finishing and by a determined opposition bent on playing defense and little else.
“It felt like the game was slipping away from the US,” Dunivant said. “They were pushing and were clearly the better team. Algeria was playing defensively the whole time. It didn’t make sense why they (Algeria) were sitting back there, content with putting the US out of the World Cup even it if meant them going out.”
Ultimately, Donovan did what he does best with both club and country. He sparked a quick counterattack and raced towards the Algerian penalty area. He fed Jozy Altidore, who subsequently slipped a ball to Clint Dempsey. After a quick shot and save, Donovan came up from behind and guided the ball home.
Two more minutes of stoppage time ensued before the US officially booked their ticket to the second round.
“The team certainly has flair for the dramatic,” Dunivant said. “Even with the Confederations Cup last year, it is not dull watching US soccer play.
“The football gods looked down brightly upon us.”
Now, Donovan will have to get past the emotions from the Algeria match and focus on Ghana, whom they will meet in the Round of 16.
Still, the talented midfielder will do as he has often done with the Galaxy—perform well, re-focus on a game shortly after, and do it again. Such was the case on May 5 and 8 when Donovan led the Galaxy to a 1-0 win at Colorado and a 4-0 rout at Seattle.
“It will be a short turnaround for the guys. It’s going to be another test for the US, something they’ll be ready for,” Dunivant said. “He has had plenty of chances to be in the situation. It’s just a mental game.”
Dunivant and his Los Angeles teammates will have to watch the knockout-round match on foreign soil as the Galaxy will play at Toronto FC on Saturday evening. Still, even though they won’t physically be in the US, having Donovan and the rest of the national team succeed abroad is a boon for the beautiful game.
“It’s exciting for soccer in this country, and it’s moving the game forward,” he said.