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US, Slovenia Draw, Serbia Stuns Germany in World Cup

  • Sonny Young

US midfielder Michael Bradley (R) scores a goal against Slovenia during Group C first round 2010 World Cup football match at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, 18 Jun 2010

US midfielder Michael Bradley (R) scores a goal against Slovenia during Group C first round 2010 World Cup football match at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, 18 Jun 2010

In World Cup football action Friday, the United States rallied from a two-goal halftime deficit to draw 2-2 with Slovenia in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Only 13 minutes into the match, Slovenia midfielder Valter Birsa put his team into the lead with a long, left-footed shot that had American goalie Tim Howard rooted to the pitch. In the 42nd minute, Slovenia doubled its lead when Miloveje Novakovic split the American defense with a pass to Zlatan Ljubijankic, who tucked the ball in just to the right of Howard.

Only 13 minutes into the match, Slovenia midfielder Valter Birsa put his team into the lead with a long, left-footed shot that had American goalie Tim Howard rooted to the pitch. In the 42nd minute, Slovenia doubled its lead when Miloveje Novakovic split the American defense with a pass to Zlatan Ljubijankic, who tucked the ball in just to the right of Howard.

Slovenia was up, 2-0, and the underdog European team certainly seemed ready to fulfill the pre-match words of head coach Matjaz Kek, who said a victory over the Americans would solidify Slovenia on the global map of football.

As the second half got under way, though, the USA's all-time leading goalscorer, Landon Donovan, helped spark the American comeback. Donovan made a free run into the box, and cutting in from the right, he blasted a brilliant shot high into the top of the net. The Americans kept the pressure on as the game got rougher. Malian referee Koman Coulibaly showed three Slovenian players (Marko Suler, Andraz Kirm and Bojan Jokic) yellow cards. And, in the 82nd minute, Jozy Altidore headed a high ball down for an attacking Michael Bradley, who, like Donovan, fired the ball into the roof of the net to even the score at two-all.

It looked like the Americans would win the match in the closing minutes, when Maurice Edu volleyed home a free kick from Donovan. But, referee Coulibaly disallowed the goal, much to the anger of the American squad. With the draw, the USA kept alive its hopes of advancing to the Round of 16. The USA has two points from two matches, while Slovenia has four points.

American coach Bob Bradley, whose son scored the equalizer, talked about his team's comeback at the post-match press conference.

"Again, I think this team has shown that it keeps fighting to the end," said Bradley. "And we've now had the experience of pushing games when we're behind. I think it's something that we feel good about. It's a credit to the mentality of the players. It's a credit to the fact that they're going to fight for 90 minutes every game."

In their final group game, the Americans will play Algeria on June 23 in Pretoria, South Africa. That same day, Slovenia will play England in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

In Friday's first World Cup match, played in Port Elizabeth, Serbia beat three-time World Cup champion Germany, one-nil. Milan Jovanovic scored in the 38th minute, one minute after German star Miroslav Klose was sent off for receiving his second yellow card. It marked the first time in 24 years that Germany lost in World Cup group play.

In the last match of the day, England and Algeria played to a 0-0 draw in Cape Town.

David James replaced Robert Green in net to start the game for England. Green relinquished an extremely soft goal in the team's opening match 1-1 draw with the United States.

Since scoring in the third minute of its game against the Americans, England has not tallied a goal in more than 180 minutes of World Cup play.

Slovenia leads Group C with 4 points so far in the opening round. The U.S. and England have 2 points each, and Friday's draw gives Algeria its first point of the group stage.

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