The U.S. had won. The Americans celebrate on the soccer pitch. A historic comeback is complete and the Yanks are moving on to the second round.
Referee Koman Coulibaly's whistle blew. And the call was .wait, what was the call exactly?
"There was nothing. Absolutely nothing," former U.S. national team player Alexi Lalas said. "It was a bad call."
Was it an offside? Was it an inadvertent tackle? There was no apparent American penalty and there was no explanation by Coulibaly for what the call was, and by FIFA rules he does not have to give an explanation. He certainly didnt offer the Yanks any.
"I saw a good finish and a good goal," Donovan said afterward. "I don't know how much English he knows, but he didnt tell us anything. They didn't tell us what the call was."
As one of the announcers said during the games broadcast, Coulibaly had a rough game. Maybe it was the pressure of officiating his first World Cup match, but he had several missed and delayed calls. In the first half, he yellow-carded American forward, Robbie Findley, for a hand ball; when the ball hit Findley in the face.
But even with poor calls, the U.S. did themselves no favors in the first half.
With a mixture of timid play and weak defense, Slovenia took a two goal lead. With goal scoring at a premium in this World Cup, this was a near devastating deficit. Slovenia had obliterated the Yank defense. Valter Birsa sent a blast that froze up keeper Tim Howard in the 13th minute. Then in the 42nd minute Zlatan Ljubijankic sprinted past Oguchi Onyewu, leaving Howard in a loose-loose situation, alone, against an attacker.
Once again the U.S. had found themselves behind. It seems that in every game the Yanks have a hole that they have to attempt to dig themselves out of. And Donovan was up to the challenge. He was the best player on the field for the U.S. in the first half and in the third minute of the second he took the match on his shoulders and placed a shot over the head of Slovenian keeper Samir Handanovic.
Then in the 82nd minute, he lobbed a kick to Jozy Altidore, who headed the ball to a streaking Michael Bradley. Bradley blasted the ball into the net. Tie game.
Three minutes later it all went down.
"I made my run, pretty much uncontested, so I thought there would have been nothing to call it back. Then the ball came across, it went in and I thought it was a goal," Maurice Edu said on the goal that wasnt. "Obviously the ref saw something different."
Fortunately for the United States all hope is not lost. They control their own destiny. With a win, against Algeria next week, the Americans will be in the second round. And, thanks to England underperforming in a nil-nil tie against Algeria today, the only way the Brits can knock off the U.S. is if the Yanks loose. Or if the U.S. ties and England wins. All the U.S. has to do is win. All they have to do is knock off the weakest team in Group C.
And all this would be unnecessary if Edus goal had counted. The U.S. faces a must win because of the Goal that wasn't.