(Friday, June 18th)
Final Score: Slovenia 2, United States 2
Johannesburg, South Africa (Sports Network) - Michael Bradley's goal eight minutes from time allowed the United States to rally from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw with Slovenia at Ellis Park Stadium on Friday in Group C play at the FIFA World Cup.
First-half goals from Valter Birsa and Zlatan Ljubijankic had Slovenia in front, 2-0, at the break. But Landon Donovan pulled a goal back in the 48th minute before Bradley smashed a shot past goalkeeper Samir Handanovic after Jozy Altidore nodded down a long ball.
The Americans thought that they had taken the lead three minutes later when Donovan's free kick was finished off in front of the goal by Maurice Edu, but he was controversially disallowed.
The result leaves Slovenia on top of the group with four points, while the United States is tied with England with two points through two games after the Three Lions earned a scoreless draw with Algeria in the other Group C match on Friday.
"This team still understands how to fight for 90 minutes," American coach Bob Bradley said. "This is something we've seen time and time again. A lot [of] emotion went into the second half, and the result keeps us going until the [final] match."
Much like it did against England in the opener, the United States got off to a poor start, going down a goal inside of 13 minutes.
Aleksandar Radosavljevic played a ball to Birsa in midfield, and he turned with it in space and fired a shot inside the right post from 25 yards, leaving goalkeeper Tim Howard with no chance.
A pair of good chances for the Americans followed, with Jose Torres forcing a good save from Handanovic from a free kick before a last-ditch challenge from Miso Brecko denied Donovan a simple tap in.
But Slovenia hit back on the counter attack one minute later as Milivoje Novakovic played a nice through ball to Ljubijankic, who slipped his shot underneath Howard.
A response from the U.S. came three minutes after the break when a long ball from Steve Cherundolo found Donovan on the right wing. He burst into the box and hammered a shot into the roof of the net from a tight angle, cutting the lead in half.
Altidore had a chance 20 minutes from time as he got plenty of pace on a shot from inside the area, but the ball was hit straight at the goalie.
However, the Americans kept pressing forward and they got their equalizer as Altidore nodded a long ball down into the path of Bradley, whose half-volley was smashed past the goalie from near the penalty spot.
The winner almost came three minutes later when Donovan's free kick was knocked home from close range by Edu, but it was mysteriously ruled out.
"It was a really tough match and my team showed they were of high quality. We gained a point today and we are in a very good position," Slovenia boss Matjaz Kek said. "Now we need to recover to prepare for England."
If the U.S. beats Algeria in its last Group C match on Wednesday, it will advance to the knockout round regardless of the outcome of the England/Slovenia match the same day.
06/18 16:20:13 ET