US fight back to draw with Slovenia
The United States made a dramatic comeback from two goals down at halftime to draw 2-2 with Slovenia and rescue their World Cup chances on Friday.
Slovenia took a surprise 2-0 lead by halftime, outplaying the Americans and scoring with goals from Valter Birsa in the 13th minute and Zlatan Ljubijankic in the 42nd.
But Landon Donovan scored a brilliant individual goal three minutes after the break and as the Americans poured forwards, Michael Bradley, son of coach Bob Bradley, grabbed an equaliser eight minutes from time.
The US nearly won the game five minutes from the end when a free kick was swung into the Slovenia area and Maurice Edu directed the ball into the net but the referee blew for an infringement.
Image: USA's Michael Bradley celebrates after scoring the equaliser
I am gutted: Donovan
US players protested furiously and were left fuming at the decision after the game.
"I am a little bit gutted to be honest. I don't know how they stole that third goal from us. It's too bad because that was a fair goal I think," Donovan said.
"I saw a good finish and a good goal. I'm not sure what the call was, he wouldn't tell us what the call was."
US coach Bradley was also puzzled by the decision.
"We still don't know why the goal was disallowed...No one knows. It is important to understand that the players put a lot of emotion into the game and now they want a fair outcome," coach Bradley said.
Image: US players argue with referee Koman Coulibaly after a goal scored by teammate Maurice Edu was disallowed
Birsa fires first salvo for Slovenia
Slovenia grabbed the lead through a superb 25 metre strike from Valter Birsa - left in acres of space the winger looked up and fired past a strangely stationary Tim Howard.
The US were struggling to match-up in midfield with Birsa causing isolated US left-back Carlos Bocanegra all kinds of trouble but they went close to levelling in the 41st minute when Clint Dempsey crossed low to Landon Donovan but Miso Brecko slid in to clear.
But a minute later, the US were caught on the break, Milivoje Novakovic split open a flat back line with a superb through ball to Zlatan Ljubijankic who kept his cool and slotted past the advancing Howard.
Image: Slovenia's Valter Birsa (left) celebrates with teammate Aleksander Radosavljevic after scoring
US constantly in the hunt for equaliser
US coach Bradley had plenty to sort out at the break and he brought on Edu and Benny Feilhaber to the midfield, taking off Jose Torres and striker Robbie Findley.
Within three minutes of the restart the US pulled a goal back, Donovan cutting in from the right flank and then blasting in at the near post from the tightest of angles.
The US poured forward in search of an equaliser and eight minutes from time Bradley surged into the Slovenia penalty area to get onto a knock-down from Jozy Altidore and put a rising shot past Slovenia keeper Samir Handanovic.
Image: Jose Torres of the US (left) is challenged by Zlatan Ljubijankic of Slovenia as they vie for possession