12 Seconds

In what Sports Illustrated describes as the second most significant goal of U.S. soccer history (Straus, 2), Landon Donovan’s goal in the 2010 World Cup is something that every American sports fan remembers. I was sitting in a locker room at a basketball camp and there were 40 or 50 teenagers, parents, and coaches all crowded around one small television. Most people saw what had been an awful game by both the Americans and the Algerians, but all of that changed in 12 quick seconds. Even my dad, who had never watched a professional soccer game before that point, went wild when Donovan “coolly one-timed a shot into the left corner” (Goff, 2). Although the United States would go on to lose to Ghana in the Round of 16 (FIFA.com), this goal really brought American soccer into the mainstream (Straus, 2).

The Americans seemed to be knocking on the door all day, but just could not quite sneak one past Algerian goalkeeper, Raïs M’Bolhi. There was a goal that was called back in the 20th minute on an offside call, shots went off of the post, some incredible saves were made, and the Americans also missed some great opportunities (Straus, 2). However, none of that mattered in the quick change of 12 seconds.

The 12 seconds started with a Tim Howard save and an outlet pass to Donovan at midfield. Donovan then played the ball on the right side to Jozy Altidore, who then sent a cross to Clint Dempsey (Goff, 2). M’Bolhi came to the ball at almost the exact same time as Dempsey and the only thing Dempsey could do was hit it as hard as he could right at the Algerian goalkeeper. The ball then seemed to just sit right at the top of the box for anyone to come and get. Screaming onto the screen, coming from midfield, Donovan takes advantage of the unattended ball and now unattended goal and drills it home, setting Americans everywhere into a triumphant frenzy. Every time that I watch that incredible goal, all I can think of are the countless times where I got overexcited, would lean back, and pop the ball over the crossbar. While Landan Donovan is one of the greatest American soccer players of all time, it is by no means an easy finish.

Following those iconic 12 seconds was a celebration that is almost as memorable as the goal itself. Donovan slid on his stomach to the corner flag and was met by the entire United States bench. Jay DeMerit somersaulted over the pile, and minutes later, the United States won their group of the World Cup for the first time in 80 years (Straus, 2). Living rooms, bars, and basketball locker rooms across the country were overjoyed. Landon Donovan was able to bring an entire country together, all in 12 seconds.





Straus, Brian. “The 10 Most Significant Goals In U.S. Soccer History: Landon Donovan.”Sports Illustrated Longform, Sports Illustrated, www.si.com/longform/soccer-goals/goal2.html


Goff, Steven. “USA vs. Algeria at World Cup: Landon Donovan’s Goal Means Americans Advance.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 24 June 2010, www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/23/AR2010062302507_2.html?sid=ST2010062305155


FIFA.com. “2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ – Matches.” FIFA.com, www.fifa.com/worldcup/archive/southafrica2010/matches/index.html.