On 23 June 2010, Landon Donovan's 91st-minute goal saved the United States from a first-round elimination and won them the top spot in their World Cup group.
The US had opened the tournament with a 1-1 draw against England, followed by a 2-2 draw with Slovenia. In both matches, the Yanks had surrendered early leads and had to claw their way back to earn a point. Against England, they went down 1-0 to a 4th-minute goal from Steven Gerrard before Clint Dempsey's speculative shot in the 40th minute slipped through the hands of keeper Rob Green to level the sides. Against Slovenia, the US were down 2-0 at the break before goals from Donovan (48') and Michael Bradley (82') earned them the draw. They appeared to get a late winner when Maurice Edu struck the ball home off of a Donovan free kick, but the referee disallowed the goal.
Against Algeria in the group's last match, the US managed to avoid giving up an early goal, but struggled to find one of their own. Playing before a crowd of 35,827 at Pretoria's Loftus Versfeld Stadium, the teams battled to a scoreless draw for 90 minutes. Had that result stood, both the US and Algeria would have been eliminated.
But in the first minute of stoppage time, US keeper Tim Howard threw the ball upfield to Donovan, who raced forward and passed it to forward Jozy Altidore in the Algerian box. Altidore crossed the ball in for Dempsey, but the Algerian keeper, Raïs M'Bolhi, beat Dempsey to the ball and batted it away. It fell at the feet of a surging Donovan, who fired it home for the win.
In the Round of 16, the US again fell victim to an early goal and were eliminated by Ghana, 1-2 (aet).