Anxiety quickly turned into elation for a crowd of soccer fans who gathered this morning in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza to watch the U.S. face Algeria in the World Cup.
The match was scoreless for 90 minutes and it appeared the U.S. would not advance to the next round. With England beating Slovenia 1-0 in a game being played simultaneously, the Americans needed a win in order to advance.
They got the goal they needed in the 91st minute when Jozy Altidore sent a ball to the front of the net that was tipped by teammate Clint Dempsey and blocked by Algerian keeper Rais Bolihi. The ball landed at the feet of Landon Donovan, who knocked in the goal and sprinted to the corner of the field in celebration.
While Donovan was mobbed by his teammates, fans at the Civic Center pounded drums and blew vuvuzela horns, noisemakers that have been popular at the South African games.
“It’s like a stadium experience. It’s cool to watch with other fans,” said 15-year-old Lev Facher, who sported an American flag top hat and a U.S. soccer jersey.
Facher, a Berkeley resident, and his friend Ben Feiner, 16, of Albany, arrived at the plaza at 6:30 a.m. for the match.
“I’m literally on the verge of tears,” said Teddy Thanas, 26, of San Francisco, in between blows on his vuvezela.
The U.S. team, the winners of Group C, next plays at 11:30 a.m. Saturday against the second place team from group D. A schedule of games being shown on the Civic Center big screen is available at worldcupsf.com.
Chris Saguisag, 43, who works at the nearby State Building, said he stops by Civic Center every day the games are shown to catch World Cup action.
“I drove in just so I could get here early enough,” he said.