Guest Blog: That ‘no goal' in South Africa was unexplainable - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Guest Blog: That ‘no goal' in South Africa was unexplainable

by Henderson Hewes

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (WLOX) - From the moment I got out of the taxi on the streets of Johannesburg near Ellis Park stadium, I realized how special soccer fans here really are.

I'm not talking about Slovenian fans or even the other fans from around the world. It was the American fans that covered these South African city streets with red, white, and blue; blowing their brightly colored vuvuzelas, carrying American flags, with painted faces left and right. Chants of "USA, USA" never stopped as we followed the large crowd in the streets to the stadium before the start of the game.

I could not believe my eyes. There was so much excitement in the streets. Even the people living in what we would call impoverished areas that we were walking through, were cheering us on as they lined the streets watching the fans walk to the match. We had fans from other countries also joining us with the cheers, because they just wanted to be part of such an animated group. We even walked by a group of Americans taking a picture with a big group of South African children who lived nearby, again chanting " USA" along with the Americans in the picture. It was an amazing feeling and sight to see up close and personal.

This picture in the streets completely summed up how far soccer has come in America over the last 10 or so years, and how a sport can bring people together.

Despite the confidence and excitement from all of us before the game, the buzz went away fairly soon in the stadium not long after the starting whistle blew at 4 pm South African time. We went down 1-0 pretty early and then 2-0 at the end of what was a very sloppy and poorly played first half by the U.S.

The difference between this team and an American team and fans from maybe 20 years ago, was that not only were we surprised we were behind, but we felt there was no reason we should not come back.

Landon Donovan put us on the board right after the second half whistle blew and we all became confident again in what we can really do when we play well. Tensions rose high but the fans stayed confident and believed we could put in another goal. Then in the 82nd minute, once maybe some fans were starting to lose hope, it happened. We tied the game with U.S. Coach Bob Bradley's sons' goal and everyone exploded with joy; even a few fans near us broke down in tears.

While it appears we should have won the game 3-2, but did not due to a very controversial and unexplainable call going against us, it was still a very exciting game and leaves us the opportunity to advance to the next round of 16 teams with a win against Algeria next week.

Despite the results, the emotions and feelings involved in rooting for our country is like none other. While we love our football, basketball, and baseball teams in America, there is still something different and very special when nations from around the world play each other. It is easy to see why the World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world, and why Americans are more interested now than they have ever been before.

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