By Decature Tounsel

June 24, 2010

9:15a in Johannesburg — 2:15a in Chicago/San Antonio


WE WON THE GROUP! History was made last night ladies and gentlemen! Did you know, the US Men’s Soccer team has NEVER won the final group match at the World Cup until yesterday! What an incredible day yesterday! Every USA fan I talked to yesterday was confident in a win for our guys. Everyone was saying 2-0 to the US, and yet we found ourselves on the brink of elimination when the fourth official lifted his board that read four minuets of extra time. Im not going to lie to you; I always felt a US goal was going to happen. It was our destiny! Our seats this time were on the 20 yard line, 20 rows up, perfect, yet again. Our guys were shooting at our goal in the second half, so I knew a goal would give us a front row seat to the greatest US celebration since the Mexico win in ’02, and the Spain win last year.

Tick Tick Tick, BOOM!

Around the 89th minute our section of US fans were almost mute. There was a buzz about the offside call on Dempsey in the first half. People were saying that replays showed that he was really onside. I personally saw the replay back at the hotel and he was a hair offside, sorry. Anyways, its the 89th minute, they’ve already shown the 1-0 England score on the big screen, and yes, nerves were as high as they can be. Then the breakaway. So remember, I’m thinking that the winning goal is going to come, its now the 91st minute and my brain begins to paint a picture of utter gloom and doom for the USA. Then there was the pass, to a wide open Altidore. I have played enough soccer to know that LATE counterattacks like the one Altidore has just started are the Soccer Gods way of letting a team rewrite the plans they have decided for the game. I knew that this was going to be it, there would be no more REAL chances at goal after this. I started to scream, GO GO GO, BUDDLE BUDDLE!! I could see Buddle screaming down the field, awaiting a pass that would put him in a position to clinch the game, and the group. Seconds later we saw the pass, moments later, we saw the block, then we saw, DESTINY! After Algeria’s goalkeeper stopped Dempsey’s shot I thought…SOMEONE GET IT!!! Then, like an angel out of the sky, Landon comes in to strike the low blow that sent us all on cloud nine! I stood on top of my chair and started to hug anyone I could. I eventually made it down two rows to hug new friends of mine, Nate, and his mom, Leba. Nate, a six foot tall football coach in Houston is one of those guys that is cool under pressure, but not in this moment. At one moment it looked like Nate was crying — but we’ll keep that between me and you. Leba grabbed me and hugged me like I was one of her own. For a moment, I couldnt hear anything, the moment was that amazing!

A minute and a half later…HISTORY!

USA 1 — Algeria 0.

We started to dance, and I could hear it all. I could hear fans singing above us in the second tier, just as happy as they could be. Nate, Leba and I found some other people from our group and started celebrating with them. The greatest celebratory moment was when the whole US Team came over and started jumping up and down with us. Jozy Altidore actually jumped the electronic advertising board and made his way into the crowd! Landon picked up a flag a fan threw at him and started celebrating with it. At that moment, every US fan was family! Everyone was high fiving each other, hugging each other, and just living the joys of life with each other, it was like New Years in Pretoria! We were in there almost until they shut that place down! I will never forget yesterday! I will never forget this trip! I want to write more but then again, I hope that one day you can experience a World Cup and live all that I have. I hope you can experience the new friendships, new family members, the sights, the sounds, the heartwarming moments, the once in a lifetimes. This trip was worth every penny! If I was given a death sentence by a doctor tomorrow I can say I would die in peace, because I have been so blessed!

On a sad note, my flight back home leaves three hours before our Round 16 match starts. I will be watching a recording when I get home, as soon as I get home. My only worry is that someone will leak the score during my almost 20 hours of traveling back to Chicago. Oh well.

Another post will come before I get on the jumbo on Saturday. Until then…




James Hope


President of the Crocketteers