Breaking Down Landon Donovan's Famous Goal

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It will go down as one of the most famous goals in United States soccer history.

Landon Donovan poked a goalkeeper deflection into the net in the 91st minute against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup, setting off a wild celebration across the country as the U.S. secured a 1-0 win and a trip to the round of 16.

With all that was at stake, the goal was a breathtaking highlight featuring Donovan, the face of American soccer.

What's forgotten is that it was Tim Howard, the U.S. goalkeeper, which made it all possible.

Donovan was found in stride at midfield thanks to a save and a quick counterattack started by Howard, one of the top keepers in the world. Howard caught a header by an Algeria player and immediately unleashed an overhand throw downfield, catching Donovan on the run.

"When I caught the ball there were so many times where there were so many green shirts right there around me and I knew that if I got myself into a good area there had to be people open," Howard said of the distribution. "There had to be some U.S. jerseys because there were so many green jerseys on top of us, attacking."

Not only was Howard protecting his net, but he was realizing in the back of his mind that all the Algerian players in attack mode meant that U.S. players downfield were unmarked. He was thinking a play ahead of anyone on the Algerian team.

So, too, was Donovan.

"I knew that they had pushed a lot of numbers forward," Donovan said, "so when the ball broke, a lot of us had almost cheated, for lack of a better word."

With the counterattack already planned, all Howard needed to do was save the incoming shot. Which he did with a clean catch, after an Algerian cross resulted in a header near the far post.

"From an angle standpoint, I felt like I had that all right," Howard said. "In the end it didn't test me too much. It was a power header but it wasn't too bad."

Howard immediately flung it to Donovan. After two touches, Donovan passed it ahead to Jozy Altidore. In one touch, Altidore crossed it to Clint Dempsey who tried to one-touch it past Algerian goalkeeper Ra?s M'Bohli.

M'Bohli blocked it. But Donovan, never giving up on the play, was there to bury the loose ball into the back of the net.

There was so much a young player can learn from the play. Howard showed great goalkeeper instincts and a look-ahead mentality that set it all up. With the advantage, Donovan, Altidore and Dempsey all worked quickly and limited touches. Between Howard's throw and Donovan's shot, the ball was touched only six times.

But more than anything, it was teamwork at its finest...and it gave the United States a historical moment as it continues to build a strong soccer following.

"When you try to do things the right way," Donovan said, "it's good to see them get rewarded."

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