JOHANNESBURG -- A second-half comeback. A furious rally. It hardly makes up for a U.S. win that was taken away.
Down two goals and heading toward an abrupt end to their WorldCup, the Americans fought back for a 2-2 draw with Slovenia - a tiethe U.S. claimed should have been a win.
Landon Donovan scored early in the second half, and MichaelBradley tied it in the 82nd minute Friday to keep alive theAmericans' chances of advancing. Those chances would have been muchgreater had Maurice Edu's goal off a free kick not been disallowedby the referee.
"I'm a little gutted to be honest," Donovan said. "I don'tknow how they stole that last goal from us. I'm not sure what thecall was. He (the referee) wouldn't tell us what the call was."
Second-half sub Edu appeared to put the U.S. ahead in the 86thminute, poking in a close-range shot after Jozy Altidore headedDonovan's free kick to him. But the goal was waved off by refereeKoman Couilibaly of Mali, apparently for a foul before Edu got theball.
"We asked the ref many times what it was or who it was on andhe wouldn't or couldn't explain it," Donovan said. "I don't knowwhat to think of the call because I didn't see any foul, just anormal free kick and a goal."
Slovenia, the smallest of the 32 nations in the tournament, tooka 2-0 lead when Valter Birsa caught goalkeeper Tim Howardflat-footed to score in the 13th minute and Zlatan Ljubijankicscored on a counterattack in the 42nd.
Donovan scored in the 48th minute and Michael Bradley, son ofU.S. coach Bob Bradley, tied the score in the 82nd.
"My guess is there's not many teams in this tournament thatcould have done what we did," Donovan said.
Bradley scored when Jozy Altidore's header fell in the middle ofthe penalty area. Running at full speed, Bradley caught up to itjust in front of the net and tapped it over Slovenia goalkeeperSamir Handanovic's head.
"This team still understands how to fight for 90 minutes," theU.S. coach said. "This is something we've seen time and timeagain."
The United States never has won a World Cup game in which it hastrailed.
Slovenia (1-0-1) leads Group C with four points and would havequalified for the second round with a win.
"We lost our concentration in the second half and the Americansbenefited from that," Slovenia coach Matjaz Kek said. "We wereahead of the United States but we didn't overcome this pressure."
The U.S. (0-0-2) is second with two points, followed by England(0-0-1) with one point, pending its match against Algeria (0-1) inCape Town later Friday. The top two teams in the group advance.
"We know we're good enough to play against a team like that,"Donovan said. "We can't keep putting ourselves in holes like that.We've got one more chance against Algeria, and we're still alive."
A pro-U.S. crowd dressed in red, white and blue came to cheerthe Americans, who entered with an 0-5 record against EasternEuropean nations in World Cup play.
It was a blustery 55 degrees at gametime in Ellis Park, wherethe U.S. lost to Brazil 3-2 in last June's Confederations Cup finalafter taking a two-goal lead into halftime.
Slovenia had two shots on goal in the first half and scored onboth.
Birsa put the Green Dragons ahead when the American defense gavehim yards of space. His left-footed shot from 30 yards went inwithout any attempt to stop it by Howard, who froze and may havebeen screened.
Jose Torres, who replaced Ricardo Clark in the one change amongAmerican starters, nearly tied it in the 37th minute with a freekick from the side of the penalty area that was parried out of playby Handanovic.
Robbie Findley got a yellow card in the 40th minute for a handball in Slovenia's penalty area, an automatic suspension for theAlgeria match because he also was cautioned against England.
The U.S. nearly tied it a minute later when Clint Dempseycrossed toward Donovan inside the 6-yard box. But as Donovan wasabout to redirect the ball in, Miso Brecko slid in and knocked theball away. Donovan skidded into the goal without the ball, andseveral American players put their hands on their heads infrustration.
Slovenia quickly countered, Ljubijankic got behind Jay DeMeritto come in alone on Howard and slid the ball under the goalkeeper.
Benny Feilhaber and Maurice Edu entered at the start of thesecond half for Findley and Torres, with Dempsey pushing up toforward. The U.S. quickly got a goal back.
Donovan took a pass down the right flank from Steve Cherundolo,patiently took three touches and from an extreme close-in angle putthe ball over Handanovic into the roof of the net. With his 43rdgoal, Donovan extended his American scoring record.
Donovan's 22-yard free kick in the 70th bounced off the wallinto the middle, but Altidore's 12-yard shot went right atHandanovic.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times