When he slammed home the game-winning goal a minute into added time in a must-win match, the star midfielder on the U.S. soccer team did more than keep America's hope alive in the World Cup.
Landon Donovan, who will soon become a household name across the nation, pumped a badly needed shot of optimism into the country on a day when a drilling disaster and a disgraced general led the news.
You didn't need to be a soccer fan to get caught up in the excitement that was generated a world away in an extraordinary moment that saved the Americans from elimination at the World Cup competition in South Africa. Ninety minutes into the frustrating game with Algeria, it was scoreless.
A draw would have sent the United States team home. Then, in the 91st minute, it happened. All the patience and perseverance paid off when the American team captain stabbed a rebound into an open-net victory.
The 1-0 win over Algeria was arguably the most dramatic and important ever achieved by the U.S. soccer team. Every player made it possible by not giving up.
They demonstrated a persistence to play on no matter what controversial calls assailed their sense of justice. It was the spirit of the team, personified by Mr. Donovan's rebound shot into the back of the net in the nick of time, that gave Americans back home such a much-needed lift.
The players' resilience in the face of adversity resonated with even those who never heard of Landon Donovan before Wednesday. Now the United States advances into the second round for a game tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. on ABC against Ghana.
And the newfound pride and jubilation of their countrymen will be cheering them on to continued success.