Los Angeles Soccer: Slovenia

2010: Would-be hero ... and Chivas USA's disaster

December, 27, 2010
Our countdown of 2010's top 10 soccer stories and newsmakers -- from a Southern California slant -- continues.
  • Newsmakers/No. 5: Maurice Edu

It might have been the biggest moment in American soccer history, the point when everything -- the quality of the soccer, the loyalty of the fans -- came together in a way it didn't or couldn't with Paul Caligiuri's “shot heard 'round the world,” the 1994 World Cup, Brandi Chastain's bra or the 2002 quarterfinal run.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
The goal Maurice Edu scored but did not count for the U.S. was the tipping point for the team at the World Cup.

Fontana's Maurice Edu scored the most compelling U.S. goal at the World Cup, all because it didn't count.

It's Landon Donovan's strike, the one in stoppage to beat Algeria, that will forever be remembered, but Edu's goal five days earlier against Slovenia -- and Malian referee Koman Coulibaly's decision to omit it -- was the tipping point for the U.S. and the World Cup.

The Americans had started slowly, as they did throughout the Cup, and fallen behind, 2-0, by halftime. They halved the deficit just three minutes into the second half, with Donovan finishing from Steve Cherundolo's feed, and pulled even on Michael Bradley's goal in the 82nd minute.

Then Edu, making his World Cup debut, got on the end of a perfect Donovan free kick, and the U.S. was five minutes plus stoppage from a 3-2 victory. Except Koulibaly whistled for a foul nobody else could see.

The injustice of the moment rallied the fans at home, those fervently following the World Cup and casual observers who couldn't name a U.S. player, Donovan aside, perhaps. We had been wronged, and that self-identification with this U.S. team hit a crescendo when Donovan beat Algeria to give the Americans the Group C title and send them to the knockout phase. No telling how big it might have gotten had the U.S. beaten Ghana in the round of 16.

It was a breakthrough year for the Etiwanda High School alum. He emerged as a true contributor during Rangers FC's run to its 53rd Scottish league title, cemented his spot with the U.S. national team, and made a convincing argument that he's the best partner for Bradley in central midfield.

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