Nail-biting soccer fans watching their US side in a must-win FIFA World Cup™ match across the ocean in South Africa burst into euphoric rapture Wednesday when the team scored a last-gasp winning goal.
Several hundred football faithful who gathered at Lucky Bar, just blocks from the White House, erupted in cheers, tears, and chants of "USA! USA!" after midfield hero Landon Donovan slotted home a rebound in extra time to beat Algeria 1-0, sending the Americans roaring into the second round.
"Divine justice!" bellowed Matthew Mullen moments after the final whistle.
Fans, nervous as they were until the goal, largely kept their composure, as they have throughout the tournament despite some testy matches including the US opener versus England. "In the bar it's always electric," said Lucky owner Paul Lusty of Wales. "We haven't had any incidents," he said, tapping the wood paneling, "but we're not through it all yet."
When the match ended, the Americans were top of Group C, and die-hard fans spilled out onto the street, startling passersby who appeared unaware of what just happened. Despite the prime morning hour in workaholic Washington, Lucky Bar was filled shoulder to shoulder with Americans - and several Britons - who said they were skipping out from the office or taking the day off to watch the matches, including England's 1-0 victory over Slovenia.
One magazine staffer in a US team jersey said she called in sick. "Then on my way here I crossed the street in front of a black BMW, and sitting at the steering wheel was my boss," said the 23-year-old who asked not to be named.
One twenty-something office worker said he was "silently cheering in my office" when Donovan scored. Many Americans aren't even aware that the United States are a soccer power, he said. "Hopefully this game will help the US take one more step toward proving that we are better than England."
Twitter exploded with messages about the match after Donovan's late goal. "Go USA! Yeahhhhhh!!!!!!" wrote Hollywood star Demi Moore on her Twitter feed.