Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Since all I can do right now is think about soccer anyway....

In honor of today's inspiring goal from Donovan, a look back at ten goals that, by a combination of quality, timing, chance, and of course, being for the right team, are forever etched in my memory.

10-Maxi Rodriguez for Argentina v. Mexico in 2006 WC second round

The best moment in a disappointing World Cup. Argentina, dominating against Mexico in a game tied at 1-1 since the 10th minute, couldn't find a winner until extra time, the 99th minute, when a long ball from left back Sorin found the chest of Maxi Rodriguez, whose left-footed volley dipped into the upper-left corner. The goal sent Argentina to the quarter-finals where shoddy coaching and negative tactics cost them the game against Germany. (Messi languished on the bench in the quarterfinal.)

9-Marco Etcheverry for DC United vs. Tampa Bay, 1996

It was the middle of the first season in MLS, and DC were sitting in mid-table. On a rainy Friday night, my Dad and I, loyal as we were, made the trip to RFK to witness the turning point in DC's first season. A hard-fought game that we dominated went until the 75th minute or so, when John Maessner's cross from the left side found Etcheverry, the future-United legend, who shot low to the near post from 12 yards. I actually couldn't find this goal online, so we'll have to trust my memory on this one, unless someone can find it.

8-Tab Ramos for USA vs. Costa Rica in world cup qualifying, 1997

Without captain John Harkes and forward Eric Wynalda, the USA were struggling in this crucial home World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica. I don't remember the exact points situation, but we needed a win, and weren't getting many chances. In the second half, coach Steve Sampson brought on Preki, and his creative play finally paid off. In the 80th minute or so this lefty put in a weak right-footed cross that somehow made its way to Marcelo Balboa in the box, who laid the ball back to Tab Ramos, who was playing his first national team game after ACL surgery. He shot low and hard to the far post, beating the keeper, and keeping us on track to make it to France '98. [again, no record online....what gives?] My Dad and I celebrated from our basement, where back in the day we got espn2 from a satellite dish!

7-Thierry Henry for Arsenal vs. Manchester United in the EPL October 2000

The only goal in a 1-0 victory. The amount of creativity, imagination and flair that went into this goal is mind-boggling. What a strike.

6-Ronaldinho for Barcelona vs. Villareal in October 2006, la liga

After the disappointing 2006 World Cup, people say Ronaldinho was already past his prime. But the fall of 2006 he played the best 6 months of football I've ever seen from any player, period. Messi and Eto'o were both injured, so he was leading a makeshift Barca frontline with Gudjohnsen and Giuly, and creating goals out of nothing. In the spring of 2007, Barca would lose their form, but the fall of '06 saw them top of the Spanish league. This game, and this goal, were the highlight of that run. It's probably the greatest goal I've ever seen, and from the greatest player.

5-Dennis Bergkamp for the Netherlands vs Argentina in 1998 World Cup quarterfinal

In this World Cup, my Dad and I were really pulling for the Dutch, who I still think were the best team in the tournament, playing gorgeous soccer and finding themselves unlucky to lose to Brazil on penalties. Tied at 1-1 deep in the second half and down a player, Holland got a lift when Ariel Ortega, Argentine striker, was sent off for headbutting Edwin Van der Sar. Minutes later, Frank de Boer played an inch perfect 70-yard ball to Dennis Bergkamp, who somehow tracked the path of the ball over his right shoulder, took one touch to control, another (with the ball still hovering in mid-air) to nutmeg Roberto Ayala, and a third to half-volley past the Argentine keeper. Bergkamp's first two touches are out of this world, and the third is decent as well. My Dad and I were watching at some friend's house somewhere(?), but were the only ones watching...we had to stifle our screams excitement.

4-Donovan and Bradley against Slovenia-great comeback. Donovan's will be one of the goals of the tournament.

3-Brian McBride and Landon Donovan for USA vs. Mexico in 2002 World Cup round of 16

The best game ever played by the US national team. Reyna was moved to the right for this second-round match, and his run on the right created the first goal, along with a brilliant flick on the by-line by Josh Wolff. John O'Brien's ball to Eddie Lewis for the second was perfectly weighted, and what a cross from Lewis! He picked out Donovan's run perfectly. We got robbed in the quarters against Germany, but that second round match was one to remember.

2-Iniesta for Barcelona v Chelsea-champions league semifinal 2nd leg 2009

After Chelsea played the most negative, disgraceful 180 minutes of soccer, Barcelona Iniesta finally put things right with his last gasp away goal at Stamford Bridge. All the drama was there: missed chances, poor refereeing, etc etc. Barcelona played the last third of the game down a player after a phantom tackle earned Eric Abidal a red card. But still they maintained about 80% ball possession and attacked relentlessly, with Dani Alves doubling as right winger and right fullback. His cross eventually led to the sublime finish that sent Barca into the final and on to the historic treble of trophies.

The commentator in that video put it perfectly: "No es Andres Iniesta, es el dios de la justicia del futbol."-It wasn't Iniesta, it was the God of Justice for football.

1-Donovan vs. Algeria 2010-What more is there to say?


  1. The commentator on the Ronadinho goal is pretty funny. Over a shot of an angelic-looking little boy celebrating the goal: "And little Blondie saying... 'I want to be like him.' I doubt that very much."

  2. yeah that's ray hudson. he says some absurd things: "like beta-max....they don't make 'em like him anymore"

  3. wow - great list . . . i was surprised you left off the two goals by teddy sheringham and ole gunnar solskaer to win the champions league for Man U (in 1999?). And I can't believe you remember that 1996 DC United goal -- out of my memory bank, I'm afraid.
    But I could watch that Dennis Bergkamp goal 100 times and never get tired of it --

  4. Yeah, those were definitely on my short list. I guess it's weird to think I was really supporting Man Utd back then! But I do remember saying that Solskjaer and Sheringham should start over Cole and Yorke...I was certainly right about that! Where were we for Bergkamp's goal? Why did we have to be so quiet?