Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I've watched this goal a few dozen times now, and it gets better every time. About a year ago I witnessed what I thought would forever be the most remarkable, exhilarating moment in the history of sport when Barcelona scored against Chelsea in the 93rd minute of the Champions League semifinal. I could barely focus on anything for days. But Landon Donovan and the USA have topped it. The timing of the goal, its importance for the team and for US soccer, and the extra save by the keeper on Dempsey's shot just before it (thinking to myself, AGAIN??) all contributed to the ecstasy of the moment. But more than anything, it was the frustration, the anxiety, the sheer injustice of being held scoreless for the whole game, and the creeping sense of despair. For so long I resisted the belief that we had blown it with our terrible finishing, the referees with their awful calls, and Algeria with its stubborn defending; but I was finally trying to come to terms with defeat. And then when it finally seemed too late, that final chance came our way.

There's really nothing in sports comparable to that last-gasp goal in soccer. After playing for so long, doing everything except scoring, the swing in emotions is indescribable. And for it to happen to the US team, in a decisive World Cup game! Even if they didn't play the best soccer, team USA treated us to the two most dramatic examples of soccer matches in the last two games: a two-goal comeback, and a last-minute game-winner. We're all lucky to have witnessed it.

I'm sure my own suffering is far from over at this World Cup; after all, Spain have at least one match to play, and watching them play so well without scoring is just painful. The soccer gods are fickle, and may not give us justice again for some time. But today was the best reminder of why we suffer through countless games, and why we suffered today for 91 excruciating minutes. For now, it all seems worth it.

more thoughts to follow

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