My Top 5 Soccer Moments of The Year!
Selecting just 5 moments of soccer for 2010 is a challenge that I readily accepted when Bobby posed it. What fun to review the year, think of happy or sad moments, and tell you why I selected the ones I did.
In a World Cup year one cannot ignore its champion so my #1 moment of the year is Spain’s extra time victory over The Netherlands in the FIFA World Cup Final – a victory richly deserved. Andres Iniesta’s goal was a single moment of celebration for everyone who believes the beautiful of the game should always triumph over the cynical. Sadly, such is not always the case, but on this day in South Africa, Spain held its nerve, Casillas made the saves that the championship required, and Spain’s fabulous ability to possess the ball and create incisive attacks won the day. A true #1 in any competition!
#2 for me were the final moments of the U.S. match against Algeria. Facing the prospect of falling short of advancing to the knockout round of the World Cup, Landon Donovan received an outlet from Tim Howard and swept forward, feeding Jose Altidore for a slotted cross to Clint Dempsey. Dempsey’s shot was well saved by the Algerian ‘keeper, who had a strong game, but the ball bounced away to Donovan, who maintained his run, and he slotted it home – Advancement! Sad to say this set the table for a disappointing extra time loss to Ghana, but it did galvanize sports media in America for a few days.
#3 The MLS playoff match between FC Dallas and the Los Angeles Galaxy showed that imitating Spain in playing the ball can be a fruitful exercise, as a great ground game by FC Dallas left the Galaxy in the dust and the 3 – 0 score reflected the difference between the two teams. Bruce Arena’s D.C. United teams used to be the masters of this game, but his Galaxy contingent was comprehensively dusted on this day.
#4 Michael Bradley’s goal against Slovenia tied the match and created the opportunity for the stirring final moments against Algeria. Bradley’s untiring runs through midfield are always a testament to his high level of fitness if not always productive or artful demonstration of his total commitment to the game. On this day, his run and shot from Altidore’s knockdown brought a “comeback kids” rep to a good U.S. squad.
#5 New York Red Bull open a new home, Red Bull Arena. Long on promise and long in the making , Red Bull Arena lived up to its billing – a simply fabulous place for our game. Go – that’s all I can say – you just have to go!
Jack Huckel is the former Director of Museum and Archives at the National Soccer Hall of Fame and is the Founder & Principal of J.R. Huckel & Associates offering election and induction consulting services to Halls of Fame. More information is available at the firm’s web site and Jack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 518/852-3033.