Here lies within my top 12 moments of 2012 for U.S. soccer players – whether playing for the National Team or for their club teams. I know, I know, my list probably misses some of your favorite moments, but there were so many great plays, and players that showcased their talent this year, and it was hard enough to narrow it to 12 moments. Regardless of my top 12 moments not being in order, I hope you enjoy the highlights of 2012:
MNT vs. Russia – 14/11/12
MNT vs. Scotland – 26/5/12
I’m (almost) speechless with the beauties that are these scorchers from AS Roma playmaker, Michael Bradley. The midfielder became a hot commodity in 2012 and it’s only fitting that I couldn’t choose between these goals.
What’s more is this fun fact- Michael Bradley’s first goal for AS Roma was this little ditty at Boston’s Fenway Park in a friendly against Liverpool:
MNT vs. Antigua and Barbuda – 12/10/12
With the U.S. Men’s National Team playing on an abysmal cricket pitch on the Caribbean island, the team – eventually…in the waning moments of the match – ended up with the victory. Fans, myself included, were on the edge of their seats until the game, a World Cup Qualifier, ended with the U.S. winning, 2-1.
MNT vs. Jamaica – 11/9/12
On the 11th anniversary of 9/11, the U.S. men played this World Cup Qualifier against Jamaica in the heartland – Columbus, Ohio. Gomez, who increased his stock this year with his club team in Mexico, took the free kick and curled it beautifully over the wall. The Jamaican goalkeeper could have done better at stopping it (I’m not complaining that he let the goal in) but Gomez takes the challenge with gumption. His eyes were on the prize. And he got the prize.
MNT vs. Mexico – 15/8/12
Orozco-Fiscal’s goal isn’t the prettiest but the build-up to it is just that. This definitely was not Brek Shea’s year but his angled run to the edge of the box is skillful, Terrance Boyd’s back-heel puts a little sass on the impending goal, and Orozco-Fiscal’s tap-in puts the clean finish on the shocking win. The highlight was placed in my top 12 mainly because this match was one of the most historic ones to date for U.S. Soccer. The August 15th match was the first win from the 75-year rivalry at Estadio Azteca for the United States.
WNT vs. Canada – 6/8/12 (Olympics August 6)
In the 123rd minute of the Quarterfinal match between the continental rivals of the U.S.A. and Canadian women, rising star and U.S. forward Alex Morgan popped in a header in the center of the goal, with the assist coming from Heather O’Reilly. After coming from behind in this match to tie it up 3-3, the USWNT fought back in the second half of extra time with Morgan grabbing the game-winner to send the U.S. to the goal medal match – which we all should know by now – came out with the U.S. women carrying home some gold bling.
WNT vs. Japan – 9/8/12 (Olympics August 9)
While playing against Japan in the Olympic final, Carli Lloyd had one of the best games for any woman on the U.S. team during the 2012 Olympics. After watching this highlight over and over, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s refreshing to see Lloyd shoot when she had the chance to do so, and just see what happens with the outcome. Thankfully for the USWNT, it was a great decision by Lloyd. What an awesome strike.
U.S. Soccer creates a new women’s soccer league
The new soccer league, which succeeds both folded women’s leagues – Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) and Women’s United Soccer Association – comes to fruition in Spring 2013. With some big name women’s stars, including Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, Sydney Leroux, Megan Rapinoe, and Alex Morgan, here’s hoping third time’s a charm.
Dempsey vs. Man United (Sept. 29, 2012)
Tottenham midfielder and U.S. Soccer’s male athlete of the year, Clint Dempsey, scored the game-winner for this match. Not only was this the first time in the 23-years of playing Manchester United at Old Trafford that the Spurs beat the Alex Ferguson-led team, this strike was Dempsey’s first goal for London-based Tottenham. Historic indeed.
Although 2012 was his rehab year, I looked forward every few weeks to see his progress from injury. On KickTV’s youtube channel, they featured a ‘No Holden Back’ playlist that showed Holden coming back from injury. Holden should be set to return to the pitch for Bolton in 2013. (Holden returning to play)
The rise of the newbie’s and comeback kings…
‘Mix’in’ it up
Do you have a Kljestan?
This year with Klinsmann at the helm of the ship that is the U.S.S. U.S.A., U.S. Men’s team supporters and fans saw a revolving door of first 11 lineups. Included for the first time with the team (whether on the bench or not) was Mix Diskerud (the Norwegian-playing mid), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC’s midfielder), and with a warm welcome back to the National Team to Sacha Kljestan. (Eddie Johnson is included in this list, but is previously featured.)
Here are some highlights:
Diskerud – (playing for USMNT) –
Zusi – (playing for Sporting KC) –
Kljestan – (playing for Anderlecht) –
AZ Alkmaar – 29/9/12
Marcia, Marcia, Jozy. It’s been that kind of year for Altidore when playing with the US Men’s National Team. However, for the Dutch league Eredivisie it’s been a, ‘Jozy! Jozy! Jozy!’ year. He’s been scoring left and right – well, mainly right since that’s his strong foot – for AZ Alkmaar. Although I might get flack for making this pick of Jozy in my top 12 moments of 2012, I did not specify if it was in the U.S. kit, but just a USMNT player. I do sincerely hope Altidore finds his legs and starts scoring, like he did in the clip, for the U.S. when the Hex comes around.
MLS Playoffs – 2/11/12
Although Rimando’s seat is probably quite hot by now after bench warming for the ever impressive USMNT and Everton keeper Tim Howard, the Real Salt Lake goalkeeper should, with this performance, be placed in the upper echelon of – at the very least – MLS goalkeepers. Rimando’s shot stopping is a reminder that he has been brought up in the U.S. Soccer system as Howard’s protégé. For a quick look at Howard’s highlights (from the U.S. vs. Mexico friendly in August), here you are:
Other highlights that didn’t make the top 12 but are worth a shout-out:
San Jose Earthquakes
“Wondolowski wows watchers with wondrous work” (or something like that) should have been the sports heading whenever the San Jose Earthquake forward was mentioned in a newspaper. On his way to becoming the top goal scorer in MLS in 2012, Wondo bagged 27 goals in the regular season to etch his name in the record books by tying Roy Lassiter’s record. By the end of the season, Wondo scored one of the most, if not the most, coveted titles in Major League Soccer – Most Valuable Player. Here’s hoping Klinsmann calls Wondolowski up for the Hex.
(One of my favorite goals – No. 7 vs. New York Red Bulls. Why? Everyone loves a diving header.)
Matt Besler – 2012 MLS Defender of the Year
Since I am a Sporting Kansas City fan, this was welcome recognition for the hard-working Besler. He was solid and steady throughout the year missing only a few matches because of an appendectomy. Not a flashy player, Besler’s brilliance is shown in consistency and work ethic. I’m looking forward to 2013 as the four-man defensive line-up of Chance Myers, Besler, Aurelian Collin and Seth Sinovic will look to put up the same staggering numbers as this year’s U.S. Open Cup winning season – recording only 27 goals allowed in 34 MLS matches. Sporting Kansas City’s defense truly was the best this year, and possibly ever, in the history of Major League Soccer. Well done, SKC; I applaud you.
Cheated on this one a bit since he doesn’t play for the U.S. anymore, but…
Jimmy Conrad’s Euro 2012 coverage
Euro Trip 2012…Yea!
The former U.S. international traveled to Ukraine and Poland to cover Euro 2012 for the youtube channel focusing on soccer, KickTV. Conrad does an incredible job, not only with the Euro tournament but also with every other soccer video, at combining humor, up-to-date football references and knowledge of the beautiful game. I recommend watching any of his videos on the channel. Fun and informative.