Just like last year’s 2012 list, I have another ‘year-end’ list, and this time it’s for 2013. Yes, you’re more than likely sick of reading these compilations, but here are my top 13 moments of 2013 in the world of soccer in the United States. Enjoy, friends.
13. USA vs. Panama
The final game in the US’s World Cup Qualifying road finished in Panama with a 3-2 win. Not only did Graham Zusi find the net for the second game in a row for WCQ – and save Mexico’s chances to receive a lifeline to get to the World Cup – but Aron Johannsson scored his first goal for the Yanks.
Graham Zusi goal:
Aron Johannsson goal:
12. USMNT = 2013 Gold Cup Champions
These games started the USMNT on their winning ways and quite frankly breezed through the Gold Cup. There were a few nervy moments but all in all, there were moments of enlightenment. The Gold Cup games ended up in the midst of a 12-game win streak in the summer from June 2 through August 14.
Watch below for highlights of the Final between the US and Panama.
11. National Soccer Hall of Fame Inductees
Before the USA vs. Jamaica World Cup Qualifier in Kansas City, Joe-Max Moore and Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes were inducted into the National Soccer HOF. Although many players who have been out of playing for some time don’t get the recognition they deserve, this was a great time – especially before the USA vs. Jamaica WCQ in Kansas City – to honor two incredible players.
10. MEXvUSA (Mexico City)
The start of a great year for the US while this may have been the start for a horrid year for Mexico. With Tim Howard in England for the USA vs. Costa Rica game a few days previous as well as this game, the US relied on Aston Villa goalkeeper, Brad Guzan. He led the Yanks’ backline, with a somewhat makeshift roster, to a nil-nil draw at Estadio Azteca. I’m always very impressed with the Graham Zusi run (start at 4:23) to thwart a Mexico goal. All in all, when you come away with at least a point versus Mexico, in Mexico, that’s a good day.
9. SKC vs. NE Revs (second leg of the MLS Eastern Conference Semis) – Seth Sinovic goal
Seth Sinovic, who is a left fullback, rarely scores but when he does it in the post-season. In the 2013 MLS season, Sinovic’s only goal was at a pivotal moment of the second leg game between Sporting KC and New England Revolution. After going down one goal on aggregate at Gillette Stadium for the first leg, KC had to make up the difference or not advance. Aurelien Collin eventually tied the aggregate score of the two games but once again Sporting were down. Then, in the 79th minute, Seth Sinovic blasted a shot into the goal from a Zusi-flicked header to tie the aggregate score to 3-3. Claudio Bieler, from a Feilhaber assist, then scored to win the game, 3-1, and the series on aggregate, 4-3. However important Bieler’s goal was, I still think that Sinovic’s was the most vital.
8. MLS’s Final Four Goal of the Year Nominees
Thankfully I made a great decision this year to sign up for MLS Live, the service MLS provides to watch all MLS games barring any local blackouts, and I was able to see each other these goals either on television or from MLS Live. I specifically remember being rendered speechless after seeing Camilo’s side bicycle kick volley. Each goal is beautiful in its own way, but these four goals show how the talent in MLS is growing and getting better every year.
7. USAvMEX (Columbus)
Another year, another dos a cero. This match against El Tri, again in Columbus, was a victory that clinched the United States attending the World Cup in Brazil. It may be debated for years to come if Clint Dempsey’s penalty was poorly taken or if God had other plans for the US team to beat Mexico 2-0, but regardless, the US came away with a great win against the neighbors to the south.
6. Matt Reis’s Greatest Save
Soccer players are often known for their resiliency and courage to keep playing when hurt but it’s not often that those factors come in handy for a soccer player to…save someone’s life. However, Matt Reis did just that. He was resilient, knowledgeable, courageous under fire, and quick thinking when his father-in-law was critically injured in the Boston Marathon bombings. Not only is the recently-retired Reis an incredible goalkeeper, he is an incredible man.
Although I was not in attendance, this will be a game I will always remember, as should every US soccer fan. While eating BBQ and waffle fries at Jethro’s in Des Moines with a friend, we watched with apprehension and humor while the blizzard happened in Commerce City, Colorado. As it turned out, this game was on – if my memory serves correct, a night when the NCAA March Madness tournament began – with lots of potential viewers to either soccer or basketball. At this casual restaurant with about 30 or so televisions, we kindly asked our server to change one – yes, just one TV – to the US soccer game. Our server was initially hesitant, knowing the college basketball games were on, but finally turned it for the USAvCRC match. Eventually people kept turning up to eat and by the end of the game, about 8 to 10 people were watching the soccer game with the other 40 or 50 people in the restaurant watching basketball. And though this explanation for the following video is far too long, my one request for any servers or hosts that read my blog (if there are any): if a patron asks to change one (again, yes, just one) TV to a soccer game, please do it without hesitation. People will watch and if it’s someone like me who asked to change it and ends up being the only one watching, they’ll be extremely appreciative. Regardless of my little digression, below is the highlight video of that game from March 22nd with USA vs. Costa Rica in an instant classic of a game…no matter how un-pretty of a game it truly was.
4. Atticus’ Army
This cool dude who was stricken with a tumor, Atticus Lane-Dupre, was given a gift through Make-A-Wish Oregon. Unlike most people his age, he chose to spend the day with his teammates playing the Portland Timbers in a scrimmage – which, I like calling it a friendly. These videos, no matter how many times I watch them, show me how important sport is to a kid’s life growing up – and yes, to adults as well – and how important friends are, too. The heart and soul behind people can be seen in how they show up, and that’s what Portland – as an organization – and the Timbers Army did for this kid. My props, prayers, and tears to you.
3. Abby Wambach becomes the all-time leading scorer for the USA
A feat set on June 20, 2013, Abby Wambach became the United States’ all-time leading goal scorer – for both men and women. After passing Mia Hamm’s record of 158, Wambach kept on scoring and continues to do so…and will keeping producing goals for years to come. Congratulations to Abby Wambach on the amazing accomplishment.
2. USA vs. Jamaica (KC WCQ)
This was to finally be the year – 2013 – that I experienced my first US Men’s National Team match in person. It was incredible and breathtaking and thrilling. The atmosphere was exuberant and the feeling of Sporting Park filled with joy. Although the USMNT already had their spot in the CONCACAF portion of the World Cup, Klinsmann’s men were prepared to excel. If you want my perspective on the game, check out my blog post I penned after attending the match in Kansas City. Also, take a look at the highlights below.
1. MLS Cup Final – SKC vs. RSL
Yes, I may be biased about this making number one but I really don’t care. This was a great final that was capped by the MLS team I support – Sporting Kansas City – achieving their goal by hoisting the MLS Cup. Because of a few unforeseen circumstances, I was unable to attend in person, but living in Chicago, I did the next best thing: The Globe Pub. During the post-season, Sporting Kansas City supporters – myself included – started showing up to watch the games. The Final didn’t have as many people as usual – because a good chunk of supporters went to KC for the match – but although we were fewer, we were still loud. My nervousness was shown through my pacing, but my excitement was shown in my reactions to each KC goal. Being a fan of different sports teams that don’t do incredibly well (read: don’t win championships), only made this MLS Final win all the more special. The word I’d use to explain my feelings of a team I support winning a championship: euphoria.