I wanted to take a moment away from the various US Soccer-related accusations and recriminations to just remember and share with you some of my favorite international goals, going back as far as I can remember. These aren’t necessarily the greatest goals or the most meaningful goals, but they’re just a few of the ones that have really stuck with me over the years.
June 18th, 1994. Two goals that have forever stuck with me on really what I realize now to be the first day I ever paid attention to professional soccer. If I had to look back at a single day when I decided this was a sport I wanted to follow, this was it. Until I looked back on Wikipedia just now, I didn’t even remember that these two were on the same day.
The first match that day was the early lunchtime kickoff between the USA and Switzerland. The Swiss had taken a fairly predictable lead, but then less than 10 minutes later, this happened. [ame=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHtbb3yd9wM&feature=related”%5DYouTube- Eric Wynalda’s free kick against Switzerland in 94[/ame]
As much as I remember the goal, I remember my mother racing down the stairs asking, “What’s wrong!?!” thinking, because of the noise my Dad and I made, that someone had hurt themselves.
The second match that day was the unbelievable Italy-Ireland match. I remember my father trying to explain to me how the Italians played the ball in little triangles while the Irish shoved the ball downfield as directly as possible. I mainly focused on the sheer scene of it. I don’t think I’d ever heard a crowd on TV as loud or as crazy as the mostly-Irish crowd was that day at Giants Stadium. Then, this happened. [ame=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXauYVy_dws”%5DYouTube- Ray Houghton USA 94 Ireland v Italy[/ame]
In hindsight, it’s easy to focus on Bob Ley and Ty Keough totally butchering the call, but it was a hell of a strange goal. Not exactly a thunderbolt. Only later on did I realize what an upset that match was. I guess, early on after that match, I was just under the impression that Ireland was better than Italy. What did I know? That was the only match that I’d seen the two ever play up to that point.
Next up is a slightly random favorite of mine. It was October 7, 2006 and I was having one of my “degenerate soccer days” with Euro 2008 qualifiers in the morning and DC United hosting the Revs in the evening. That morning, I scanned the soccer TV listings and saw that either I could pay $20 to watch England-Macedonia at one bar or I could head to my local favorite Kitty O’Shea’s and watch Scotland host France for free. I stewed about it for a bit before allowing my cheaper side win out and heading out to Arlington for Scotland-France. Now, I am no fan of Scotland. But, I was a fan of France previously, but this was 2006 and France was helmed by none other than Raymond Domenech which had made the team utterly unwatchable. I was joined at Kitty’s by around another dozen or so mostly Scottish folks. I was introduced to joys of watching Scotland when another patron asked me, apropos of nothing, “Celtic or Rangers,” and before I answered quickly, “Arsenal and Jewish too.” Luckily, the other guy smiled and laughed and I’d made it to the kickoff of a Scotland match without any sectarian incident. We were lucky enough to have a simulcast of the BBC Scotland feed which featured this great call. [ame=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZBK7JfB7ow”%5DYouTube- Scotland 1 France 0[/ame]
What’s not to like in this scene? The commentators are great. Caldwell’s face after scoring and his celebration are just perfect. The whole of Hampden park literally bounces as the Proclaimers ring out. The commentator even gets in a little dig at former Scotland manager Berti Vogts when he narrates “Walter Smith celebrates with 50,000 other Scots.” Scotland hung on to win, though they would just barely miss out on qualifying later on. Meanwhile, across the street, those who had paid $20 to watch England saw them draw 0-0. I don’t think I’ve ever made a better viewing decision.
June 15, 1996. England-Scotland in Euro 96. I remember this match because I had to beg out of going to a Hebrew school classmate’s Bat Mitzvah to watch this. I didn’t like her all that much and figured England-Scotland, which ESPN was showing live, would make for a far better morning. I was lucky enough to see this.
[ame=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0NT6aUwN8c&feature=related”%5DYouTube- Paul Gascoigne Euro96[/ame]
I should also add that I didn’t realize the meaning, humor, and then irony behind the celebration until many years later.
I’ll end it with my favorite, and it was one I had the pleasure of seeing live. It was September 3, 2000. We were seated in the upper deck, almost surrounded by Guatemalans. I remember seeing two body painted US fans dancing around the the upper bowl aisle before getting pelted with every bit of garbage and or beer one group of Guatemalan fans could find. It was unlike any sporting event I’d ever been to at that point. I know the video quality is crap, but it wouldn’t matter. Unless you were, you simply have no idea how loud that stadium got when McBride scored. It was simply unreal. I know the USA-Mexico matches in Columbus are great, I’ve been to 2-of-the-3, but nothing matches this. [ame=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=et43GhLabXI”%5DYouTube- 2002 WCQ: Brian McBride scores vs Guatemala[/ame]
What are some of your favorite international goals?