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Best Soccer Moment of 2002

In this playful piece, we pose a question or make a statement about something in soccer that will be opined about, agreed and disagreed on, by YOU, the reader. No more talking heads giving safe, politically correct answers. Those days are over. Instead, we’ve opened the floor to everyone out there in Cyberland to throw in their two cents.

December’s question was: What was the single greatest soccer moment of 2002?

With it being a World Cup year, and with our U.S. boys doing so dern (sic) well over there, it’s no surprise that the top three vote-getters for the above question involved the U.S. Men’s National Team and their exploits this summer. Brian McBride’s classic finish of a Tony Sanneh header to deliver the 3-0 lead in the 36th minute of the 3-2 upset over Portugal led the way and was perfectly captured by Chris Ferris . Below are that and seven other of the top responses, sorted chronologically by moment:

1) McBride’s game-winning goal and/or the 3-2 win over Portugal:

"The moment I remember with the most joy, disbelief, pride, shock and wonder was Brian McBride's game-winning goal against Portugal. My wife was 8 1/2 months pregnant at the time so I was up watching the games alone, careful not to disturb her precious sleep. After John O'Brien's goal I leapt

so high off the couch I almost hit my head on the ceiling – but I didn’t wake my wife up… Then when Landon Donovan’s cross deflected into the Portuguese net, I could barely contain myself. I squeezed my fists together and bit my tongue, but didn’t utter a sound. But when Tony Sanneh glided up the right wing and sent an inch-perfect cross to McBride, I couldn’t hold in the emotion and excitement any longer. I burst into the bedroom and stage-whispered to my wife: ‘Honey, the U.S. is up 3 – 0 in the first half!’ ‘Against Portugal?’ she asked, half-awake (even in her semi-slumber my wonderful wife knew that the U.S. going up three goals against Portugal was a big deal). ‘Yeah, against Portugal!’ I replied. ‘That’s really great, honey,’ she mumbled. I staggered back into the living room and watched as the Yanks held on in the second half to finally win 3-2. The rest of the year in soccer, while wonderful, was somehow anticlimactic after that one breath-taking, wonderful moment when the U.S. posted a three-goal lead against Portugal. So thank you to Brian McBride, Tony Sanneh, and all the other guys who made that the best soccer moment of 2002 for me."
- Chris Ferris / 33 / Bellaire, Texas

"My response to this question would be Brian McBride's goal against Portugal in this year's World Cup. At 1-0 up after John O'Brien's goal, it was well within the realm of possibility to see a 2-1, 3-1 or even 4-1 loss given what we'd seen in 1998--so much of the game was still left. After Landon Donovan's carom job to make it 2-0, I still wasn't completely comfortable. After all, it was a fluke goal. But when the third one came, and being as pretty a goal as it was because of slack Portuguese defending, I got the feeling that the game was turning into a rout and that the U.S. team was going to put an enormous hurt on one of the pre-tournament favorites. Even though it didn't turn out that way, without that goal perhaps the game ends as a 2-2 draw and the U.S. doesn't have nearly the confidence (or points) it needed to get itself through group play to the quarterfinals. And no, I'm not related (that I know of) to Brian McBride. If I was, perhaps I could have seen the games live in Korea."
- Christopher McBride / 40 / Manalapan, N.J.

"In my mind there is no doubt as to the greatest single moment for American soccer in 2002. We all know how loudly we groan when our team hits the crossbar or misses a critical goal during a goalmouth incident, but that sound pales in comparison to the eruption when we convert! Judging solely by the decibel level in my home during 2002, not one moment came close to the third goal vs. Portugal in the U.S.A.'s first game of the World Cup. My poor wife was trying to sleep!! The crowd in our T.V. room could have been heard from Anchorage, where we live, all the way to South Korea. It was as close to dancing in the streets as I've ever seen for U.S. Soccer. We were especially pumped because our friend, Pablo Mastroeni, who came to Alaska to coach clinics for our Northern Lights Soccer Club in January of 2000, was proving in that game that he can not only shut down some of the world's great attacking players, but he can also begin or sustain an attack in transition. Portugal's first goal came all too soon, but for that one single moment, U.S. Soccer, our men no less, had the attention of the entire world."
- Roger Benedict / Anchorage, Ala.

"The Best Single Moment of U.S. Soccer of 2002 for me was the morning of Wednesday, June the 5th (2002), and waking up early (4:00am) to watch the U.S. Men's National Team play in the 2002 World Cup, and soundly beat the heck out of Portugal!!! I felt the old pain and the embarrassment of the U.S. MNT's 1998 World Cup failure lift off my heart. I was in joy, crying and deliriously happy that our U.S. MNT played so outstanding, took no prisoners, and gave as good as it got. And, our boys beat a team that had been considered a contender for the World Cup trophy at the start of the tournament. I felt proud and happy about our USMT. I could finally tell-off all my Mexican-American friends; my U.S. team was better then Mexico's!! It felt great!!!! God bless all our young men on our U.S. team. I may be around for the next World Cup, but if not, I can go happy. Thanks, United States Men's National Team."
- Leo Perez

"The image that is burned in my mind is Brian McBride's winning goal against Portugal. It was a world class goal that sent a statement that the U.S. was there to play and win. His reaction to the goal also defined the attitude of team during the 2002 World Cup. Something special was going to happen from then on."
- Don Rogers / 31 / Madison, Wisc.

2) McBride’s game winner in the 8th minute of the 2-0 win over Mexico:

"The single greatest moment of 2002 for US Soccer was the first strike against Mexico in the World Cup. Of course it was a fine goal, produced by fine buildup and multiple brilliant plays, and its significance is obvious, but what that goal truly meant to anyone involved in soccer in the U.S. was literally priceless and magical. For anyone from the players on the field, to National Team-ers not at the World Cup, to everyone at U.S. Soccer, to the fans who had cheered at friendlies and qualifiers for years or even decades, that goal was the final fruition of millions of hopes. You could say that it was just the first goal of the match, but you would be undervaluing it I think. It was Mexico. It was World Cup. It was knockout. It was the exclamation point of a shout. For our part, myself and my two best friends didn't see the next five minutes of the match because we were too busy running around my apartment and screaming in the middle of the night. For us, it was the single greatest moment of any year in U.S. Soccer--we are so proud and thanks for the memory you guys. ‘Adios Amigos!’"
- Earl Grey / Baltimore, Md.

3) The performance in the 1-0 quarter-final loss to Germany:

"The greatest single moment in American soccer in 2002, in my mind, was the game against Germany in the World Cup. Even though the scoreboard showed Germany 1, USA 0, the whole world saw that the U.S. team was for real, and that we are a force to contend with on the international stage. For 90 minutes, we had outplayed and outhustled the German soccer machine. If not for the brilliance of Oliver Kahn, we would have advanced. The Germany vs. USA game put the whole world on notice that the US is a serious threat to raise the cup, and earned the U.S. something it has never had: respect from its soccer peers."
- Chris Almeras / 27 / Indianapolis, Ind.

"Every parent who has ever watched his/her son/daughter in a tough, well-played game knows the feeling of swelling pride that settles in when the teams begin to play on guts alone. The character of the individual players, the team spirit, the sheer will to win overshadows brilliant coaching, personal glory, and even strategy. I had that feeling in the MNT quarterfinal loss to Germany. It was that match that established the U.S. as a world power on the pitch, not the Mexico win."
- Don Monfort

Thanks to everyone for the passionate responses to the December question. Obviously, we couldn’t print all of them, but keep responding and you’ll get your chance to see your name among these other opinionated folks in the months to come.

Now for January 2003. There’s no question, really. Instead, what we want are reviews of the “Our Way” documentary [NOW AVAILABLE ON DVD AND VHS FOR $30 EXCLUSIVELY AT]. Everyone loves to play critic, so it shouldn’t be hard to come up with a review of a maximum 150 words telling us what you loved, what you were surprised by, and any other comments about the unique project.

E-mail your well-crafted review to, including your full name, age and city of residence. Feel free to submit responses for as many months as you wish, but in the interest of sharing the spotlight, we will be giving space to different respondents from month to month.


Table of Contents
1) Armchair Midfielder (And the Winner Is…)
2) In Threes (w/ WNT forward Shannon MacMillan)
3) All I Want for Christmas Is… (w/ NT Staff, Players)
4) Queries and Anecdotes (w/ MNT midfielder Chris Armas)
5) Mark That Calendar (2002 Voting Deadlines)
6) Superstar!!! (w/ U-23 MNT forward Alecko Eskandarian)
7) FAN Point/Counterpoint (Best Soccer Moment of 2002)
8) "You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall)" (Chevy AOTY trivia) 

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