Donovan's goal the Moment of the Year
The editorial staff at MLSsoccer.com is looking back over the year with our "Best of 2010" awards, running Dec. 13 through Jan. 2. Each day we'll hand out an award from a variety of categories culled from the storylines of Major League Soccer and the North American soccer scene.
Today we look back at the Moment of the Year: Landon Donovan’s game-winning goal against Algeria in the World Cup on June 23. We asked our staff to recall exactly what they were doing when Donovan scored, and we start off with the person who probably had the best seat of us all: our videographer.
Scott Riddell, videographer
This is where I was when it happened. And you can pretty much see what I was thinking. It still gives me goosebumps.
Jonah Freedman, managing editor
I had a pretty good view of Landon's miracle – from the press seats at Loftus Versfeld. I'll be totally honest: I was so sure the game was finished, I was already writing a game recap detailing how the US had blown it again, failing to get out of the group stage at a second straight World Cup. Then I looked up. And I saw it all develop. Somehow, you could tell what was about to happen. All us media types could feel it, too. When Donovan deposited that rebound, all the US fans in attendance went nuts as the team dogpiled by the corner flag.
And all us scribes put our heads back down, rewriting our leads as fast as we could. Just business as usual. I've never been more happy to be proven wrong. Those postgame interviews were some of the easiest I've ever done.
Noah Davis, US national team correspondent
There's no crying in baseball, and there's no cheering in a World Cup press box. As the Untied States struggled to break down Algeria - coming close again and again but never finding the finishing touch - I sat in stoic silence with the rest of the American journalist corps in Pretoria's Loftus Versfeld Stadium. As 80 minutes ticked over to 85 and the clock inched toward full-time, we wrote our stories detailing how the hustling but exhausted American side didn't have quite enough. It was a depressing scene, if as much for the long faces of American fans as because the four-year cycle was coming to an end.
And then... Donovan. The stadium erupted. Bars across America exploded. Living room floors doubled as trampolines.
There's no crying in the press box, but the briefest of cheers - involuntary ones, of course - following the most epic of goals is, apparently, acceptable. And then we frantically rewrote our stories to reflect how Landon altered history.
Greg Lalas, editor-in-chief
It was a Wednesday. A nice day in New York, if I remember correctly. The majority of the editorial staff at MLSsoccer.com gathered in the board room at MLS headquarters.
Most of the league office would pop in now and then, which kind of confused us. How could they not be in there with us, watching every minute, inhaling sharply with every close call?
Anyway, it all looked lost late in the game. By then, more people had filled the board room. Maybe they were interested to see the final minutes--the end for the US. We all looked at each other cluelessly, like we had all lost our keys and weren't sure where to even begin looking for them. Then, Howard got the ball, distributed, and the break was on. In truth, I don't think anyone thought anything would come of it. But when it did, when Landon put the ball into the net, the entire room exploded. Cheers shook the walls. The table quakes from fists pounding in joy. Colleagues hugged like family. I hadn't shed a tear about a sporting event in decades. But this one did it. For me, that lifts it to rarified heights.
David Agrell, new media editor
The day began with plenty of hope — too much, really. For the key match, the MLSsoccer.com staff assembled in the board room where the atmosphere was tense, but confident. As the game wore on, the playful banter became more sincere until, as the 90th minute approached, it was downright depressing. Actually, I'm sure we were individually rewriting ledes and headlines.
But then it happened — the moment I'll never forget. Donovan fired home the winner and I completely lost it. I remember hugging one of the website's technical crew like he was a long-lost friend. That particular moment didn't become awkward until at least the following day.
Nick Firchau, new media editor
I have a strange habit of watching big, big games in private. That means whenever my teams reach the heights of potential tear-jerking success – the World Series, a BCS game, the Super Bowl – I’m usually camped out by myself, largely because I’m afraid to exhibit the behavior that would cause friends and loved ones to raise an eyebrow. This match was no different – the rest of the staff was upstairs and I was bunkered down four floors below, gradually coming to the realization I should probably find a depressing photo of Tim Howard that could speak volumes when I posted it as the main image on the web site.
Then, of course, came the moment we all celebrated, and a wild, cathartic yelp from the bowels of MLS headquarters in New York City. Savored the moment, thanked the heavens I DVR’d the game back home, and trashed that Tim Howard photo.
Fidencio Enriquez, new media editor
As Landon Donovan led a counterattack – the US’ bread and butter – in the 90th minute against Algeria to decide the Nats’ fate in the World Cup, I sat on the edge of my suddenly uncomfortably couch in anguish. As Clint Dempsey was denied point-blank by ‘keeper Rais Bolhi, I thought that was it. As I saw Donovan streak in to find the rebound, I jumped up. And as the US mid found the net and ran towards the corner flag, I ran with him (I literally sprinted through my apartment).
Too bad there's already a movie called Goal (featuring Mexican actor Kuno Becker) because Disney would probably be all over that. And I’d watch it, just to relive that moment.
Shawn Francis, MLS Insider
I was watching the game with other staffers in the board room at MLS HQ and was more than half-way to completion of a blog post entitled “Where in World was Landon Donovan vs. Algeria?” when he buried the rebound off of Dempsey’s shot. When it went in I stood up so quickly that I almost sent my chair careening into the trophy case behind me...which would have been as big of a disaster as the U.S. bowing out of the tournament ahead of the Round of 16 (to me personally at least).
Needless to say that post never got published and Donovan’s now-signature goal pushed the Yanks into the next round for the first time since the 2002 tournament. It also pushed the team into the mass conscious of the American public for the first time ever (and Landon onto the front page most of America’s major dailies) which in the end might have been a bigger win than a victory against Ghana.
Greg Seltzer, American Exports correspondent
I had already begun scribbling general notes to use in what looked to be a forlorn US Player Ratings intro. When Howard's vital outlet throw reached a streaking Donovan at midfield, I put my pen down to watch knowing it would the last chance, and a good one at that. When the rebound platter-ed up for Donovan, I calmly scratched out my initial notes to start building a new intro. Everything changed for the team and the fans in those few seconds, and I felt the buzz even in work mode on my Amsterdam couch.
Matthew Doyle, Armchair Analyst
I was working temporarily at MLSsoccer.com world headquarters, filling in for those lucky enough to head overseas. We watched the projection of the game on the wall of the boardroom, and I sat at the end of the giant conference table trying to be unobtrusive. When things started getting really tense, I recall that I pushed my drink off to the side so that it wouldn't be in my way if I punched something.
No such luck. When Donovan scored, I lurched spasmodically to the side and knocked it all over the nearest seat. That's how I ended up surreptitiously cleaning club soda off of Commissioner Garber's chair while everyone around me celebrated the most momentous US goal in 21 years.
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