Remembering Clint Mathis’ best moments

ClintMathis2002 ( 

Photo by John Todd/

Even before the Mohawk, and the World Cup goal, and the five-goal game, Clint Mathis was making a name for himself as a Los Angeles Galaxy rookie some twelve years ago.

For these past dozen years, Mathis has wowed us, impressed us, frustrated us, disappointed us, and inspired us with his ability on the soccer field.

The moments are many, as are the number of American fans and players who were touched by the pure skill of one of the most entertaining American players of the past generation.

As a young sports writer who had endured the MetroStars nightmare season of 1999 as my first year covering professional socer, I was lucky enough to see the best years of Mathis' career, which reminded me how much fun it can be to watch soccer for a living.

For many of the MetroStars fans back then, Mathis re-instilled hope after an awful previous year, and surely inspired players across the country to believe an American player could be a skillful attacking player.

Here are ten (actually 11) moments I think were among the most memorable of Clint Mathis' career (complete with video clips for seven of them):

1. His World Cup goal in 2002 (at the 1:21 mark).

2. His five-goal game against Dallas in 2000.

3. His World Cup qualifying goal vs. Honduras in 2000 (at the 52-second mark). Sweet free kick finish.

4. His assist on Josh Wolff's goal to beat Mexico in 2001 (at the 5:35 mark).

5. His 60-yard slalom and score for the MetroStars in 2001(Against Dallas again).

6. His natural hat-trick (left foot, right foot, header) in 2001 for the MetroStars.

7. His volley blast for RSL last season

8. His successful penalty kick for RSL in the 2009 MLS Cup Final.

9. His stint with Hannover 96. He didn't stick around long, but scored some great goals, including this goal .

T10. His 'I Love New York' goal, the first of many for the MetroStars.

T10. His goal to set the MetroStars/Red Bulls record for career goals. Great goal in an exciting game. (yes, in retrospect, I had to add this goal. Fitting his first and last Metro/Red Bulls goals would be tied for 10th on this list.)


I'm sure there were many more moments I could have added, but these came to mind. Having seen half of these in person, and most of them as they happened live, I can say that they haven't lost their wow factor despite the years that have gone by.

Which of these were your favorites? Did you get nostalgic seeing the old video clips? If you're a young USA fan, watching the highlights of USA's 2-0 win against Mexico in 2001 (the clip for No. 5) is a must. Did you see any of these for the first time?

Share your thoughts on Mathis' career below.

This entry was posted in MLS- LA Galaxy, MLS- New York Red Bulls, U.S. Men's National Team. Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to Remembering Clint Mathis’ best moments

  1. GMD says:


    Best moment for me…

  2. GMD says:

    It’s not on the list, but his rocket volley for Red Bull against Becks and the Galaxy in the goal fest game was a fave..

  3. BSU SC says:

    His “tap the watch goal” was the beginning of the end of his career in Germany.

    Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. I was never a big fan of him in MLS (he never played for any team that I supported) but I’ll always appreciate his contributions to the 2002 World Cup effort.

  4. thedude says:

    US Soccer hero.

  5. Jim says:

    The 02 WC goal is a thing of beauty

    So much talent, so many big moments but always the feeling there should have been more

    We’ll miss you Clint

  6. oyeoro3 says:

    He should be commenting on the World Cup and MLS games not Alexi “I suck and everything soccer related” Lalas

  7. BlueWhiteLion says:

    i was there for his assist to Wolff. That was a pleasure to behold on a butt-freezin’ cold Columbus evening!

  8. Hopper says:

    I don’t know … he scored at least three or four goals for Hanover that any striker would be proud of. I know it’s hard to find video of them, but they still should be on the list. He also scored two goals against Germany in a friendly just prior to the 2002 World Cup, which put him on Bayern Munich’s radar.

  9. Jason says:

    I love NY goal video…

    link to

  10. Wm. says:

    Thanks for this feature. Glad you’re honoring him the way he deserves to be honored.

  11. Coach says:

    …and it made him top scorer in franchise history if I’m not mistaken

  12. Ben says:

    He was like our George Best, supremely talented but interested in partying as much as soccer. Note: this is an analogy. I am not saying that he is as good as Best.

  13. JP says:

    Had the privilege of watching Clint play in his start with the Galaxy. One of the first US players that seemed destined to stardom. Unfortunately, he became one of the most inconsistent top performers I’ve ever seen. Still, on average, he was good.

  14. Murphy says:

    great roundup Ives–the 2002 goal was so great… but that assist to wolff was also a perfectly weighted pass from a volley… good call Ives.

  15. I was in South Korea in 2002 and was behind the goal where he scored. One of the most thrilling experiences in my life by one of the most thrilling players in US Soccer history. Thanks for the memories, Clint. All the best, always…

  16. tommy w says:

    yes that one

  17. Mark says:

    I have the t-shirt that the Metrofanatic guys put together to commemorate Clint becoming the franchise leader in goals. Never been worn, but I did take it out the other day to admire it after I heard the news about Clint retiring.

  18. William the Terror says:

    The 2002 WC goal off an amazing pass from another fallen hero, Mr. John O’Brien. Thanks for the memories, boys.

  19. STL Soccer Fan says:

    Man Korea were allowed to do whatever they wanted in the 2002 World Cup. I definitely believe those games were fixed but dear God was Friedel a beast in goal, he wouldn’t let FIFA get what they wanted out of that one.

  20. Seth says:

    He was amazing when he was at his best. The most exciting attacking player the US has produced up to this point. Also loved the fact that he was a good ol southern boy.

  21. r.benjamin says:

    What an epic game that 2002 v S.Korea was! Wow. The crowd, the near chances.. Great goal by Mathis.. Super dodgy penalty.. and what a monster Friedel is/was.

    Mathis.. you had to like him.. sort of. You can’t be dissapointed but you always thought there coulda been more.

    The second paragraph in this column wraps it up perfectly.

  22. ga-gone says:

    video of the volley against the Galaxy
    link to

  23. ga-gone says:

    video of the volley against the Beckham galaxy side

    link to

  24. Steve T. says:

    He was the sole reason I starting buying season tickets to Metro/RBNY back in 2001. I met him in Johnny Rockets in Hoboken. He was eating a bowl of chilli with one of his friends. He said a prayer, blessed himself and dug in. He was humble and kind and chatted with me for a minute or two even though I was interupting him. Signed a napkin for me and wished me the best. I’ll never forget it, was always me favorite player since then bar none.

  25. Steve T. says:

    “me favorite player”…im a pirate today arrr!

    But you get my drift.

  26. Ian says:

    Awesome list! Amazing what Clint could do on the field and really wish we had some more Americans with his swagger. He will be missed.

  27. Danny says:

    Farewell my favorite Metrostar/Red Bull player of all time…He definitely brought memories and no doubt is a legend…I will never forget that goal he scored against South Korea…There will never be a player like Mathis…I mean his probably the only soccer player in the world to have a stat that says every time he scored for his team they have NEVER LOST a game (During his time with the MetroStars/Red Bulls)…That’s just a ridiculous stat lol…Does anybody even though the official record?…I’m surprised nobody has said anything about that stat

  28. Che says:

    Never mind the idiots wondering what could have been… Cletus (not Clint) was my favorite US player ever. The coolest and he could really play. I would pay my ticket and sit through a Metro game just to see him.

  29. Erik says:

    just watching the first clip I remembered how great the World Cup was before FIFA refused to ban those stupid horns this year.

  30. BetaMale says:

    Yup, I always laugh when I think of his “tap the watch” goal. It was a great rip.

  31. Brice says:

    Clint Mathis, you were my first American Hero for the US National Team. Thank you for everything that you did for the US National Team and MLS. It was an honor being your fan. I can only hope I run into you some day at a bar. : )

  32. kpugs says:

    Great piece, I wish he retired as a Red Bull.

  33. JoeW says:

    What an amazing talent. He’s also the poster child for missed opportunity, for failing to get in-shape and focus and prepare and thus squander a chunk of your career (though Freddy Adu is gunning to take that poster-child status away from him). I look at what Mathis did, I look at what he became in the end (a savvy player who showed he could play “D”, work hard to contribute even when he didn’t have the ball) and you think about what might have happened if he’d had anything close to decent athletic shape and some focus after his initial success.

  34. johnnygolightly says:

    seriously why is his goal vs. bayern munich in the friendly with the metrostars not on here. i remember watching that highlight video over and over again.

  35. Josh says:

    MLS won’t be the same without him. He literally made me a fan in 2000.

    While it’s easy to remember the partying, I think his knees played a much bigger part in his career arc than people think. After that first injury, he *never* regained his explosiveness, and I wonder how much it contributed to his more stationary displays in the later years of his career.

  36. Thomas says:

    One of my favorite US players of all time. Didn’t he have Bud on tap in his NY apartment or something? On the way back from my honeymoon, I realized my wife and I would be driving near Conyers, GA. We made a pilgrimage to his hometown and I still have the picture by the road sign in the wedding album.

  37. X says:

    Dear God let this happen.

  38. KEEP says:

    I believe he was on “cribs” and they showcased his beloved bud taps….cant think of another soccer player that was on that show

  39. Mike says:

    When I think of Clint Mathis, I think of what could have been. He had the skill set to be the most dominant player of his generation. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the health or the discipline.

  40. Hush says:

    Really? I know Clint was an ok player, but know where near LALAS talent. People are getting a little to carried away with Clint. :) I personally think el senor Lalas is always on the money. He is also the only American to have huevos and say to the Mexicans on futbol Picante, you are not that

  41. Vince Clortho says:

    He also had a 40 yard corker of a free kick during his first stint with RSL as well as an ejection for kicking the ball 100 feet in the air after arguing with the ref…Probably his top moments in that first stint…

  42. Tony in Quakeland says:

    As frustrating as he could be…I’m going to miss him. Thanks, Clint!

  43. Wm. says:

    Yah, Friedel definitely stood on his head in that game.

  44. McHead says:

    Clint Mathis was nothing but a punk who never lived up to expectations because he was lazy. I don’t understand all the love. But then again, most of it comes from Metro/Red Bull fans who have never won a damn thing in their futile existence. Mathis demonstrates everything that is wrong with talent without substance. I won’t miss him one bit. Good riddance.

  45. Bryan says:

    I liked mathis a lot. I met him several times when he played in Dallas and I’ll never forget the “mowhawk” promotion that Dallas Burn did after 02 WC. Get a mowhawk and get a free ticket in the game and to meet Clint after the game. I did it and Clint = cool dude. (even though he always seemed to burn my Dallas team). Thanks for us national team goal against Korea Clint!

  46. tsingletonvt says:

    Clint was always one of my favorites. In his prime you had the feeling that anything could happen when he was on the field. I really wish he had been given more playing time in the 2002 world cup and that MLS had let him go in the following transfer window.

    As much as I love him he will always remain a little bit of a “what if?” regarding his knees, his training, discipline, etc. A Mathis at/near his peak could have really helped over the last six years.

    There was an urban legend/internet rumor that he yelled “tie game” as he took a shot against Germany in the 2002 WC QF. It was probably not true, but it was something you could imagine him doing.

  47. Len says:

    He did take a volley or half volley in the dying minutes of the ’02 WC game against Germany that looked headed for net that I believe it was Jens Jeremier (?sp) just got a toe on. I’m glad to see some of the love here for him. IMO he was a unique American vertical attacking player as good at the killer pass as at finishing. If his career could have been better, it was still pretty damn good. I’d tune in to watch him. Mostly I saw attacking moves that no other American could generate. Sometimes,I’d see his temper go off and out he’d go with a red card and the game often wasn’t worth watching anymore. Thanks for some great soccer memories Clint!

  48. Matt says:

    His half volley-half missile for RSL last season was ABSURD!

  49. carl says:

    I was at the natural hat trick game….I will never forget it. His vision and passing always seemed above where he was playing. One of my all time favorite players, good luck in your future!

  50. Brian says:

    Is there a video of the “tap the watch” goal? Sounds like pure swagger to me

  51. JB says:

    Cleatus’ departure is a big reason rsl are chasing supporters shield this year instead of sub-500. He could be lazy to an extreme and there was just no place to hide him on defense. The moments of offensive brilliance were too few to justify the sometimes contagious lethargy he brought to the pitch.

  52. Nova99 says:


  53. Test says:

    Met him many times in his early gaLAxy days. He even got me in to celabrate with them in the Staples center when they won the western conferece back in 98 or 99? They should have never let him go. I still don’t understand why he is retireing. Is he injured? He sure dosent look to be in shape. Anybody know why? All the best Cletus!!

  54. Matt says:

    Gotta admit, after his red card (in the galaxy game i think) when Findley didn’t get a penalty really made me dislike him, but that goal against NE was fantastic.