photo by Feda Krvavac/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
There was an abundance of goals scored by the U.S. Men’s National Team in 2013, and many of them came from the ‘Wow’ department.
A busy year for the U.S. saw it find the back of the net 51 times and the wide arrange of weapons in the Americans’ arsenal was on full display throughout those finishes. There were one-timed strikes, well-taken headers, lightning-fast counterattacks, and even a stunning free kick.
SBI re-watched all of those goals and came up with its annual top five list that is based on a number of factors, including but not limited to the quality of the finish and its importance. Some tough cuts were made, including Joe Corona’s curling game-winner vs. Cuba in the Gold Cup and Aron Johannsson’s well-placed winner vs. Panama in World Cup qualifying, but each of the goals that made it onto the list did so with plenty of good reason.
Before we all usher in a World Cup year, here are SBI’s Top Five USMNT Goals of 2013:
5. Eddie Johnson vs. Panama, June 11
The pass and first-touch were sublime. The finish was clinical. Eddie Johnson’s strike at CenturyLink Field vs. Panama in a summer World Cup qualifier was not only a beautiful play back in a time when things were still rosy for the veteran striker in Seattle, but it also gave the Americans a needed insurance goal that allowed them to breathe a little easier. Geoff Cameron picked out Johnson’s marauding run on the right flank with an inch-perfect pass, and Johnson proceeded to bringing down the ball with a classy first touch before hitting a left-footed curler into the corner of the net to give the U.S. a 2-0 victory.
4. Brek Shea vs. Costa Rica, July 16
The finish was not the prettiest, some might even say lucky, but the sequence leading up to it was. Brek Shea’s late winner in a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in their Gold Cup group stage finale at Rentschler Field came courtesy of a quick counterattack that reminded U.S. fans that Jurgen Klinsmann’s side still has that available in its repertoire. After Costa Rica came close to finding the back of the net on a corner kick, the U.S. pushed forward aggressively to exploit space and Joe Corona hit Landon Donovan with a good ball on the right flank before Donovan one-timed a quality ball into the path of a streaking Shea.
3. Clint Dempsey vs. Germany, June 2
Clint Dempsey is known for being able to create something out of nothing, and that is exactly what he did against Germany in the U.S.’s Centennial Celebration match at RFK Stadium. Dempsey netted his second of the day in that friendly on an individual effort, capitalizing on lax defending by hitting a left-footed curler into the top left corner from distance. The U.S. captain’s goal gave Klinsmann’s team a commanding 4-1 lead, but it wound up serving as the game-winner after Germany scored twice more to make things interesting in the waning moments of the entertaining bout.
2. Jozy Altidore vs. Germany, June 2
Earlier in that game against the Germans, Jozy Altidore scored on a gorgeous strike of his own. Altidore was in the midst of a scoring drought that had plenty of critics questioning his place in the U.S. lineup, but you would not have been able to tell by the way he took his chance in the first half. The goal came when Graham Zusi collected a Clint Dempsey pass and unleashed a cross from the right flank that Altidore finished with a powerful one-timed volley, stunning Germany and bringing the American fans in attendance to their feet.
1. Jozy Altidore vs. Bosnia & Herzegovina, Aug. 14
If you thought Altidore’s last strike was nice, you might be in for a real treat. In one of the more dominant performances in U.S. Soccer history, Altidore helped inspire an impressive U.S. comeback in a road friendly vs. Bosnia & Herzegovina with a hat-trick performance that included a late bending free kick. Altidore masterfully curled his attempt from about 24 yards over the wall and into the back of the net to give his team a 3-2 lead in Sarajevo and the game eventually ended 4-3 in the Americans’ favor, marking the first time the U.S. had rallied for a victory on European soil.
What do you think of SBI’s Top 5 USMNT Goals of 2013? Agree with the order? Should another strike have made it onto the list?
Share your thoughts below.