Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"What If" Wednesday

Boomer is back with another installment of "What If" Wednesday. Today is a unusual Wednesday with it being "Leap Day", 2012 is a Leap Year, so we are blessed with the 29th day of February. ENJOY!

Donovan's Goal vs. Algeria
The 2010 World Cup was something special for the United States Men's National Soccer Team. After two straight draws in their first two group games (1-1 vs. England  & 2-2 vs. Slovenia), Team USA was forced with a Win or Go Home scenario. Facing their 3rd opponent, Algeria, Team USA chances of moving on in the tournament were not looking good after 90 mins of PT. However, after a nice save and outlet pass by Goalie Tim Howard to Landon Donovan, things were in store for one epic play. As Donovan raced down the sideline, he eventually passed the ball off to forward Jozy Altidore, who found a wide open Clint Dempsey in front of the goal. Dempsey's shot was blocked by the Algeria goalie, and it looked like it wasn't going to be USA's day, but on the rebound Landon Donovan buried the ball into the back of the open net, GOAL!!!! Team USA ended up holding off Algeria in the final minutes of stoppage time to win the game, as well, as Group C. Truly, a great moment in USA Sports History, that if you saw it LIVE on TV, you watched on repeat for about an hour after the game (ME). The Men's Team would eventually lose their next game to Ghana (2-1 in extra time) in the Round of 16.

"What If"
Clearly, one the greatest moment in USA Men's Soccer History, might not of ever happened. If Algeria knowing that the USA needed a win to advance in the tourney, where able to just keep the ball away from the USA for a couple more minutes. What about the shot on goal that Tim Howard grabbed, some how split by him? Or the excellent outlet pass doesn't reach a wide open Donovan? If Altidore tries to win it with a cross that would of clearly went right over the net. What if Dempsey's blocked shot goes sky high up into the South Africa air, instead of rolling right on the turf to Donovan's foot? It's truly a great "what if" moment, that as a USA fan you wouldn't of wanted it to go any other way. What If...

Now to refresh your memory of the moment:

Wambach's Goal vs. Brazil
Oh no, she didn't...
Lightning strikes twice? It sure did, just over a year since Donovan and the Men's National team had a impossible finish of a soccer game, the Women's National team would write their own chapter in USA Soccer history. The women facing the Brazilian Women's  National soccer squad, found themselves down 2 goals to 1, with just a little bit of stoppage time left. That's when lightning would strike twice, after receiving a pass on the sideline, Megan Rapinoe took a couple dribbles and fired a beautiful cross, that found the forehead of forward Abby Wambach and the soccer ball went flying into the back of Brazil's goal. With the score now, 2 to 2, the game went into penalty kicks, with the USA women coming out on top, 5 to 3. Again, after Donovan's goal I didn't think I could witness another great soccer moment, but Wambach's heroics proved me wrong. The women would eventually lose the World Cup Final, to Japan, but we will always have that play for Brazil to look back on and enjoy.

"What If"
I'm going to be honest, I actually missed the play when it first happened, turning the game off in just pure frustration, thinking that the women were going to lose this game and be out of the tournament earlier then expected. However, I was back to watch the PK shots and enjoy the multiple replays of Wambach's header. Lets say Rapinoe's pass isn't right on target and is off by a foot or two? What if the Brazilian goalie was able to get just a finger tip and move the ball off course? What if Wambach's header skies over the goal? Again, another great moment in USA soccer history. What if...

I mean what are the chances, that within just over a year, that both the Men's and Women's National Soccer Teams would have moments like this, I still got goosebumps watching the two plays as I was writing this article. Thank you for letting me share with you again, two "What If" moments in sports history. Enjoy your Leap Day!