Our beloved Brew.

Our beloved Brew.
R.I.P. Big guy.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Real Worth of Landon Donovan's Stunning US Goal in the 2010 World Cup

Landon Donovan scored an extra-time winning goal for the US against Algeria to bring the American team back from the brink of despair and elimination. Some have called the goal the most important in the history of US soccer. I agree, but for reasons beynd the obvious advancement of the team into the second round of this year's World Cup.

Although I have often criticized Donovan over the years, I am prepared to admit I am wrong about his development and leadership. Moreover, the manner in which he scored this goal is equally as important as the goal itself.

Donovan made himself available to the Tim Howard, the US goalie as soon as Howard made a save against a threatening Algerian attempt on goal. Even with time dwindling, Donovan didn't panic, he didn't heave the ball upfield as most American players are wont to do. He used his speed, ball possession skills and vision to launch a counterattack, something that most youth coaches in this country don't teach often, or well enough.

From the moment little kids step on the soccer field, some coach, parent or other misinformed adult begins to shout "pass!" Soccer in America has resembled pinball rather than the strategic game of skills and movement it is meant to be.

With Donovan's goal, young (and older) players have an example to emulate which encourages possessing the ball, taking on opponents, and distributing the ball only when it makes tactical sense. Perhaps the greatest example Donovan set was the continuation of his run after passing to Jozy Altidore who took the original shot at the Algerian goal. When the keeper allowed the ball to rebound away, Donovan was there to calmly collect it in stride and confidently tuck it into the back of the net. His effort was not a fluke, nor merely a matter of being fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. If you watch his run from the outset, you will see that he never slowed, nor did he hesitate to take up a position in front of the net that gave him a chance for a rebound, and an open lane to the goal.

If he never scores another goal for the US, Donovan has secured his place as the most accomplished player to ever don a uniform for this country. The manner of play in which he scored this particular goal is a model for every player who seeks to elevate their game to the level of world class.