Content on the internet is a funny thing. Ideas come from any corner of our world. Be it from personal inspiration, outside suggestion or just completely stealing someone else’s brainchild and putting your spin on it. Today, we pull from the comments section and take an idea given to us by longtime and dedicated commenter Greggtsh. Their idea was for our staff to share their favorite soccer memory or moment of all-time.
I took it upon myself to limit our responses to only non-Atlanta United moments in history. We all love the club, that’s why we’re all here. I reckon we’ll do some future content on what’s been our favorite moment of the three-plus seasons so far. But for now, I thought this would be a lot more fun and unique for it to be aimed at the sport in general. Please head to the comments and share your favorite memory as well, without limitation.
I’ve enjoyed so many moments in this beautiful sport, but I always fall back on one of my earliest. It was summer break and I was in 6th or 7th grade, or some such. I had just moved back to Georgia after spending a year in Columbia, South Carolina, so I didn’t have a ton of friends and the majority of my vacation was spent wasting time. As a kid staying up at all hours of the night, coming across the 2002 World Cup happening in South Korea and Japan was awesome. Stay up til 6 a.m. and watch sports? Hell yes.
I didn’t know much about the sport at the time, but the coverage on ESPN helped highlight the fact that this thing was quite a big deal. The first match of the tournament, massive underdog Senegal shocked reigning champions France. My intrigue was piqued. Finally, the build-up to the USA’s opening game against Portugal came. My knowledge of the team at the time was basically nil. The studio analysts were quite down on their chances. Portugal had the 2000 Balon d’Or winner in Luis Figo, while the USA’s top playmaker Claudio Reyna not fit enough to start.
I credit the next 90 minutes for solidifying my love for the sport. The U.S. stormed out to a 3-0 first half lead and heroically clung on in the dying minutes to secure the 3-2 result. The rest of that tournament will be etched into my memory forever. I haven’t missed a USMNT match since. If they had laid an egg in that tournament like they did four years later, I may not have even developed a passion for this amazing game.
“2-nil down, 3-2 up, THAT’S HOW ARSENAL WON THE CUP!!”
FA Cup 2015. Arsenal 3-2 Hull City. My Gooners win their first trophy in approximately four gazillion years! Check ya boy first row center.
In 2016, I got a call from my friend Joey asking if I wanted to go to Texas to watch the USMNT team play against Argentina in the Copa America Semifinal. This was before Atlanta United’s inaugural season, so I never really had the chance to go watch a professional soccer match in person. I immediately said yes and, accompanied by my friend’s mom, we flew to Texas the next day.
Remember, this was my first professional soccer experience. Going to the airport and seeing countless USMNT jerseys was pretty cool. Fast forward to a few hours before the match and my friend and I are sitting in the back of a car on the way to the stadium. A security officer stopped the lane of traffic we were in, and the Argentina team bus drives by us. We saw Messi sitting in the back row of the bus and my friend and I freaked out. Who wouldn’t? As a 16-year-old who had never gone to a professional match, much less a USMNT match, it was an awesome moment.
I remember not being that surprised by the result of the match. A 4-0 result in favor of Argentina. But I couldn’t keep my eyes off Messi. He was lightning quick and this free kick against Brad Guzan (sorry, Brad) will probably be one of the most amazing things I ‘ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing in the flesh.
Once we got back to the hotel, an older looking stranger came up to my friend and I and started asking us about the game. We discussed the match and the experience, and suddenly we found out this guy used to be a professional referee. He pulled out a professional red and yellow card set that had been used in an actual game in South America. My friend and I split the set. Here’s mine.
We looked up the match on YouTube and watched for the referee to dish out bookings to the players, and it’s legit! It was a pretty awesome experience that definitely pushed me to follow soccer more closely and here we are today. Good times.
In 2006, my Dad, an Ecuadorian immigrant, took me and my 3 brothers to the World Cup in Germany. We were there for the entirety of the group stage and followed around two teams (mostly): the USA and Ecuador. Now, we all remember what happened to the USA in 2006, so I won’t rehash it (other than to say that from then to now, I don’t think the Czechs have EVER been as good as they were the day Jan Koller and crew pummeled the Yanks 3-0 in Gelsenkirchen). Following Ecuador that tournament proved to be way more fruitful.
After La Tri beat Poland in their introductory fixture, we headed to Hamburg for their 2nd match of the group stage against Costa Rica. Ecuador took the lead in the first half thanks to Carlos Tenorio. After the break, Agustin Delgado smashed in a shot at the near post to give Ecuador a 2-0 lead that will forever remain my favorite goal I’ve seen in person, because it was at that moment that we all knew that for the first time ever, Ecuador would advance out of a World Cup group stage. Ivan Kaviedes would ice the game in stoppage time, and he definitely wanted to score because of the planned celebration he was able to pull off: pulling a Spider-Man mask out of his shorts to pay tribute to a teammate that had died in a car crash. After the game, a horde of Ecuadorians gathered outside of the stadium and we sang and danced for what seemed like hours. Ecuador would then get pummeled by Germany in the final game of the group stage at Berlin’s Olympiastadion (a stadium I recommend every soccer fan/sports fan/fan of history see in person), but we didn’t care.
It was a simpler time. Cameras on phones were bad still, nobody knew how to use Twitter, people thought Bob Bradley was a “defensive-minded coach” somehow, and the US Soccer Federation hadn’t turned into a complete embarrassment. It was the summer of 2010 and the World Cup was in South Africa. I wasn’t there, I was in Atlanta - at a packed Midway Pub with some friends watching the USA play Algeria in a win or go home group game. Algeria were playing like cynical cowards, already eliminated but happy to send the US home too. The Americans finally broke through in injury time in one of the most iconic goals in USMNT history.
What I remember about it was that it really felt hopeless before the score - everyone had more or less accepted that the US would draw and go home. But then Tim Howard made a save and did a crazy goalkeeper throw that Americans are good at because they’ve played ball sports that also involve throwing and the Yanks reenacted the charge of the light brigade except it worked this time. Landon Donovan scored and the rest is history because the US lost to Ghana again in the next round. You never really get a buzzer beater in soccer, but that’s what this was and Midway exploded with the U-S-A chant that everyone screamed at the top of their lungs while people walking on the street wondered what a bunch of weirdos were so happy about because Atlanta United hadn’t single handedly made soccer as popular as it is now.
What is truth?
What is justice?
What is greatest summation of humanities most moral parts thrown in a bowl, mixed together and baked in the oven of kindness, purity and love?
That answer is simple.
In the movie Forrest Gump, the titular Forrest is infallible. A perfect moral human rewarded routinely for being so successfully human that everything he sets out to do he wins excluding the whole dead wife thing but he was way out of her league so you know, you win some you lose some. He gets the Medal of Honor, the girl, the ping-pong scholarship, the meet John Lennon on a talk show, the billion dollars in shrimp and WHY? Because he is always doing what is morally correct. He never makes one, single, misstep throughout the entire movie. Except for the grey area of potentially violating several levels of a signed roommate agreement in Jenny’s dorm room.
Other canonically perfect heroes are sometimes chastised. Sometimes others are angry with them because the character simply tells the truth. Or because the character is so far beyond them in morality they can only choose jealousy because to choose any other action would be to choose an action that would only pale in comparison to this person. The person in this case? That’s right. Jesus of Nazareth.
Clifford the Big Red Dog is never punished for his actions. Why? Because he’s big. And red. And would destroy the town before taking Emily Elizabeth back to Valhalla if he did not receive his daily sacrifice of an oversized milkbone and the doggie bowl full of the blood of The Moonchild. This is unrelated, but important to remember.
The larger lesson to take from all of this though is that the teams that succeed in the grandest of ways on the grandest of stages, do so because they are simply morally superior and revolutionize soccer through the power of a fanbase that is better than every other in every single way.
Barcelona blew a three-goal lead.
The beautiful game is an unpredictable one. I can think of many moments that froze me in disbelief but none can equal Brazil’s 7-1 defeat to Germany in the Semi Final of the 2014 World Cup in their own country. We probably won’t ever see anything like that again. I recall Germany going up 5-0 in the opening 30 minutes feeling like I just witnessed a murder. To this day when I have nothing better to do, it never gets old rewatching those match highlights and fan reactions. Good times.
Okay, this is going to date me a bit.
My favorite memory is my second ever soccer-related experience, but it’s connected to the first. The first was when my Dad gave me a stuffed World Cup Willie souvenir mascot right before the tournament started:
To be honest, that’s about all I remember of the greatest moment in English soccer history. Hey, I was a little kid with little kid priorities.
But fast forward a year to 1967. That year I attended my first ever professional soccer game. My Dad and Grandpa took me the family’s favorite team play. Grandpa was quite an individual in his own right. Among other things he was a former national amateur champion in soccer and also darts - that’s a big deal in England - and, as family lore has it, once played for the reserves of the local top tier team. That local team? Well, my Dad grew up in the East End of London in an area called East Ham. Probably not too hard to guess which London area was right next door.
So, three generations of Fullers head off to the Boleyn Ground, aka Upton Park. We were in the stands - literally the stands back then - and managed to get spots in the front row. To this day that’s still the best vantage point I’ve ever had at a game! And so I got to see three of England’s World Cup heroes in action: captain Bobby Moore, hat-trick scorer Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters, who scored the other goal in the final.
I don’t remember the opposing team. I don’t remember the score. To be honest, it wasn’t until quite a while later that I realized the significance of who it was that I was watching play. The important thing to me back then - and still to this day - was the fact that I was there with my Dad and Grandpa, two men I loved and adored.
years decades since, I’ve amassed a pile of soccer memories, good and bad, funny and sad, but none of them, nor any future ones, will eclipse that.
It’s not often you sit there and witness a player become a global star over a defined period of one game, but that’s how Gareth Bale supernova’d — and it wouldn’t be Tottenham if it didn’t happen in a 4-3 loss to Champions League holders Inter Milan in 2010.
Bale and Spurs had been on the rise since the season prior, when I first started to pay them attention as a fan. Bale had become a goal-scoring left back as Tottenham raced to earn a place in the 2010 Champions League. Bale’s form picked up where he left it, but he was still mainly a bright prospect — not a figure known around the globe. Until this.
You have to understand, I skipped a class in college to watch this game on a crappy stream on my computer in my darkened apartment. When the ref blew for full time, I walked outside and peered out over an ugly strip mall in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and will never forget this though I had: “Wow, look at all these people just walking around, going about their lives, completely oblivious to the fact the the whole of Europe is talking about this.”
Can you imagine if this shot had been 3 inches to the right in the second half of Jamie Carragher’s last ever match?
USA vs Algeria in the World Cup in 2010 will always be my all time favorite soccer memory. Its a moment where you remember exactly where you were when it happened. My family and I were in Park City, Utah visiting some family friends. The game was playing on all the TVs in the house. I am watching upstairs, my brother in the basement, all of a sudden we hear a scream from the basement and my brother comes running upstairs, of course the TV upstairs is 10 seconds behind the one downstairs, so my brother ruined the initial reaction. Although the moment was ruined by my brother the goal call by Ian Darke will always stand the test of time for me:
I think the Landon Donovan goal against Algeria will always be the moment that stands out for me, even being a fringe fan of the sport back in 2010 that didn’t really actively start following it until around 2014 and leading up to Atlanta United’s debut in 2017. In person, and outside of Atlanta United, had to have been the opportunity to see a pair of USWNT World Cup matches last year in France. The first was in Paris and the 2nd group stage match against Chile—it was fun to not only visit Parc des Princes and be around what turned out to be a vocal and active group of American fans. Then, I headed to Le Havre to catch the final group stage match against Sweden, where my gamble with Stubhub paid off rather handsomely and gave me a chance to get this photo right after Lindsey Horan made it 1-0 in the 3rd minute.
Boom. #TheGreatHoran #USWNT #FIFAWWC pic.twitter.com/KLHZ0FNpmz— Sydney Hunte (@SHWrites) June 20, 2019