Photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com
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.