by FRANCO PANIZO
U.S. national team head coach Bob Bradley released the 30-man roster that will participate in the first camp of 2010 on Tuesday, but before we turn the page on the year that was, SBI is taking a look back at the top five goals of the year.
With the U.S. team having had one of its busiest schedules in its history in 2009, there were plenty of goals to chose from. Although a case can be made for many of them, we took into careful consideration which ones we thought were the top goals, and some splendid strikes were left off the list. It says a lot about the past year when Sacha Kljestan's free kick vs. Sweden, Jozy Altidore's strike vs. Spain and Jonathan Bornstein's header vs. Costa Rica all narrowly missed the cut.
With that said, here are SBI's Top Five USMNT goals of 2009:
5. Ricardo Clark vs. Trinidad and Tobago 9/9
Ricardo Clark's blast against Trinidad and Tobago was not only special due to its incredible bend from distance, but also because it gave the U.S. team a much-needed win during a crowded period in CONCACAF qualifying. Nice build-up play from Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan paved the way for Clark's clutch rip from 25 yards out just before he was set to be subbed out in the U.S. teams 1-0 victory in Port of Spain. To make matters sweeter for Clark, his father, who was born in Trinidad, was in the stands to see the goal firsthand.
4. Landon Donovan vs. Honduras 10/10
While Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares could have done a bit better, Landon Donovan's free kick goal that clinched the U.S. team's World Cup qualifcation was a thing of beauty. The goal (at the 1:41 mark in the video below) was a gutsy gamble by Donovan, who correctly guessed that Valladares would anticipate the shot to the near post. But Donovan still had to manage to perfectly place the ball, which he did, curling it into the back of the net from 22 yards out, giving the U.S. team a thrilling 3-2 win in hostile and politically unsettled Honduras.
3. Stuart Holden vs. Haiti 7/11
Haiti may not be the most testing opponent, but Stuart Holden's stunning strike against the Haitians was as clutch as can be. With stoppage time almost complete, and with the U.S. team's streak over CONCACAF foes on home soil looking to be broken, Holden leveled the score, unleashing a right-footed shot that soared into the upper ninety from 24 yards out. Holden's goal – his second international goal – helped end a relatively frustrating day on a positive foot, as the U.S. team would temporarily extend its streak with the 2-2 draw.
2. Charlie Davies vs. Mexico 8/12
Scoring in Azteca is a rarity for the U.S. team, but Charlie Davies' goal against Mexico was even more special, coming in the 9th minute, and giving the U.S. team a 1-0 lead in its house of horrors. Quick combination passes from Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan led up to the play, and Donovan's accurate through ball released Davies behind the Mexican defense. Davies displayed his lightning-speed and clinical finishing, as he curled his shot around goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, silencing the hundreds of thousands of Mexicans in the stadium, and sending U.S. fans everywhere in a frenzy.
1. Landon Donovan vs. Brazil 6/28
Five touches and three players is all it took for the U.S. team to run from one side of the field to the other and score against a superiorly-talented Brazil in the Confederations Cup final. An outlet pass from Ricardo Clark reached Landon Donovan, who released Charlie Davies down the left flank before he returned the favor with a pin-point pass that Donovan took a touch on and then struck perfectly with his left foot past Julio Cesar. The impressive counter-attack goal gave the U.S. team an unprecedented 2-0 lead over the Selecao, and although the Americans could not hold onto their lead, the goal will still be remembered as one of the greatest of all time for the USMNT due to its precision, quickness and the magnitude of the game in which it came in.
What do you think of SBI's Top Five USMNT Goals of 2009? Get goosebumps re-watching some of those goals? Agree or disagree with the order? Feel there are any snubs?
Share your thoughts below.