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SBI’s Top 5 USMNT Goals of 2011

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Photo by Bill Barrett/


Scoring was not the easiest of things for the U.S. men’s national team in 2011. It found the back of the net just 16 times in 17 games for its lowest goal-scoring total in a decade.

That does not mean there weren’t any nice goals, though.

In a year that included a coaching change midway through, the United States managed to score a handful of nice goals. From finishes that came at the end of well-worked passing sequences, to impressive individual efforts, there were several goals that bear watching again before the year ends.

So before we turn the page on the year that was, here are SBI’s Top Five USMNT Goals of 2011:

5. Clint Dempsey vs. Jamaica, June 19

Holding a slim lead over 10-man Jamaica in the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup, the United States sealed its passage to the semifinals when Dempsey finished off a nice passing sequence that involved Juan Agudelo and Landon Donovan. Hitting back on a counter, Donovan hit a pair of one-timed passes to Agudelo, who fought off a challenge before finding Dempsey with a low cross in front of goal. Dempsey demonstrated his composure in front of goal by cooly avoiding Donovan Ricketts and giving the Americans the insurance goal in the 2-0 affair.


4. Clint Dempsey vs. Panama, June 22

Three days after scoring against Jamaica, Dempsey struck again. This time it was a game-winner and this time it was in the Gold Cup semifinals against Panama, the team which had handed the United States its first ever defeat in the group stage of the tournament days earlier. Dempsey scored the game’s lone goal from close range following a counterattack that saw Freddy Adu play a beautiful ball to Donovan, who then hit a driven cross to the far post that Dempsey needed to only direct on frame for his third goal of the tournament.


3. Edson Buddle vs. Slovenia, Nov. 15

Scoring just the third goal in Jurgen Klinsmann’s reign as head coach of the United States, Buddle began arguably the Americans’ finest offensive outing under the former German striker when he blasted one in from range against Slovenia in a foggy friendly in November. Buddle netted the opener in the 3-2 win for the Americans when he controlled the ball with his thigh and volleyed it off the near post following a turnover deep in Slovenia’s half that was forced by Dempsey.


2. Landon Donovan vs. Mexico, June 25

He may not have had his greatest year in a U.S. jersey, but Donovan managed to score one of the better goals of 2011 for the United States in the thrilling Gold Cup final encounter against Mexico. Donovan helped initiate the play, which gave the U.S. team a 2-0 lead, but it was Dempsey and Adu who allowed it to develop further, as their quick combination took the attention off a streaking Donovan, who finished with authority before the Americans lost the game, 4-2. Perhaps just as nice as the goal was Donovan’s celebration, which included a tainted chicken dance and the stanky leg (to commemorate Charlie Davies on his birthday).


1. Jozy Altidore vs. Guadeloupe, June 14

Scoring his second goal in the group stage of the Gold Cup, Jozy Altidore unleashed a venomous shot from distance that soared into the top corner of the net. The goal, which was the winner in the United States’ 1-0 win over Guadeloupe, came in just the 9th minute of the game played at Livestrong Sporting Park when Altidore received a pass and cannoned a shot on frame from about 25 yards out.



What do you think of SBI’s Top 5 USMNT Goals of 2011? Do you agree? Think another goal should have made the list?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. It is most definitely NOT from the game against Guadeloupe. That game was at Livestrong Park in Kansas City and NOT the Home Depot Center where this picture is obviously from. Trust me when I tell you that it is Juan Agudelo from January 22, 2011.

  2. Biased but I absolutely agree with you.

    Two other rivalries that have to be up there is Brazil vs. Argentina?

    Celtic vs. Rangers? (religion plays into this – goes beyond sports!)

  3. US vs. Mexico is the best rivalry in the world outside of Barcelona vs. Real Madrid. Sometimes in games like Man U vs. Man City it seems like alot of the players are there just to pick up a pay check. Let the hating begin i dont care.

  4. Landycakes is still and forever will be the thorn in Mexico’s side.. Lets see what 2012 brings- besides the end of the world?

  5. It’s obvious you can’t appreciate the subtle nuances of soccer. That Donovan goal against mexico was pure class, the quick ball movement, the runs off the ball. Hard to believe it was the US to be honest lol

  6. I second John. Time and space? Listen, I realize we do not have any Messi’s on the team that just need an inch of space.

    Creating time and space in soccer = goals!

    Ok with critics that pop up here but not haters.

    Ugh, first of all, re-watching the Donovan goal vs. Mexico makes me ill. Watching that lead slip was dreadful.

    Secondly, Adu: what a ball to Donovan. great combination there. I hope he continues to do well and become a more consistent weapon for us -keeping his confidence up and being there for all CONCACAF qualifying – olympics and WC. Would be awesome coming off the bench for the “A” team. Jury’s out on whether he can be dangerous vs. anyone beyond minnows. (although had a great showing vs. Mex)

  7. wow. this is the most pathetic looking set of top 5 goals i’ve ever seen. all 4 but jozy’s are pedestrian finishes that demonstrate how much time and space we americans need in order to score goals.


    (SBI-Todd, the quality in the other goals is in the passing build-ups. Quality of goals isn’t based solely on the actual shot on goal.)

  8. Great goals indeed, watching Donovan score that goal and go up 2-0 was one of the best feelings ever. It was my first Nats game seeing live and by far the best sporting experience of my life regardless of the loss.

  9. Have to agree fellas! Great build up play and the passing and movement is beautiful. Goals 1 vs 2 will be debatable but I always prefer the team goal over the wonder strike.

  10. What makes that Donovan goal pretty to watch was the international-level build up play. A string of quick, one-two touch passing and off-the-ball movement opened up the Mexican defense. We can play that in bits and spurts, we just need to be more confident and play that way more consistently.

  11. The goal against Mexico (#2 on the list) is stunning. I mean, sheer class goal. Watch it from about 3 feet from your monitor with the audio down- tough to believe it’s the U.S.

    The one-touch passing, the movement off the ball, the creativity…

    Should be #1.

  12. As always, the definition of “top” or “best” goal varies. To me, the top goal taking into account the competition and the importance, etc is Donovan’s Mexico goal.

    The best pure goal for me in terms of difficulty of the goal is Edson Buddle’s.

  13. I was there for the Adu set up goal in Houston vs. Panama. What a great atmosphere! Who’d of thought that there were soccer fans in Texas? Not the USSF based off of friendlies/qualifiers. You’d almost think L.A. is the only city in the U.S.

  14. My number 1 was your number 4. Obviously the actual goal was just a tap in, so maybe that hurt it and put it down your list. But for one moment, having the potential of what Adu-Donovan-Dempsey could mean to the team as a creating, attacking trio, come to reality. It was a joy to watch.

  15. I actually preferred Bradley’s goal vs. Mexico ( in the Gold Cup final to Donovan’s. Maybe it’s because the Donovan goal lead to our AO bar doing a premature Dues-a-cero chant with the 2-0 lead, and allowed the small Mexican contingent to mock us later with venom.

  16. Some great choices.

    For me, I was just a few rows up from Dempsey’s goal against Panama when Adu placed that phenomenal pass. Watching that happen before my eyes at my first USMNT game is my greatest soccer moment.


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