Relatively speaking, a completed hail mary in football is an uncomplicated thing. Yeah, there’s lots of guys running around hither and thither, but only two of them ever touch the ball: the quarterback, the receiver. The ball is in the air, and then it either hits the ground or nestles in the receiver’s hands. Simple.
The new most famous goal in U.S. soccer history was, in soccer terms, a hail mary. 92nd minute. Nothing happening for the Yanks. But Howard saves and makes the best outlet pass of his life to Donovan. Donovan’s first touch tempts the Algerian central defender forward just enough, so Donovan can make a pass to Altidore. Altidore squares for Dempsey. Dempsey pokes the ball at the keeper as the other defender dives at it. The ball squirms loose. And here is Donovan again. And then the ball is in the net.
X to Y to Z to Gamma to Omega. For every dot to connect just so, at that minute, with those stakes, seems beyond imagining. For once the adjective “unbelievable” isn’t hyperbole–I watched it happen, I’ve watched the clip a dozen times since, and I still have a hard time believing it happened. One goal past the 80th minute to keep the team in the tournament is amazing. Two? In back-to-back games? … … … What?
I find the phrase “something I’ll never forget” mostly empty. There’s tons of useless, meaningless things I’ll never forget. My seventh-grade locker combination. The series “Shirt Tales.” The lyrics to Genesis’s “We Can’t Dance.” To simply not forget something doesn’t mean anything. It means a lot more to say I’ll always remember that.
I will always remember today, that goal. I will remember and remember and remember and every time I’ll smile and remember how desperate we all were, how the lightning-quick-and-yet-agonizingly-slow progression from Howard to Donovan to Altidore to Dempsey to Donovan felt like the slow fall of a football tossed high on fourth down on the game’s final snap. Touchdown. Goal. Hail Mary.
Auburn content coming along later today; sorry for its absence, but it’s been so, so hard to concentrate today.
When Donovan put the ball in I held back my celebration. Just waiting for the ref(s) to call something to disallow the goal. When there was nothing I stood up, pumped my fist and bellowed, “Finally!” Thank you Donovan, you made yourself a legend.
I am typing and funnelling beer thru a vuvuzela right now!!!
Phillip, I was right there with you. Especially when it took a bit for ESPN to post the goal on the screen.
On another sports note (on another sport I pretty much never pay attention to except when ESPN keeps cutting in with it), how about the match going on at Wimbledon right now? The 5th set is at 48-47 right now, and the American (unfortunately a UGA Bulldog, but an American for all that) has absolutely shattered the record for number of aces (which, let’s face it, isn’t a surprising considering the 5th set alone has gone on longer than most tennis matches ever do).
delirium. pandemonium. tears. memories. joy.
I now need blood pressure meds after watching that game, but it was well worth the agony!
Between USA soccer and Wimbledon, this is the best sports day of the year so far hands down…
God bless you for the Shirt Tales reference too. That one had long been expunged from my memory…
Other than a few moments from the Iron Bowl this past year, I haven’t watched anything nearly as exciting as that goal today.
92 minutes of agony followed by everlasting joy….
Can’t help but hate Ghana today.