Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 Card-vent Calendar: December 22

December 22, 2010:
2007 Upper Deck MLS #64 Landon Donovan

With the gut punch of the Packers/Cardinals playoff game, the underachievement of the Brewers, the one-and-done Bucks, and the lack of a first-tier hockey team, my sports highlight of the year would have to come down to a choice between the Badgers' run to the Rose Bowl and the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Both involved a great deal of success from my respective rooting interests, but I'd have to give the edge to Team USA for pulse-quickening action.

The most dramatic sporting event of my year was a dead heat tie between the USA's second and third Group Round games against Slovenia and Algeria. For the Slovenia game, several factors led to its greatness. The school year had just ended and I was visiting great friends in Seattle (which has already been documented here). Still adjusting to the time difference (and after landing in Seattle at 10:00 the night before), my buddy and I woke up early (probably 3:00 or 4:00 Milwaukee time) so we could get a decent spot at a local pub to watch the US. Arriving at George and Dragon an hour before the game looked like it was not going to be enough, it was so packed. Luckily, two stools in front of a big screen opened up just before kickoff.

The game itself was indescribable. Going down 2-0, Donovan's ICBM that Slovenia's keeper was lucky was not aimed at his head, Bradley's extremely difficult tying goal, the disallowed Edu GOAL, the curses, the singing, the muttered oaths, the death threats directed towards referee Koman Coulibaly, the guy near me who was pissing people off because he kept telling anyone within earshot that, despite being of Slovenian heritage, he was cheering for the US... all of this created such a fun atmosphere that made you feel like part of something big.

The definition of big came a few days later, with Donovan scoring nearly at the death against Algeria to put the US atop the Group C standings and into Round 2. For this moment, I was in my living room, probably still pajamas. Rare are the times when you feel like everyone in your country is on the same side of any issue, any event. This was one of them. It's hard to watch this and not get goosebumps.

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