Looking back upon American soccer in 2012 provides for many exciting moments and stories. Although there were as many frustrating occurrences for the nation, the sport of soccer is a glorious one, and a fair amount of glorious occasions marked 2012. Here are five of the more memorable events that occurred in American soccer in 2012:
1. High Point – American Women win Gold Medal at 2012 Olympics – Avenging a dramatic loss to Japan in the 2011 Women’s World Cup in penalty kicks, the Americans claimed the Olympic Gold Medal by winning 2-1 at Wembley Stadium. Carli Lloyd provided both the American goals and it made for a spectacular scene. Goalie Hope Solo also provided a stunning save near the end of the match that preserved the win and put the America women back on top, where they belong!
2. Low Point – American Men fail to qualify for 2012 Olympics – While the women were graced with their Gold Medals, the American men didn’t even manage to qualify for the tournament. Although this was a youth tournament, meaning the best Americans weren’t on the pitch, it does still provide an unsettling feeling about the Men’s National Team’s future when they cannot qualify by beating the likes of Canada and El Salvador. The crushing blow came in stoppage time against El Salvador when a mistake by goalie Sean Johnson resulted in a game-tying goal that prevented America from progressing. Better luck next time!
3. Best Goal – Patrick Ianni of the Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting Kansas City – Patrick Ianni made a name for himself with this stunning volley off of a free kick during an MLS game, winning the MLS Goal of the Year Award. Reminiscent of this fabulous goal by Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the EURO 2012 tournament, Ianni incredibly guided the ball past the keeper and into the net. Although he has yet to represent the senior American National Team, if he continues to score goals like that, his moment will surely come.
4. Best Game – 2012 Olympic Semifinals – USA vs. Canada – Back to the impressive Olympic display by the American women, their 4-3 overtime victory over border rivals Canada in the semifinal match was an instant classic. Canadian striker Christine Sinclair had an impressive hat trick, but every time she scored the Americans came back. Megan Rapinoe had two remarkable goals including one sent in directly off of a corner kick. The match brimmed with controversy in the 80th minute when a questionable handball in the Canadian box led to a match tying penalty kick by Abby Wambach. Both nations had close chances in extra time, but it was Alex Morgan with a header right at the death to send America into the final and left Canada to scrape for the Bronze Medal. It was a truly magnificent game, full of twists and turns, which seems to be the norm for the American women these days.
5. Best Player – Alex Morgan – Although Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard have been playing wonderfully in the English Premier League, the efforts of Alex Morgan have been simply astonishing. Just age 23, Morgan scored a sensational 28 goals and provided 21 assists this year, becoming the focal point of the American women’s attack. Incredibly, she wasn’t even the starter at the beginning of the year, but she has developed into one of America’s best players. At such a young age she has the potential to become the best American woman to ever play soccer, and has even been tipped by team mate Abby Wambach to break the goal-scoring record in American women’s soccer some day, a feat that Wambach is soon to eclipse herself.