That it beat Landon Donovan’s dramatic 2010 winner in Pretoria will surprise some, but there’s little doubting the merit of Abby Wambach’s 2011 Women’s World Cup goal against Brazil – the 122nd minute equalizer that helped the Women’s National Team capture the country’s imagination that summer. Today, that moment was commemorated as the best moment in U.S. Soccer history, the result of the federation’s bracket-style competition celebrating its 100th anniversary.
Wambach and Donovan’s goals were the last of 64 moments paired down throughout the course of a tournament that featured over 210,000 votes cast by more than 10,000 fans, with the final award part of the honors the federation is using to celebrate its centennial. On Thursday, the USSF will announce its all-time women’s XI, with the men’s team set to be announced on Friday.
Though Donovan’s strike against Algeria to win Group C for the U.S. three years ago has earned its rightful place in U.S. soccer lore, the choice of Wambach’s goal reflects the broad appeal of the Women’s National Team, a quality that transcends the typical core of soccer fans in the United States. Although Men’s World Cups afford the Men’s National Team similar opportunities, the stardom of players like Wambach, Alex Morgan and Hope Solo highlights the Women’s Team’s ability to broader demographics.
When events like the 2011 World Cup or 2012 Summer Olympics get coverage in places the men’s team can’t penetrate, we’re reminded there’s a segment of soccer interest beyond hardcore fans that the sport has yet to truly access. At its heights, the Women’s National Team engages that fan.
Donovan’s goal is often evoked among the hardcore sect as the U.S.’s transcendent moment, and for those who list soccer as their favorite sport, perhaps it is. But between those soccer hardcores who disagree and the broader audience, Wambach’s goal may have had the bigger impact.
While the U.S. Soccer honors may have a touch of ballot box stuffing to them, there’s a reason those ballots were stuffed in Wambach’s favor. For so many who continue to be inspired by that score, her goal against Brazil eclipsed Donovan’s. It was their best U.S. Soccer moment of all-time.
Catch up on all of Friday’s EURO qualification action, as two more teams have booked a ticket to France.
Spain 4-0 Luxembourg
Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla hadn’t scored a competitive goal for Spain in more than six years, but he scored twice today to help earn his country a berth in EURO 2016. Cazorla and Paco Alcacer scored all four goals for the Spanish, while Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas became Spain’s all-time leader in assists. However, both David Silva of Manchester City and Alvaro Morata of Juventus were forced off with injuries, with Morata’s looking to be serious.
Switzerland 7-0 San Marino
Switzerland led just 1-0 at halftime, but a six-goal second half which included three penalty kicks means the Swiss have secured qualification from Group E for EURO 2016. As expected, Switzerland dominated every aspect of the match against minnows San Marino, and Vladimir Petkovic’s side had seven different goalscorers.
[ MORE: Thursday’s EURO 2016 roundup — Northern Ireland qualify ]
England 2-0 Estonia
England remained perfect in Group E, taking their ninth win from nine matches today at Wembley. Theo Walcott‘s great scoring form from Arsenal carried over to the national side, opening the scoring just before halftime. In the second half, Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy came on as a substitute and assisted to Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, who made it 2-0. With a few minutes to play, Tottenham teenager Dele Alli got a short run in his England debut.
Elsewhere in EURO qualifying
Macedonia 0-2 Ukraine
Slovakia 0-1 Belarus
Slovenia 1-1 Lithuania
Liechtenstein 0-2 Sweden
Moldova 1-2 Russia
Montenegro 2-3 Austria
After scoring five goals against Newcastle United, Sergio Aguero may have to wait a bit of time to get back to scoring in the Premier League.
The Manchester City striker lasted just 25 minutes in Argentina’s World Cup qualifier on Thursday, as he was stretchered off with a hamstring injury.
Aguero underwent testing in Argentina, and told the local media “I think I’m going to be out for a month.”
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Manchester City and Argentina teammate Nicolas Otamendi said Aguero was in tears in the dressing room, and some reports have penned the injury as a torn hamstring.
If Aguero were to be ruled out for a month, he would miss City’s Champions League clash vs. Sevilla, as well as the massive Manchester derby away at United on October 25.
To make matters worse for City supporters, David Silva was forced off after just ten minutes while playing for Spain today. Silva took a harsh challenge from behind, and hobbled off with what looked to be an ankle injury. If Silva’s injury ends up being more than just a knock, City could be without their two most important players in the attack.