We see goals that are stunning and spectacular in their sheer quality.
And we see goals that are powerfully important, the critical strike in a compelling comeback or the goal that turns fortunes, Clint Demspey’s first-half strike against Costa Rica earlier this year that helped spin the U.S. World Cup effort 180 degrees, for instance.
But how very rare it is to see a goal that checks both boxes.
Consider for a moment how massive this goal was for Mexico, the late bicycle kick from Raul Jimenez, who is only 22 years old and surely has lots of good soccer years ahead, but who is quite unlikely to ever manage something even approaching this famous again.
If he doesn’t connect on this one, Mexico probably draws the match, leaving the falling regional giant’s World Cup chances seriously on the brink. A World Cup without Mexico? Has not happened since 1990, and only then because of federation shenanigans in using an overage player at a youth tournament.
Is it the most famous goal in CONCACAF qualifying history? Paul Caligiuri’s “Shot Heard Round the World” goal in Trinidad back in 1989 probably means more in the bigger picture, putting the United States in a World Cup for the first time in 40 years and launching the U.S. ascent in global soccer prominence.
But after that … Jimenez’s goal has to be right up there.
Is it the most famous goal scored at fabled Azteca Stadium? Well, remember that was the venue for Diego Maradona’s Hand of God goal. And then the Maradona scored that goal at Azteca – a.k.a. the Goal of the Century.
So Jimenez stands in fine company, even if his goal is not quite the most famous ever seen in a fabulously storied ground. Still, it really was something special, wasn’t it?
Here’s another look at it: