The United States men’s national team had some dynamite moments in a dreary decade.
The USWNT had just a few dreary ones in a dynamite one.
But what were the best moments of the 2010s for the top teams of U.S. Soccer? And what’s a bigger challenge: deciding what moment is No. 3 or choosing between Nos. 1 an 2.
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Isn’t it wonderful that the USWNT makes it so we have to choose which World Cup title is most delightful and impactful?
5. USWNT, Canada in seven-goal Olympic festival of soccer and officiating ridiculousness
Maybe it’s myopic and biased to call this the peak of the USWNT-Canada rivalry, but holy cow was this one a beauty. A guaranteed medal and a spot in the 2012 Olympic final was on the line when the U.S. fell behind not once, not twice, but three times at Old Trafford.
Christine Sinclair, arguably the greatest scorer in women’s history, had a giant-killing, nation-lifting day in attack, scoring in the 22nd, 67th, and 73rd minutes. The Yanks only equalized the third time because of a controversial handball penalty which was given after an indirect free kick was awarded for time-wasting.
An indirect free kick awarded for time-wasting. Abby Wambach was possibly given a second gold medal for intimidating the referee.
4. “And Donovan has scored. Oh can you believe this? Go, go, USA!”
The 1990s and 2000s each had their gateway moment for new fans of the U.S. men’s national team, the 90s being a whole tournament in the United States. Eight years later, it was beating rivals Mexico in the group stage.
The 2010s? Look no further than the current manager of San Diego Loyal FC.
3. Tim Howard goes Spiderman in memorable loss to Belgium
The Yanks have a decent history of putting up fine shows in World Cup knockout round exits, Ghana excluded. There was 1-0 to Brazil on home soil. Then, the 1-0 handball-aided loss to Germany in Korea.
But this was something else. The American goalkeeping position had always been a strength, but Tim Howard took it to the next level with a performance which inspired comparisons to Marvel Superheroes and Neo from the Matrix.
The U.S. lineup was good, but Belgium’s XI went like this: Courtois, Kompany, Van Buyten, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Witsel, Fellaini, De Bruyne, Hazard, Mertens, and Origi. The guys who came into the game? Lukaku, Mirallas, Chadli. Mousa Dembele couldn’t get on the pitch.
It was a performance big enough to earn this from Kompany after the game:
— Vincent Kompany (@VincentKompany) July 1, 2014
And Howard followed it up with an incredibly emotional post-match press conference. A U.S. Soccer icon.
[ MORE: USMNT Best XI of the 2010s ]
2. Megan Rapinoe caps World Cup title defense in iconic fashion
Megan Rapinoe was everywhere as the USWNT allowed just three goals in seven matches, ruffling plenty of feathers by scoring a ton of goals and celebrating them with vigor.
No recency bias here: A World Cup crown is a World Cup crown, but you’re nuts if you think this finale was as fun as our No. 1. The parade, however, looked on the level.
1. Carli Lloyd goes off in 2015 World Cup Final
Believe it or not, there was a three-tournament run where the Yanks missed two World Cup finals and lost a third.
So the relief of watching Jill Ellis lead the Yanks to a 5-2 rout against Japan was delicious
Carli Lloyd cashed in a midfield goal to cap a hat trick in the 16th minute, and… well… yeah. She had a rarefied day and year.Follow @NicholasMendola