December 2010

Puck's Christmas Cheer Happy Hour: Top Five USMNT Moments 2010 Edition

Goal. Damnit. Goal.

By Puck, writing from Rochester, New York Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome back into another Happy Hour. Hopefully, last week’s Sad Edition of the HH did not keep you up at night. Unfortunately, I did catch a lot of shit via Twitter regarding my Gooch is Dead piece. Clearly, the entire post should have been taken as satiric, but apparently some people do not have a sense of humor. If those people upset with my hypothetical obituary had a couple cocktails and read the post again, I am sure they would find the humor in it. My good friend Andrew always told me, “You’re nobody till you’ve been booed.” Hopefully, Gooch manages to see some first team action early in 2011, or the sun will continue to set on his international career. Christmas Eve is behind us now, but for those of you who celebrated such things, I hope that as the month winds down, you find time to reflect on the year that was. I have been personally reflecting on some of the morally questionable activities I took part in during 2010. During the final couple weeks of the year, I began to wonder if I will actually begin to clean up my act. Maybe it’s time for me to stop sitting at bars drinking PBR hitting on women with questionable morals of their own. Then again, why fix what is not broken? No one I cared about ended up in jail or seriously injured, so 2010 was a pretty good year. That said, I have also been thinking about the year that was with regards to the USMNT in 2010. There certainly were a few low points, but overall, it was not a terrible year for US soccer. Before the year ends, I want to share with you all my 5 most memorable moments during the 2010 USMNT campaign. Keep in mind this is not a list as voted on by TYAC writers. These are simply the times I will remember, good or bad, when I think back to 2010. 5) Stu Holden’s winning Goal against Blackburn I will never forget where I was when this amazing goal took place. Neil and I were sitting around the TYAC home offices, watching some EPL on a Saturday morning. After hearing that Bolton had surrendered the tying goal after playing the last 30 plus minutes a man down, Neil and I both thought it is was still an admirable performance. Then before we knew it, Stu finished one of the best goals of the year in the EPL. After running onto a nicely heading pass, Stu quickly controlled the ball with his chest and crushed a left footed volley home for the win. At that very moment, Neil and I were in shock. Stu Holden is just a small part of the midfield talents we have on the roster going into the 2014 World Cup. That goal is what got me excited for the future of American soccer. 4) Round of 16 loss to Ghana Better writers than I have done an excellent job commenting and analyzing what went wrong in extra time during the Ghana match. From the standpoint of purely a fan, the only word that could describe my feelings was devastation. The USMNT margin for error is razor thin. We came just a couple bad breaks away from finishing last in our group, and flying home. However, we got a little lucky and won the group, and had the easiest path to a World Cup Semi Final imaginable. How was it possible that we could blow an opportunity like this one? There will be more games and more opportunities in the future, but watching all the possibility and promise evaporate in a split second is a pain I will never forget.

You haven't heard the last of Jose Torres for the Yanks.

3) JFT Second half Domination versus Turkey In May on 2010, I was out in Kansas City for the wedding of my two close friends AJ and Bekkah. It just so happened that on the same day the USMNT would be taking on Turkey in a World Cup preparation friendly. Luckily, I was able to catch the second half of the game during the reception. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am super fan #1 when it comes to JFT. For months I had been telling anyone that would listen that JFT’s creativity and patience with the ball would be a huge asset for the USMNT going forward, especially if we found ourselves down a goal in the World Cup. Most people gave me the tired excuses, “He is too much of a Latin player, and he does not fit in our system.” His second half performance, no domination, of Turkey in May proved that he is a valued player to both Bob Bradley and the USMNT. Don’t believe me, watch this video in its entirety. Unfortunately, JFT blew his chance to start in the World Cup due to a shitty performance in the final warm up game. I promise that the USMNT has not heard the last

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of my boy JFT. 2) GOAL, GOAL USA! What else can be said about this moment? If you are a soccer fan, you remember exactly where you were when this magical goal hit the back of the net. Jon “Lightning Cup” Levy and I celebrated like the drunken bafoons we were. Whiskey and Ginger-ale flew through the air like fireworks. If anyone else was watching that spectacle, they would have thought we were completely gay for each other. We’re not. I think. 1) Slovenia Comeback This has nothing to do with American determination or grit as some writers have suggested. Yes, we made an excellent comeback, and probably should have won had we not been hosed by the awful officiating. This is at

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the top of the list for a whole different reason. During this match, I was on a flight from Orlando, Florida to Rochester NY. Being the huge fan I am, I made sure to fly Jet Blue. If you are not familiar with the airline, you should be– it rules. Jet Blue has personal TVs for everyone on the plane, installed in the head rest of the seat in front of you. I made sure to pick a flight time that would allow me to watch the game on the plane. The reason this will be forever my favorite USMNT moment of 2010, is what happened on the plane during the American Comeback. Of the 100 or so people on board, roughly 90% of them were watching the game. Every age, sex, and race was completely captivated by this American team. Strangers were locked in hugs and high fives when the US scored the tying goal. When the jackleg official took away the winning goal, the entire plan collectively groaned. I have been in a lot of bars watching sports in my day, but nothing compares to the shared emotions on that plane. When the match was over, the captain even got on the loud speaker to let everyone know that the US had made a dramatic comeback. People on the plane clapped, some even cheered. If the USMNT, and soccer in general has the ability to captivate a plane full of strangers, it certainly had the power to captivate a nation. Every time I hear Colin Cowheard, Jim Rome, or any other misinformed balljack talk about how no one in this country cares about soccer, I will think about that plane ride and know how fucking wrong they are.

The weather outside is frightful. The parties are delightful. That means more free advice.

PUCK’S FREE ADVICE: This being the holiday season, I am in quite the giving spirit, so today you will get two doses of free Advice. 1) During you local cocktail hour with family this weekend, don’t drink too many Martinis. Two does not feel like enough, but three is certainly too much. Bad shit happens after the third Martini, like calling your pain in the ass aunt a dumb bitch over dinner. Trust me, I am a scientist. 2) If you have not heard about Jets Coach and professional snack eater, Sexy Rex Ryan’s foot fetish, you need to watch these videos. Apparently he likes feet more than the creepy butler in Mr. Deeds. It’s time for me to head to Lisa’s Liquor Barn and stock up on Irish whiskey and PBR for more holiday festivities. I leave you with a RUN DMC CHRISTMAS. Sorry for partying bitches.