Five biggest goals in U.S. history
It doesn't always come down to a goal in soccer. Sometimes it's a penalty kick or a huge save or an official's call that is the difference between agony and ecstasy. But considering that putting the ball in the back of the net is the name of the game, here's a list of the top five goals in the history of U.S. women's soccer.
1. Abby Wambach, 122nd minute, 2011 Women's World Cup quarterfinal vs. Brazil. Yes, we know it just happened Sunday, but still the U.S. was on the verge of its earliest exit from the tournament, down 2-1 to Brazil, when Wambach received Megan Rapinoe's exquisite cross and headed it into the goal to send the game to penalty kicks. It was the latest goal in the history of the Women's World Cup and it came with the U.S. down to literally seconds before a long and unpleasant flight home. Wambach's goal didn't win the game, but it staved off a hugely disappointing loss, and the subsequent win after penalty kicks gives the American women a giant wave of momentum, a moment in the national spotlight and their best chance to win this tournament since they changed the world in 1999.
2. Carli Lloyd, 2008 Olympic final vs. Brazil. The Samba Queens were victimized by American heroics yet again. Lloyd, struggling with nerves and confidence before the game, was the golden girl of U.S. Soccer by the time she booted in the game-winner in extra time to bring the U.S. the gold medal. The U.S., which was not the favorite because of the absence of Abby Wambach (out with a broken leg), was in need of a big moment, and Lloyd, who played every minute of that tournament, delivered it. Lloyd said that goal changed her career, that it was the "goal of a lifetime." She has two more chances to top it.
3. Brandi Chastain, 1999 Women's World Cup quarterfinal vs. Germany. Things didn't always look so bright for the United States in 1999, as its quarterfinal match with Germany was a tough test. Chastain's own goal and a score from Bettina Weigmann had the United States trailing 2-1 at halftime in Landover, Md. With the hope of winning the World Cup waning and the U.S. facing an early exit, Chastain redeemed herself with a goal in the 48th, dropping to the ground in relief in what became known as her second-most memorable celebration. Joy Fawcett later headed in the game-winner to advance the United States to the semifinal.
4. Alex Morgan, 2010 World Cup qualifier vs. Italy. This year's quarterfinal drama against Brazil might not have happened if not for Morgan. The 21-year-old's stoppage-time tally against Italy in November 2010 gave the United States a 1-0 win in the first leg of its two-game playoff against Italy for the final spot in the World Cup (necessary because the U.S. had lost to Mexico in CONCACAF qualifying). Morgan, an 85th-minute substitute, scored the game's only goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time after Italy inexplicably extended the match to make a substitution. A 0-0 draw would have been like a win for Italy heading to the second game in Chicago. Morgan's goal stole the momentum away and quickly made her a fan favorite.
5. Abby Wambach, 2004 Olympic final vs. Brazil. It would appear Wambach has a knack for late and dramatic goals against Brazil. U.S. soccer legends Mia Hamm, Joy Fawcett, Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain were able to go out in style, winning their last major international tournament with a hard-fought, extra-time win over a young, but talented, Brazil side. It was an unforgettable send-off thanks to Wambach's goal, a header off a corner kick from Kristine Lilly in the 112th minute, to give the United States a 2-1 win. After a disappointing end to the 2003 World Cup, the U.S. bounced back with the Olympic win. Wambach and the younger players on the squad dedicated the win to the veterans they had looked up to growing up.