Where were you when Landon Donovan scored his game-winning goal against Algeria to send the United States into the knockout stages of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa?
Ask any hardcore — and many casual — fans of the sport and they’ll be able to tell you the name of the bar or plaza where they were watching, or the piece of furniture they were sitting on, or how they celebrated in that instant.
The moment was so thrilling that it inspired Robby Kitchel to make a video compilation of “The World’s Reaction to Landon Donovan’s Game Winning Goal.” The video has been viewed more than 3 1/2 million times.
After Abby Wambach’s remarkable, last gasp goal Sunday that brought the Americans back from near-certain defeat and propelled them into the Women’s World Cup semifinals, it was inevitable a similar video would pop up showing reactions to another memorable finish.
Well, the short wait is over...
Not surprisingly, it’s another piece of Kitchel’s work — videos from around the country shot on camcorders and camera phones in all their herky-jerky glory spliced together to paint the scene in the aftermath of Wambach’s goal and the eventual penalty shootout victory.
At the time of this post, the video was sitting at just over 15,400 views, but that number will surely grow on the eve of the United States-France semifinal matchup on Wednesday.
There’s an obvious link between both videos and both moments as the beautiful game continues to establish its foothold in the U.S. But how do those riveting scenes compare?
Which goal — Donovan’s or Wambach’s — was more memorable? Was it Donovan’s, because it happened before a much larger audience on a stage where the American men have struggled to prove their might against the world’s traditional powers? Or was it Wambach’s for all the adversity the team faced during the preceding 121 minutes and because the tally came off the head of the team’s most accomplished player never to have hoisted a World Cup trophy?
One thing is certain: Like they did after Brandi Chastain’s goal that clinched the 1999 World Cup, the U.S. women’s team will watch Wambach’s goal over and over again. And in all likelihood, they’ll watch the nation’s reaction to it as well.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Donovan shortly after he returned from South Africa last summer, and we discussed the reaction video. He said when he watched it alongside teammates after they got off their plane back home, it brought tears to his eyes.
"What I've realized more than anything is the power of a moment. I'm a sports fan, and growing up, when you witness a special moment, you realize what it can do. One of those moments for me was watching Kirk Gibson hit that home run in the World Series as a Dodger fan. You'll always have that in your head. And I'm realizing now that I'm home that people have that memory and always will, of us beating Algeria and doing something special that hadn't been done in a really long time. It just shows you how powerful a moment in sports can be."
Count Wambach’s goal as the latest example.