Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Golden Day

Team USA's final day of competition was scripted like a Hollywood movie...a Hollywood, Maryland movie, of course! After a rocky start that saw the Americans commit several fouls in an attempt to slow their skillful opponents, the team fell behind to Spain 1-0 on a 15-yard free kick in the 7th minute. But the Americans showed the resilience that has become their calling card since their last friendly against Ireland, and they immediately equalized -- just one minute later -- when Avery Long finished a Larry Mills cross from close range.
Avery Long ties the game!
Tied 1-1 at the half, the second period saw the Spanish threaten with dangerous forward runs from captain Markos Allejandro, but Team USA caught the Spaniards on a counter-attack in the 19th minute. A Wes Thompson pass cut out two Spanish defenders and Long ran onto it, then crushed the ball into the upper right hand corner to notch his second of the day and put the USA up 2-1.
Team USA stopping Spain in transition
Weathering the Spanish assault for the last ten minutes, Thomas Smith was assigned to man-mark Allejandro, and did a superb job keeping the talented captain at bay, as the whole team played smart defense in the final minutes.
Thomas Smith on his mark in the closing minutes
The tension built, and Alan Hill had to come out to cut off several crosses:
Hill triggers a counter-attack after cutting out a cross
But the boys hung on for the happy ending! USA 2, Spain 1! The first ever soccer gold medal for the United States at the World Games!!
The team's effort was aided by the huge crowd that came to support them. Besides the core of family who came to Greece, Team USA gymnastics led cheers, the bocce team added voice, and friends from Belize and Singapore -- made over the course of the week -- rounded out the cheering section. Chants of U-S-A drowned out the sqeaks of "Espana," and helped fuel the team to victory!
The core of family supporters
Part of the crowd that showed up today!
Then came the traditional post-game ceremonies, except for the medals, which will be handed out tomorrow afternoon. Check back tomorrow for pictures and comments from the medal ceremony!
No...Wes and Sam aren't emigrating. They traded jerseys with Spanish team members!
Now the team is eating dinner at a poolside pizza party, but be sure to check back later tonight for more pics and the full match report. Use the sidebar on the right to access both.

1 comment:

  1. Way to go Team USA!!!!!!! We are celebrating here too!!! You guys have done a FANTASTIC job!!!!