U.S. soccer team star Landon Donovan reacts to his game-winning goal at the 91st-minute of the World Cup match against Algeria on Wednesday (Photo by US Presswire/Jim Brown)
Where were you when Landon Donovan made his game-winning goal against Algeria on Wednesday morning? His 91st-minute goal, which gave the U.S. a 1-0 victory over Algeria in the World Cup, carried the significance of a historical moment caught in time, like when JFK was shot or where you watched the last episode of Cheers.
For the record, I was sitting at my kitchen table watching the game with my daughter running around me. I didn’t jump or scream. I got out of my seat, however, and walked closer to the TV. I looked on not believing the moment. My first reaction: “Where are the refs? What are they going to call now?”
The goal in injury-time allowed the U.S. to stave off elimination and win its group at the same time. Donovan snatched victory from the jaws of defeat — or tie (that does not sound as good).
Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat — the ultimate Landon Donovan moment — is like winning in basketball after trailing by seven points with only 37 seconds remaining without a shot clock and a three-point line. Improbable? That’s what Arizona did at ASU on Jan. 5, 1985, thanks to the heroics of Eddie Smith, who converted on a three-point play in the waning seconds to put Arizona ahead. (I was at the game sitting in the nosebleed section of ASU’s Activity Center and the moment is still fresh in my mind although I was only 17).
Another UA hoops Landon Donovan moment is when the Cats overcame an 11-point deficit at Washington State with 1:40 remaining in regulation on March 2, 1995. Damon Stoudamire was the hero of that game for Arizona, scoring 11 of his 40 points in the second overtime of a 114-111 win over the Cougars. (I listened to the game on the radio in my living room. No Fox Sports Net package existed at that time).
The improbable win over Houston (after trailing by 10 with 52 seconds left in regulation) in 2008 — with the famous step on Chase Budinger‘s face — comes to mind as another Landon Donovan moment for the Cats.
An Arizona football Landon Donovan occasion?
One moment for me is when Arizona tied ASU in 1987. Like former UA coach Dick Tomey said: “All ASU had to do was punt the ball.” The Sun Devils, trying to snap a six-game losing streak to the Cats, led 24-21 with 13 seconds remaining. ASU punter Mike Schuh mishandled the snap and Chuck Cecil recovered the ball at the ASU 13-yard line. Gary Coston made a 30-yard field goal two plays later in front of a stunned Sun Devil Stadium crowd.
That’s about as close a tie could be to win, which is the opposite of what the U.S. soccer team would have felt had it tied Algeria on Wednesday morning. (I watched the 1987 game at home in my living room. Viewing Coston’s field goal had the same effect as watching Max Zendejas’ game-winning field goal two years previously at ASU).
I was again in my living room last November when Arizona pulled somewhat of a Landon Donovan again at ASU.
On fourth-and-12 from Arizona’s 14, ASU quarterback Danny Sullivan rolled out of the pocket and fired a strike to a diving Kyle Williams in the back of the end zone. It was their second scoring connection of the quarter, tying the game at 17 with 2:02 remaining (after the UA led 14-3 to start the fourth quarter).
Williams went from hero to goat as he muffed a punt, and Arizona’s Mike Turner recovered at ASU’s 22-yard line. Four plays later, Alex Zendejas nailed the game-winning 32-yard field goal, hitting it straight down the middle. The Cats did not exactly snatch victory from the jaws of defeat but ASU had all the momentum if that game finished tied and went into overtime.
And last but certainly not least, the greatest Landon Donovan moment in UA baseball history was the classic comeback against Maine in the 1986 College World Series. Dave Shermet hit a two-run, two-out home run in the bottom of the ninth, capping a comeback from a 7-0 deficit as the Cats won 8-7. The UA ultimately won the CWS title that year.
Maine led 7-0 before Dave Rhode broke up the shutout in the seventh with an RBI double. Arizona made it 7-5 in the eighth on two-run homers by Gar Millay and Gary Alexander. In the pivotal ninth inning, after the leadoff batter reached on a walk, a wild pitch and a single by Mike Senne made it 7-6 before Shermet hit his fourth homer of the year to dramatically win the game.
If Shermet, Coston, Cecil, Stoudamire and Smith happened to watch Donovan’s game-winning goal Wednesday, they must have known what he felt like as a late-game hero (on a much different stage, of course).
Oh yeah, the Shermet homer that sunk Maine? I watched that in the living room of my apartment near campus after completing my freshman season at Arizona. The living room is the place to watch those Donovan-like thrillers it seems, except for that Eddie Smith miracle in 1985 at Tempe. That makes the game that much more special, seeing it in person.