We watched this morning as the U.S. National Soccer Team scored one of the biggest wins in recent memory for any American club in any sport. Just when we thought the U.S.' run in the 2010 FIFA World Cup was over, Landon Donovan struck to send the U.S. to the next round.
The United States' victory over Algeria was a jolt of fantastic athleticism and patriotism in one fell swoop. Who knows how the U.S. will fare in its next game or where the road will end in the 2010 World Cup. But we do now that today's victory was one of the most stirring in all of American sports. It is it among the best of all-time? Where does it rank in the top 10 of all-time?
It had been 16 years since the U.S. National hockey team landed a major tournament victory. Going into the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, the U.S. team knew that Canada was the biggest impediment to a title.
The U.S. defeated Canada 5-3 in pool play. However, the U.S. found itself behind the eight ball in the best of three final when it lost the first game. The U.S. recovered to win each of the next two games by a 5-2 score and finally vanquish the Canadians.
The 1992 Dream Team was a force unleashed on the Olympic basketball tournament that summer. Simply put, no one was close. The tournament was over the first time the team took the court.
The expectations of U.S. gold makes their win less dramatic. However, the sight of U.S. hoops stars just absolutely decimating the comparatively under-skilled international pool certainly opened eyes to just how far behind the rest of the world was.
Michael Johnson went into the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta with a lot of pressure. Johnson already dubbed the Fastest Man on Earth before qualifying runs even began.
It was his world-record shattering run of 19.32 seconds in the 200-meter that made him an international icon. (That and the gold shoes). Johnson broke the old record by over three-tenths of a second, stunning the Olympic crowd and the world in the process.
Dan Jansen personified perseverance throughout his Olympic career. Twice Jansen entered the Olympics (Calgary in 1988 and Albertville in 1992) as the favorite to win the 500-meter and 1,000-meter in speed skating.
Crashes and poor performances left him empty-handed in both Olympics. However, he returned at the 1994 Lillehammer Games and finally captured his long desired gold. Jansen, who set over 35 world records during his career, won the gold in his final shot at a medal.
This one is obviously still fresh in our minds and it deserves to be high on the list because of how dramatic Tuesday's victory was.
With the U.S. staring down the prospects of another failed World Cup appearance, goalkeeper Tim Howard, Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey ran a perfect counterattack, soccer's version of the fast break. In a flash, the U.S. went from scrambling to victorious in the one of the fastest pieces of play in this year's World Cup.
The U.S. went from going home to pool winners in an instant and simultaneously gave the U.S. its most dramatic soccer victory in generations.
Bonnie Blair arrived at the 1994 Lillehammer Games already an accomplished Olympian. The speed skater won three gold medals combined at the previous two Winter Olympics. It was in Lillehammer where Blair staked her claim as one of the greatest Olympians in U.S. history.
Blair clobbered the field in the 500-meter and 1,000-meter including a 1.38-second margin of victory in the 1,000-meter—the largest in the history of the event.
Blair's record of five Winter Olympic gold medals still stands.
Mary Lou Retton became the darling to the United States during the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles when she became the first woman outside of Eastern Europe to win the all-around event in gymnastics.
The victory was a major achievement for the U.S. at the time and still served as a momentous occasion despite boycotts by the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc nations.
Before the 100-meter sprint and basketball became the major glamor events at the Summer Olympics, the decathlon ruled as the ultimate test of an athlete.
The title of Best Athlete in the World went to Bruce Jenner who set a world record en route to winning the decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.
It was an American's record that he broke, but Michael Phelps domination at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing was the most celebrated individual mark in U.S. athletic history.
Phelps captured his eighth gold medal as a member of the 4x100-meter relay, giving him 14 Olympic gold medals and affirming him as one of, if not the, greatest Olympians of all time.
Was there any doubt as to what number one would be? At the 1980 Winter Olympics, the U.S. Men's hockey team took down the Soviet Union hockey machine, went on to win the gold medal, and instantly created American folklore that will forever stand the test of time.