Year in Review: Favorite 2014 World Cup Match


Let me paint the picture for you. It’s the first day of July 2014. Two great World Cup round of 16 matches await. First was Argentina vs. Switzerland and later in the day came USA vs. Belgium.

I am an American by birth, but I also consider myself an adopted Argentine. I lived in Argentina when I was younger and quickly grew to love the people and the country. I miss it every day.

On this day, both my native country and my adopted one would play in their respective matches for a chance to advance to the quarterfinals. 

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I got to work that morning around 7:00 am as I normally did. The first match did not kick off until 9:00 am (Pacific Time). I wore my Albiceleste jersey to work that day and stood out amongst the few fans who chose to wear there USMNT shirts.

At 9:00 I headed over to the break room to take a short two hour break from work so I could watch the Argentina match. A handful of other soccer fans were also in the room, but since most people only cared about the US match later in the day, I had prime seating.

As expected, Argentina looked the better team throughout the match and had the majority of possession and positive chances on goal. Lionel Messi was superb as always. But for some reason, the South Americans could not find the back of the net.

Even with 22 shots on target, Argentina was still searching for a breakthrough goal. Switzerland looked much better than they had just days earlier in a 5-2 defeat to France, but they too were unable to get a ball past Argentina’s keeper Sergio Romero.

La Pulga had his best chance of scoring in the 78th minute when he made one of his signature runs along the edge of the box before finding enough space to put a shot on goal and challenge the keeper. But that attempt too was kept out.

So after 90 minutes, the match was still deadlocked 0-0. It was on to extra time.

The first 27 minutes of additional time was a lot of the same. The Swiss continued to turn away all of Argentina’s chances. The match looked destined to end in a draw and head to penalties.

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I was going insane. Not penalties. Anything can happen with penalties. Argentina had been the better of the two sides and if they were to fail to advance due to penalties, I don’t know if I could have taken it. All happiness in my life would have evaporated forever.

But just as the tears were starting to form a queue in the back of my eyes, the heavens opened and Argentina was saved by an Angel.

Messi received the ball just inside the opposition’s half and did what Messi does. He ran past a handful of defenders and just outside of the box, he slid the ball to his right to Angel Di Maria.

At that moment I started hearing this song in my head.

Do you believe in magic?

Di Maria made contact with Messi’s pass and rolled the ball past the keeper’s outstretched arms and into the bottom left corner of the net.  The Albiceleste had taken a lead with just minutes to play.

The entire country of Argentina erupted into mass hysteria. Just watch these few videos to get a sense of how much this meant to the people of Argentina.

But the celebration ceased when in stoppage time of the second extra period, a Swiss corner was met at the back post by the head of Blerim Dzemaili. The ball beat Romero and was only kept out by the post. Switzerland was within inches of sending the match to penalties.

In the end, Argentina would prevail 1-0. For me, it is my greatest memory of the 2014 World Cup (mostly because I am trying to forget about the final and the missed shots by Messi and Gonzalo Higuain).

Next: Tim Howard Will Be Out How Long?

Just a couple of hours later I was back in that break room for the USA vs Belgium match. Sadly, we all know how that one ended. The heroics of Tim Howard came up short as the USMNT lost in extra time 2-1.

It was a day I will never forget. A day filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. A day when I screamed for joy and but also wanted to cry from disappointment.

There is no sporting event on earth more exceptional than the World Cup. This year, 2014, will forever be one of the most special years of my life. I bought my first home, my first child was born and of course, Argentina made a magical run to the World Cup final.

Thank you 2014 for all the memories. I will miss you.