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Goal of the Decade? No Such Thing

by Alex Fairchild
May 10, 2013 5:39 PM EDT



Thierry Henry scored a magnificent goal against Montreal on Wednesday night. An awkward flick on turned into the greatest finish MLS has bore witness too in quite awhile. The commentator on MSG may have been caught up in the moment, but he soon said the unspeakable, deeming the Frenchman's feat, "Goal of the decade."   

Being excited is one thing, but to make such a claim is absurd. I discussed the goal with a few people today. When they see Henry's flawless motion, silky smooth really, the eyes light up and the face enters a state of astonishment. However, when you give it a minute, pause the video and inquire, "Goal of the decade?" you're bound to get the same response they gave to Henry's acrobatics, though with a bit of laughter mixed with that already nonplussed frame.  

Looking back over the past 10 years, one said, "Please, Steven Gerrard versus West Ham or his goal versus Middlesborough take the cake." Another thought of Raul Meireles' stunner against Wolverhampton, while one believed that Robin van Persie's strike against Aston Villa just week previous was better, though even they saw that it was not worthy of such a prestigious title.  

Though what makes a goal sit a cut above the rest? Is it the beauty of it? The passion it arouses? Its timing? Level of difficulty? The amount of skill and control involved? Or is it a combination of the lot and perhaps a quality that has escaped the ken of this football writer?  

Beauty is extremely subjective, but it cannot be ignored, as it is the 'beautiful game' about which we are talking. Here, one could invoke the great passing of Barcelona or the fluidity of Henry's movement Wednesday night. Neymar has scored some special goals with his high technical ability, while Messi and Ronaldo have done much the same, whether it be by slaloming through defenders on a gold medal run or rooting keepers to the spot via set piece.   

Coming up in the clutch must count as well. One scoring a last minute winner while the hearts of millions race shows the composure a footballer assumes when slotting the ball by a keeper when the clock nears 90. Sergio Aguero's Premier League winner comes immediately to mind and so doesn't Gerrard's screamer against Olympiakos. Gareth Bale has put lasers by West Ham and Southampton at the death to earn his Tottenham all three points, and that is this season alone.   

But the level of difficulty shows the acumen of a footballer, both physical and mental, therefore it must be of most importance, right? It is the talent that makes the goal, when one uses such talismanic power to create such brilliance. Eric Hassli shocked MLS with a stunner against Seattle just a few years ago. The Whitecaps man chipped the ball past the defender, going away from goal mind you, before launching a missile from the righthand elbow of the box, which grazed an innocent post after leaving the grasp of keeper Kasey Keller. Liverpool's skipper had a stunner against 'Boro and if you have not caught this one on tape, you have not visited YouTube. He shaped it wonderfully with the outside of his godly right foot on the half-volley after taking the ball out of the air, thus placing a curler home for the Kop's enjoyment.  

With all the aforementioned goals can we really choose one and claim it is the best?   

No.   

Anyone who has put one home knows that there is a difference between an easy finish and a magnificent blow from distance, of course, and though the class, as well as the quality required is rare, it is not all too recherché. There is too much involved in the making of a goal. Perhaps luck is factor, and as we conclude, we must note that the immaculate timing of Wayne Rooney's bike against rivals City has been brushed aside. One millimeter to right on his boot and it is likely nobody would remember that attempt.

On this topic, there are so many options, so many wonderful strikes from which to choose, that it is impossible to get this one right.   

When I pondered this topic, I thought that there must be a way to figure this out. There has to be a certain combination of things that place a goal at football's zenith.   Sadly, I can only say to you as my AP Calculus teacher said Tuesday afternoon in lieu of our Wednesday exam, "I wish I had some sort of elixir for you... but I don't."