THE YEAR IN REVIEW Top 10 national stories
By Charles Cuttone Executive Editor
Carli Lloyd scored two goals to lead the U.S. to an Olympic Gold Medal in London in August.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The Top Ten national soccer stories of 2012.
1) U.S. Women Win Gold
The United States avenged last year's Women's World Cup loss to Japan, recording a 2-1 triumph over their Asian rivals to capture their third consecutive Olympic gold medal on August 9.
Midfielder Carli Lloyd, who was not seen as a starter when the U.S. began the tournament, struck twice -- once in each half -- to lead the American attack before an Olympic-record crowd of 80,203 at Wembley Stadium.
Since women's soccer was added to the Olympics in 1996, the U.S. has owned the competition, winning four out of a possible five tournaments. The Americans prevailed in 1996, 2004, 2008 and the London Summer Games. The only time they failed to earn the gold was in 2000, when they lost to Norway in extratime in the final.
2) David Beckham Leaves the Galaxy
David Beckham closed out his LA Galaxy career on a high note , helping the team to its second successive MLS Cup.
3) Galaxy repeat as MLS Champions
While far from the wire-to-wire cakewalk of 2011, the LA Galaxy overcame a horrendous start to the season, survived a knockout round playoff match against Vancouver and went on to defeat Seattle Sounders FC, Supporters’ Shield winners San Jose and Eastern Conference champions the Houston Dynamo to take their second straight MLS Cup December 2 at the Home Depot Center.
4) U.S. men fail to qualify for Olympics
A stoppage time goal by Jaime Alas gave El Salvador a 3-3 tie and ended the United States’ hopes for a trip to the 2012 Summer Olympics at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament March 26 in Nashville. The U.S. was stunned by Canada 2-0 in the second game of the tournament after the U.S. fired on all cylinders in the opener, a 6-0 win over Cuba.
5) U.S. advances in World Cup qualifying
Although earlier performances had raised doubts about whether the U.S. could advance to the hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying going into the final group stage game in Kansas City on October 16, they were dispelled with a convincing 3-1 win over Guatemala at Livestrong Sporting Park. Clint Dempsey led the way for the U.S., scoring two goals and assisting on the other.
The Americans (4-1-1, 13 points) clinched the CONCACAF Group A semifinal title, while Guatemala (3-2-1, 10) finished third and was eliminated. Jamaica, which defeated Antigua & Barbuda at home, 4-1, qualified as the other Group A side to reach next year’s hexagonal.
6) Wondo ties a record
Chris Wondolowski’s 27 goals this season tied Major League Soccer’s all-time single-season goal record and won him a second Budweiser Golden Boot award. He also became the only player in MLS history to score the most regular season goals in three consecutive seasons. His consistency throughout the season earned him four MLS Player of the Month awards, a feat unrivaled through the sixteen MLS seasons.
7) WPS folds
After three rocky years and a lawsuit, Women's Professional Soccer finally called it quits on May 18, deciding to fold.
The three-year-old league suspended operations earlier in the year, deciding to forego its 2012 season to focus on the lawsuit filed by magicJack owner Dan Borislow, who was thrown out of the league following the 2011 season. The league said the matter with the former magicJack owner had been settled outside of court by mutual – and confidential -- agreement.
The WPS became the second women's professional league to fold after playing only three seasons. The Women's United Soccer Association Played from 2001 to 2003 and folded on the eve of the Women's World Cup. The WPS ceased operations following a year when women's soccer received a huge boost because of the U.S. team's thrilling performances in the 2011 Women's World Cup.
8) Sundhage steps down as U.S. women’s coach
After winning two Olympic Gold Medals and finishing second in the 2011 Women’s World Cup, U.S. Women’s National Team coach Pia Sundhage stepped down to become head coach of her native Sweden.
9) Sporting Kansas City wins Open Cup
Sporting Kansas City won the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup for the second time in club history, prevailing 3-2 on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw in regulation against the Seattle Sounders August 8 at Livestrong Sporting Park. Sporting’s win snapped a streak of three consecutive titles by the Sounders.
10)Development Academy goes year-round
The U.S. Soccer Development Academy's sixth season kicked off with the first across-the-board implementation of the 10-month season format, which puts a greater emphasis on the Academy philosophy of increased training, while competing in fewer but more meaningful matches.
BigAppleSoccer.com Editor Michael Lewis contributed to this story