I apologize if this has already come up on the forum. I didn't see it. Winslow and I discussed it at the Brazil match at the new Meadowlands. I just think we have to hash this retirement out on this page as a tribute to one of the important figures for the US National team this decade.
Clint Mathis, 31, retired in early August. I imagine his body was just beat and his heart was no longer into the grind. He had an uneven professional career, but when he was hot, few, if any, American players dictated a game as he was able. Unfortuantely, when he was a role player (especially overseas) he was probably a pain to coaches and team members alike.
He had 46 international appearances for the Yanks. His first game was in 1998, but he really emerged, IMO, the icy night in Columbus, OH in February, 2001 when the balance of power shifted North of the Rio Grande. It has remained here ever since.
As you recall, the Hex called for Mexico to travel here to start the qualifying cycle. US Soccer brillantly elected the ridiculous weather and solid fans at tiny Crew Stadium to host the contest. It was freezing, but electric in the stadium. Reyna and McBride were felled early to injuries and Wolff and Mathis came on to carry the Yanks (with some help from Earnie Stewart!). 2-0 and never looking back.
Clint remained pivotal over the next few months pulling the US along in qualifying. He nearly single-handedly pulled out the first-ever US victory in Honduras with a very late free kick golazo. He contributed mightily in the next home match against Costa Rica as well. An argument could be made that he was more responsible than any other player in getting us thru the Hex that cycle than any other player (even though he was shelved after only five of the ten matches).
Then, he tore his ACL. One just has to wonder how his career would have played out if this had not happened. At the time, few American players ever were attracting more international attention. He had the "IT" factor, in spades. SI cover, Letterman, rumors of Bayern Munich all added to his aura.
He did recover in time to rally the US in the 2002 WC. Against the host South Koreans, he silenced a massive crowd with a brillant left-footed rip in a 1-1 draw.
If he had other moments on the National team after that, they faded quickly in my mind. He will be remembered as much for his sizzle and glory as he will be for fumbling away alot of potential and totally botching his attempts to stick on the European circuit.
In my all-time US squad, he is one of my forwards (next to Wynalda). Brief as it was, the guy brought inventiveness, a lethal knack for goal and a new sense of bravado to modern US football. With his MLS championship (as a role player) for RSL in 2009, the guy went out on top.
Thanks, Cletus. I absolutely loved the run.
There also is discussion about Mathis' retirement here,http://z8.invisionfree.com/Soccer_Futbol_F...p?showtopic=688
As Vince writes, mathis had a career like a firework, it briefly flashed brilliance but that shne was far too short.
My lasting mmeories of Mathis will be that pass to Wolff for the goal in Columbus vs Mexico, that free kick goal in Honduras which raconteir mentioned in the other discussion I linked, his mazy run and goal for the then NY Metrostars and of course his mohwak and goal vs South Korea in the 2002 World Cup.
I am trying to remember now but I do not recall him playing much in the 2002 World Cup other than in that South Korea game. Is that correct?
Thanks for the link. Pretty amazing how our comments all echo each other on this subject. Great minds think alike.
Yogi is correct in that Mathis only had that one appearance in Korea (was there a late sub?). Apparently, it had become evident to Arena by that time that Mathis' brillance was starting to rub off whether from injury or lifestyle. Nevertheless, amazing goal on a big stage. He seemed to have this aura, at least in 2001-2002, that it was destiny for him to do just that.
I was glad to see him on an MLS Cup winning team when that occurred.
Back in the day and time, I could not get over the notion that his obvious excessive weight gain was the root of all his coinciding problems on the playing field. It seemed like it was right about the time he ballooned up like someone stuck a helium nozzle up his rear that his speed and skills took a dive.
Sorry, because I loved the guy and thought he had the potential to be one of the very best US players ever, but it seemed like the dinner plate became more important to him at the worst possible time. There is obviously way more to the story, but that was the view from afar.
Dinner plate? Perhaps, pints and mugs would be better. I can personally attest, the guy enjoyed the golden brew:)
In a moment of hazy recollection, didn't Mathis also score a game winner against Mexico in a friendly (money making endeavor for US Soccer) in a ferocious down pour in Denver during his amazing run in 2001? I vaguely have this recollection.
|QUOTE (vince stravino @ Aug 29 2010, 04:16 PM)|
| In a moment of hazy recollection, didn't Mathis also score a game winner against Mexico in a friendly (money making endeavor for US Soccer) in a ferocious down pour in Denver during his amazing run in 2001? I vaguely have this recollection. |
Good memory Vince but it was 2002 in Denver, here is the game story,http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/soccer/wo...3/mexico_us_ap/
|Mathis scored after Carlos Llamosa sent a long ball down the right side. Vidrio went up to head the ball away, but ran into the charging Perez and both fell to the ground. |
Mathis avoided the collision and waited for the ball to bounce before knocking it out of the air.
"All the thoughts are going through my head: What am I going to do with it?" Mathis said. "So I let it bounce and the ball never came down. I kept waiting and waiting. I saw someone coming, so I had to hit it as low as possible."
And for your pleasure, here is Mathis assist to Josh Wolff for the opening goal in the 2001 qualifying game in Columbus vs Mexico:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M71D6JaDn_k