Historic, unlikely and nearly unbreakable records in sports only come along every so often – but two in one day?
That’s why June 23, 2010 is going to be a day etched in sports history forever.
The sun rose just like any other day – but this time was weighed down by the excitement and anticipation of thousands and thousands of Americans who were hopeful that the United States soccer team would find a way to advance out of Group C and into the 2010 World Cup’s next round.
What wasn’t anticipated was exactly how that goal would be reached.
In the first half of its match with Algeria, the US team ran into the norm – missed opportunities, wide-open nets and yet another disallowed goal due to a controversial (and incorrect) call by a World Cup referee.
The second half was more of the same, as the boys in red, white and blue had plenty more chances, most notably a Clint Dempsey shot off the post – followed by a rebound that sailed wide left of an open net.
Then, with the clock hitting the 90th minute, it was down to extra time, or a disappointing World Cup exit – as during the same timeframe, England was leading Slovenia.
That’s when history happened – as the United States executed a perfect play, ignited by goalie Tim Howard, who tossed the ball halfway down the field to the soon-to-be hero Landon Donovan.
Donovan quickly passed it over to Jozy Altidore, who crossed it to Clint Dempsey – who then attempted to get the ball by Algerian goalie Rais M’Bolhi.
With the ball squirting out of the goalie’s hands and Dempsey flipping over him (and almost into the goal) – thousands of American hearts skipped a beat in unison.
But Donovan was there to follow on the rebound – and launched it into the back of the net, leaving the stadium in a complete frenzy – and an entire nation, too.
In the 91st minute, the United States had taken a 1-0 lead in the game – and only a few short minutes later, the US had stolen away Group C.
The win marked history for US Soccer – being the first time the Americans had won their group in the World Cup since 1930.
Call it the “shot heard around the planet”, and also the latest goal score in US World Cup history.
But even after sports history was made, this day still wasn’t over.
At Wimbledon in England, even more history was being made – as American John Isner and Frenchman Nicolas Mahut were locked in a grudge match of longlasting proportion.
This tennis match didn’t just break records – it completely shattered them… and the match isn’t even over yet!
4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-7, 59-59 – they almost appear to be numbers that can match that of the LOST television show phenomenon.
With the records they hold within them, it’s possible that they do.
But the above is NOT a typo – so there’s no need to clean your glasses or wash your face, as Isner and Mahut have indeed posted 118 games in their record-breaking fifth set.
That’s approximately three times the total of the previous record in a Grand Slam tournament.
And again, must we remind you that the match is NOT over yet – and is heading into its third day, including over seven hours of play today, that not only featured a short bathroom break, but also was eventually delayed due to darkness.
Chalk it up as another record that may never be broken – at least not in our lifetime.
The funny part is: Stephen Strasburg was on the mound for the Nationals later on in this day – and while the young man did go six strong innings, striking out nine and giving up one run – the running joke around the sports world was that with the way this day was going, Strasburg would likely toss a perfect game or a no-hitter.
It was instead the first loss of his young baseball career.
During an early summer day when the basketball, hockey and football seasons were all on hiatus – the only unbreakable record that could be thought of might be Dimaggio’s hit streak.
Instead, June 23, 2010 brought us two incredible new records – in two unlikely sports that are often not among the country’s first choices to view.
Perhaps that will change going forward, thanks to US soccer, Landon Donovan, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut.
Mark it down – a day etched in sports history… June 23, 2010.
Update (June 24, 2010 – Noon Eastern):
The tennis match finally came to an end, with John Isner defeating Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the 5th set. Both players were honored after the Wimbledon match.