During the winter and spring months of the MLS offseason in 2006, Taylor Twellman was on a mission. A member of Bruce Arena's pre-World Cup squads, Twellman had a mind to make the final 23 for Germany 2006, and he was determined to put on a clinic and showcase his worth. Taylor had scored the previous Fall in a World Cup Qualifier against Panama, and continuing that form, went into beast mode. He notched a hat-trick against Norway and then, just two weeks later, scored against Japan in another friendly.
Still, when it came time for the USA to make the sojourn to Germany, Twellman wasn't there. He had been inexplicably left off the roster, despite winning the MLS MVP, Golden Boot, and All-Star Game MVP in 2005, and scoring the five goals listed above.
Meanwhile, back in Foxboro, the New England Revolution were coming off the disappointment of losing the 2005 MLS Cup, and were fighting to defend the Eastern Conference title. Just days after finding out that he'd been left out of the World Cup squad, Taylor suited up against the LA Galaxy at Gillette Stadium and let the whole world know how he felt about it, firing the Revs to a 1-0 lead inside five minutes.
It's not the goal itself that makes this probably my favorite New England Revolution highlight of all time; it's the celebration, and the situation. The actual finish was clinical, but nothing we hadn't seen from Taylor before. However, after scoring, Taylor vaulted the advertising boards and went to celebrate with the Fort, where fan and artist Prairie Rose Clayton had hung a long banner that clearly read "Why Not Taylor?" After greeting the Midnight Riders in the front row, Taylor then turned and leaned against the banner, asking the whole country the same question.
The goal, the banner, and everything else meant so much more to Taylor at that time, and not just because of the World Cup snub. Twellman's grandfather, MLB legend Jim Delsing, had just passed away that week, making that period of time probably one of the worst of Twellman's life. The Boston Globe ran a story on the game, the goal, and Taylor's struggles the next day, and Taylor expressed his appreciation for the support and love the fans had shown him.
The history of the New England Revolution is littered with great highlights. Hundreds - probably thousands - of goals have been scored. Indeed, Twellman himself accounted for 101 of them. But that goal and that celebration will always stick out in my mind. It shows how, more so in American soccer than in any other sport, we fans have the ability to connect with our heroes at such a remarkably deep level, and that even as they touch our lives every week, we can touch theirs.
Plus the national team had a horrible World Cup where no strikers scored (only Clint Dempsey found the net, actually, a Revs player at the time). It's easy now to look back and say that Taylor 100% should have been there. But mostly, it's the emotion that gets me about this goal.
The below video is a fan compilation of some of Taylor's best highlights. The goal in question starts at about the 2:23 mark.
Remember that goal? Have any other favorite highlights you remember? Let us know in the comments!