The joy of watching Christen Press play is it makes you understand why the forward-most position in soccer is called, boldly, striker. Because, to my eyes, the hallmark of a Christen Press goal is this: The angle looks absolutely impossible to score from, Press looks like she’s going to lose her battle against gravity at any moment and then, bam, a rocket into the back of the net. Press isn’t the only U.S. woman who can score goals with ease as, once again, the country is awash in women’s soccer talent. But a Press goal has something else. It’s just looks stunning. It seems to defy everything I learned in geometry about angles. It’s a moment when you can say, OK, yes, I get it, this is the beautiful game.
Here’s her latest stunner, from Sunday’s Manchester United Women win over Everton Women.
My first reaction, like many people, was to see this and think, for a moment, order had been restored to the universe; here was Press playing at a high level and scoring highlight-ready goals. I will throw this up on a little blog called Defector.com, I told myself, because I’m working Sunday and this is an easy post.
And then I stumbled. I doubted myself. I though how trite to think a sports highlight can signal some sort of order being restored during a global pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and continues to rage on in this country because of gross mismanagement by the government, especially under the previous administration. How stupid of me to think this was worth my time when there are grave matters, like the COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodgers Stadium getting shut down for about an hour on Saturday due to anti-vaxxers disrupting the operations. Should sports even be played right now given, as pitcher Sean Doolittle correctly said, “Sports are like the reward of a functioning society,” and the United States sure as hell isn’t fully functional right now?
But then the day kept going, I kept working, and I couldn’t stop thinking about this goal. God, it’s gorgeous. I’d take a glance at it between edits or chatting with colleagues or doing tweets and just think, damn, that’s a goal. And somewhere down the line, possibly after Kelsey McKinney introduced me to Zam Zam time, I decided I was still going to blog the goal. Because it’s OK to take a moment to have some joy in the darkness. In fact, in the darkness is when we need it most. So stop doomscrolling, watch the Christen Press goal, maybe watch a few more, and know that someday you and your friends and myself and my friends will all be watching Press goals the best way, in person at soccer stadiums, crowded into loud bars, or jumbled in front of some ginormous TV. I don’t know when that day will get there. I just want us all to hang in there and stay safe so we can get there, together.