It had to be deflected, right? Wrong.
When Ecuador's Enner Valencia fired a swerving, right-footed shot past U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan in the 88th minute of an international friendly, veteran ESPN announcer Ian Darke was convinced the ball had taken a deflection before reaching the net. The unlikely arc of the ball and the way it sent Guzan toward the wrong side of the net left Darke certain the ball had taken a deflection of U.S. defender Tim Ream.
"Well, that's deflected and it has gone in. It's Valencia's effort. It took a huge deflection. Nothing at all Brad Guzan could do about it and Ecuador are level," Darke said after watching the goal at Rentschler Field in Hartford, Conn., on Friday night.
Upon a second viewing, Darke still believed the ball must have clipped Ream to take that apparent right turn on its way toward the back of the net. It wasn't until a few more replays were shown that Darke's partner in the broadcast booth, Taylor Twellman, suggested credit for the ball's surprising movement might be all due to Valencia.
"Well, that's extraordinary," Darke proclaimed at that point, "Absolutely extraordinary."
The late score pulled Ecuador level, 1-1, with the U.S. men's national team in Landon Donovan's final match.