SPORTS MOVIES

Best sports movies: 'Goal! The Dream Begins' presents a modern American dream

OK, it's wildly unrealistic, but it's a good bet you'll be rooting hard for Santiago Munez (Kuno Becker) in 2005's
OK, it’s wildly unrealistic, but it’s a good bet you’ll be rooting hard for Santiago Munez (Kuno Becker) in 2005’s “Goal! The Dream Begins” (Associated Press/Walt Disney Pictures)

Editor’s note: The Gazette sports staff has compiled lists of its top 15 favorite sports movies. Each day, a different staffer will share some insight into one of their favorites. Some of them are classics, watched and re-watched time and time again. But for a few, maybe we’ll be able to convince some of you to check it out for the very first time.

It was a “togetherness” gathering with my high school soccer team the night before a game where I first saw “Goal! The Dream Begins” and fully registered what this particular American dream looks like.

That is, to become a professional in a country across an ocean from this one.

Even as a devout Major League Soccer fan who wants to see that domestic league continue to grow, I appreciate the American youth’s desire to play in the English Premier League or German Bundesliga just as a European basketball prodigy hopes to make it in the NBA.

In “Goal! The Dream Begins” that faraway place is only a chance run-in with a fired scout on a Los Angeles soccer field, a train ticket, bus ticket, plane ticket, pay phone call, persuasive speech, somewhat intrusive persuasive speech, apology for hiding a medical condition and an as-fate-would-have it taxi ride with the club’s highest-paid player away.

OK, fine, the movie depicts a wildly unrealistic story, but by the end I promise you’ll be rooting for Santiago Munez. Maybe you’ll even become a Newcastle United supporter and discover the rest of the “Goal!” trilogy.

At the very least, you might be trying to figure out how U.S. Soccer will recruit Munez to join its men’s national team as opposed to his native country of Mexico.

This American dream was truly so far away for my high school teammates and me that Munez’s story seemed possible at the time. The movie solidified our love of a game that got little love in Hollywood, helped us appreciate what it means for people not born in this country to make a life here and now has us invested in the overseas moves of the Christian Pulisics and Giovanni Reynas of the real world.

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Even for those who pronounce Fulham “FULL HAM,” “Goal! The Dream Begins” is a fun dream to experience.

My Top 15 sports movies

1. Goal! The Dream Begins

2. The Sandlot

3. Hoosiers

4. Glory Road

5. Cool Runnings

6. 42

7. Miracle

8. I, Tonya

9. Moneyball

10. A League Of Their Own

11. McFarland, USA

12. Talladega Nights

13. Happy Gilmore

14. Remember The Titans

15. High School Musical

Comments: (319) 398-8252; nathan.ford@thegazette.com

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