A/N: Hey guys, long time no see. Those of you who remember me know that one of my passions is sports, and with the World Cup just ending and myself getting back into viewing PR media over the last week, and reading back some of my old stories posed here this one shot idea came to me. Now with my sports stories I usually go off the actual events that happen, but for this storyline I needed to change some things (especially since the US didn't even play in the 2018 World Cup). Though I did keep the 2010 and 2014 World Cup champions accurate, along with Man City's three EPL titles. I'll admit this probably isn't the best story I've ever written, and the background information before getting to the actual moment being written about is a tad long for my liking. That said I do find it essential to the storyline I'm providing, Conner doing the unthinkable yet again. Thank you for reading my story, and let me know your thoughts by leaving a review.
Disclaimer: After five years I still own nothing.
2018 World Cup Final - Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena, California
As Conner McKnight walked onto the field at the Rose Bowl before the biggest soccer game of his life he couldn't help but smile. He was one win away from achieving his life long dream, to win the World Cup for his country. While that had been his dream since the first time he kicked a soccer ball, the path he took to get to this moment certainly wasn't what he had envisioned.
Conner played on the Reefside High School varsity soccer team all four years of high school, helping lead the team to the state semifinals his freshmen and sophomore years, and captaining the team to back to back state championships his junior and senior year. It was that senior year though that gave his path to this moment its most dynamic twist. In the fall of 2003 Conner, along with classmates Kira Ford and Ethan James, found the Dino Gems, becoming the Dino Thunder Power Rangers. While Conner was still able to play for the school team, there was no time for a club team, as he decided against joining the development program of a professional team to remain a Power Ranger. While that did close one door, it also opened another. Colleges were not recruiting Conner because he was expected to sign with the development program of a pro club, which would prevent him from playing in college. When he turned away his club opportunity the biggest college soccer programs from around the country began to recruit him. But just like with the pro club he could not commit to any of these colleges, as saving the world with his new friends and their science teacher had become his first priority. Conner knew he had to put his dreams on hold until Mesogog was defeated.
The Rangers would finally defeat Mesogog in late April of 2004, just before prom. Luckily for Conner a late signing period for colleges began in early May, so he still had a chance to play soccer in the fall. Unfortunately for him most of the big school that had originally offered him scholarships no longer had any scholarships available, so if he wanted to go to those schools and play soccer he would have to walk onto the team and pay his own way for school. There was one school though that could offer him a partial scholarship to help pay for some of his schooling while there, with a chance to eventually receive a full scholarship. So after graduation Conner left California and went one state north.
While in the relativity big city of Portland, Oregon, the University of Portland is a small catholic college with just over 4,000 students. Though a member of the "mid major" West Coast Conference in NCAA's Division 1, the school had a very strong men's soccer program in a city known for being one of the soccer hotbeds of nation. That fact, along with receiving a partial scholarship to play there, and convincing his then girlfriend Krista to attend the school with him, made Portland the perfect landing spot for Conner. After saving the world he was ready to get his dream back on track, and he didn't waste anytime doing that.
Conner rewrote the Portland and WCC record books during his freshmen season on his way to becoming the league's freshmen of the year and player of the year. The Pilots would make it all the way to the NCAA tournament semifinals before falling to in state rival Oregon State, ending their season with just three losses. His sophomore was more of the same, as he would repeat as conference player of the year, and this time the Pilots wouldn't lose a game all season en route to winning the NCAA national championship. All of this success also caught the eye of those with the US National Team, as Conner joined the USMNT'S under 23 team. Then while back in Reefside in between his sophomore and junior seasons the unexpected happened one night while Connor and Krista were hanging out with Trent, Kira, and Ethan back at their old stomping grounds of Hayley's.
"Conner, is everything ok" Krista asked her boyfriend as he reentered the room with his mouth agape.
"I was just offered a contract with an English Premier League team" Conner finally responded.
While Newcastle United isn't one of the strongest teams in the EPL, they were still an EPL team, and they wanted to offer Conner a four year contract. Not bad for a would be junior in college who was turning down clubs and colleges a few years earlier for something only nine people in total knew what he was doing. Playing in the world's best league was a dream he thought he lost because of ranger duty, but his hard work and determination with UP and the U23 team had proven otherwise. While he was unsure if he would expect the contract, his friends, and most importantly Krista, wouldn't let him say no. And it was a promise Krista made to him that sealed the deal for Conner.
"I promise to join you in England after I finish with school," Krista told Conner. "You thought you lost this chance before, but now its back, you have to take it," she added.
That was everything he needed to hear. Conner informed Newcastle he would accept their offer, and then informed his coach and parents that he would be heading across the pond to continue his dream professionally. Just like Krista and their friends his coach and parents were thrilled for him and this opportunity, and it was another one that he didn't waste. While league championships did not follow Conner across the pond, he did help a bottom of the pack team in the EPL become a upper middle of the pack team, with his third year there the team finishing 4th in the league and earning a spot in the prestigious Champion's League tournament. His assent also continued with the USMNT, making it to the top team that played in international competitions such as the World Cup. Conner wasn't a starter for the 2010 World Cup team, but he was first off the bench, scoring in the second half of each of the first two games of the tournament, and providing an assist in the third game. After winning their first knockout game the US fell in quarterfinals of the tournament to eventual champion Spain.
Conner's Newcastle contract was up after the 09-10 season, and his strong performance with both Newcastle and the USMNT made him a sought after free agent. Conner would eventually sign a four year contract with Manchester City, another upper middle of the pack EPL team that was starting to spend big to make themselves championship competitors. With that Conner and Krista headed south from Newcastle to Manchester, and soon the dynasty of Manchester City began, as they would win 2 EPL titles in 2012 and 2014. Conner would resign with Man City after the 13-14 season for another four seasons. They would win another EPL title in 2018, along with winning other tournaments in England. For the 2014 World Cup Conner was now a starter on the USMNT, and while he scored six goals throughout the event, tied for the most in the tournament, the US again fell in the quarterfinal round to the eventual champion, this time Germany.
With the United States hosting the 2018 World Cup, Conner was determined to get the team over the hump and win its first ever World Cup for multiple reasons. First being that the US was hosting. His second reason was that this would likely be the last World Cup he played in. He would be 32 in 2018, making it unlikely that 36 year old Conner would play in the 2022 event. His third reason being that he was coming home for good. While Conner and Krista loved England, they missed being in the states just as much, and the final year of his contract with Manchester City would be their last in England. After the season EPL season ended in May and the World Cup was over Conner and Krista would be returning to Portland. Conner was signing for the MLS Portland Timbers, who he would begin playing with during the second half of the 2018 MLS season. While he considered signing with the two clubs closest to his hometown of Reefside, the LA Galaxy and LAFC, he couldn't pass up the chance to return to soccer crazed Portland. While there during college there for talk of the city obtaining an MLS team, and it eventually did in 2009 while Conner was in England. His final reason was he wanted to make this the best summer ever, as adding a World Cup championship to moving back home and marrying Krista would do that.
Warmups were ending and the team was heading back to the locker room. Before doing so Conner looked around a packed Rose Bowl in awe, almost getting lost in the moment before one of his teammates got his attention back.
"Hey Conner, you coming man" his teammate asked.
"Oh yeah, sorry, just got lost in the moment for a second" Conner said.
"I don't blame you, this is so surreal right now" Conner's teammate said back.
"Let's give them a moment they never forget" Conner said as the two headed to the locker room.
The US was facing France in the final, after exercising the demons of the last two World Cups, beating Spain in the quarterfinals and Germany in the semifinals. France was also the last country to win the World Cup in their home country. The roar of the stadium was deafening as the US starters were announced.
"At midfield, from Reefside, California, team captain number 11 Conner McKnight" was heard over the PA as the crowd got even more louder for a home state player. After greeting his teammates Conner pointed to the crowd where he saw his biggest support section, with his parents, former coaches and teammates, Krista, Trent, Kira, Ethan, Tommy, Hayley, Anton, Elsa, and Ethan, Tommy, and Hayley's significant others, all who which also happened to be former Power Rangers. Any butterflies he had before the game were now gone after seeing the people who had supported him the whole way. Conner was ready to help make the next great American sports moment.
90 minutes of play had been completed and the US and France were tied at 2 goals a piece, with Conner having an assist on each US goal. Six minutes of extra time was to be played. In the fourth minute of that extra time France committed a turnover at midfield, and a breakdown in the French defense left Conner with a open breakaway after receiving a pass from a teammate.
"McKnight has it, and he is all alone. French players trying to reach him, but the breakdown in the French defense has them trailing him by a lot. The French goalie is heading back towards the goal. Its now one on one, McKnight and the French goalie. McKnight fakes going to the right, and the goalie falls for it, he is down, McKnight rips a shot and he SCORES! GGGGGOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL USA! Conner McKnight, possibly playing in his last World Cup game, breaks the tie in the 94th minute, and gives the USA a 3-2 lead over France, with just a couple minutes left in this contest."
With that goal, the biggest in US soccer history, the crowd at the Rose Bowl erupted. Conner was now a US soccer hero and legend. France couldn't get another shot off, and the USA won its first World Cup.
"Its over, its over. In front of the biggest soccer crowd in the history of the United States, Conner's McKnight's goal in the 94th minute has given the USA its first ever World Cup championship, defeating France 3-2."
When it was all said and done Conner was named best player of the tournament, and as team captain got to hold the World Cup trophy first, holding it to the sky and giving it a kiss before handing it off to another teammate. After that he jumped off the stage and was greeted by his support section, the first person being his fiancee, as he shared a kiss with Krista, followed by hugs with his parents, former coaches, former teammates, and of course the group he helped save the world with.
It was truly a dream summer for Conner. He won a third EPL championship, was going to be returning to a city he loved to continue his career, he scored the World Cup championship winning goal for his country in his country, and was going to be marrying the love of his life. While the path to this moment did not go the way he expected it to, he wouldn't change a single thing about it.