Featured DVD Review: Next Goal Wins

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Next Goal Wins is a documentary about the American Samoa soccer team, who in 2001 lost a World Cup Qualifier to Australia by a score of 31-0. That's not a soccer score. That's high scoring compared to a lot of football games. The film touches on this loss, but looks at how the team tried to rebound.

The Movie

After watching highlights, lowlights, of the record-breaking loss, we learn a little more about the team. For instance, none of them are professional players. They all have full-time jobs. Furthermore, the island nation is tiny. This might explain why they have never won an international game.

The filmmakers help us get to know many of the players, including Nicky Salapu, the goaltender who let in 31 goals against Australia. As the movie begins, he had never won a game in international play, but that's hardly on him. We also meet Jaiyah Saelua, a Fa'afafine, which is like the third gender in Samoan culture. (They are essentially those who are born male but identify as at least half female.) They bring in Thomas Rongen, a Dutch coach, to help prepare the team in 2011. They also look for players who don't live in American Samoa, but technically qualify for the team.

Do these changes help the team compete on the world stage?

Next Goal Wins is an inspirational sports documentary that doesn't rely on your enjoyment of the sport to enjoy the movie itself. That's a positive. On the downside, you do have to have a certain tolerance for inspirational sports movie clichés. I think these clichés are unavoidable by the very nature of the universe. It's like the gravitational constant. Sports clichés just happen. Fortunately, not only does this film have a very compelling storyline to talk about (not only is there the record-breaking loss, but a 30-year losing streak) but there are several very charismatic people that the filmmakers focused on. Jaiyah Saelua was a very surprising element in the movie and shows the people of American Samoa are very progressive on this issue.

If you like soccer in particular, or inspirational sports stories in general, then Next Goal Wins is absolutely worth checking out. Even if you are not a fan of sports, but like character driven documentaries, then this movie is worth checking out.

The Extras

There are no extras on the DVD.

The Verdict

Next Goal Wins is an excellent documentary that should appeal to those who are not interested in soccer, or even sports in general. It is more of a character study than a film that gets into the details of the sport. There are no extras on the DVD, which is disappointing, but it is still worth picking up.


- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2014-08-01