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Tribeca FF 2014 Films, On Your Radar: Next Goal Wins
by Kathryn Loggins

This movie is an uplifting account of a true underdog trying to achieve a seemingly unobtainable goal (pun intended). It follows the soccer team of American Samoa, a team that is historically known as the worst soccer team on the planet. They earned this title in 2001 when they suffered the greatest defeat in World Cup qualifiers history against Australia. The final score was 31-0, a devastating loss that would haunt the country for the next 13 years. 

In this documentary the American Samoan national soccer team has a chance to compete once again in the World Cup qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, but they are in need of some serious help. In order to whip this team into shape, the league flies in a gruff coach from Holland. This guy bleeds soccer and he is very talented. He arrives in American Samoa and is appalled at the standard of play this team has. Most of the team isn't even fit enough to play through the entire 90 minutes of a game. He starts to whip them into shape with a boot-camp style training. This raises some eyebrows and puts his job security into question. Despite the controversy that ensues, the players and coaching staff develop a bond and they start to trust each other. The American Samoan culture eventually melts the coach's heart and he gets to know the true spirit of the team while helping them reach their full potential. He realizes that even though he was brought in to teach the team how to shape up, it was the team that shaped him into a better man.

The classic underdog story is just one of the many things that leaves your heart pounding while watching this film. The characters in this film are the true heroes. It's not so much a film about soccer as it is a film about perseverance, faith and friendship. Ultimately, the culture of this tiny island and the heart of the players touch your soul and help you see the world in a different light.