It hasn’t been a fun day to be a supporter of United States men’s soccer, what with the second-string Yanks getting pasted by Ireland’s “afterthought” lineup.
So why not relive something amazing, one of the most overlooked but important moments in US Soccer history.
[ USMNT: A right to be worried after Ireland blowout? ]
On Nov. 18, 1989, Paul Caligiuri scored a road goal to shock Trinidad and Tobago in order to move into the World Cup for the first time since 1950. The drought was nine World Cups long, and over with the snap of a left leg.
Then 25 and best known for captaining UCLA to the NCAA title four years earlier, Caligiuri chested a centering pass from Tab Ramos after a throw-in by Brian Bliss, took a right-footed touch past a defender and beat the goalkeeper, who may have had trouble seeing the ball in the sun.
“We’ve never looked back since,” Caligiuri said Tuesday. “We’ve become a premier power in CONCACAF. We’ve ranked in the top 10 in the world. Now our goals are set to try to win a World Cup one day. It’s amazing to see where we’re at. It’s strange to look at this as a pivotal moment in history, but it was.”
It very quickly created more opportunities for American players to land jobs in Europe.
“Every time I see Paul Caligiuri I thank him,” said Alexi Lalas, who was then a 19-year-old at Rutgers and went on to become a star defender for the national team and a television analyst. “It was the start of everything. It set in motion a series of events that, to be quite honest, continues to domino. If there ever was a match that lit the candle, that was it. I’m not sure he knew at the moment that was happening, but I think you can definitely trace it back to that moment, the modern-day American soccer story. That was page one, once upon a time.”
Perfectly summed up there, but read the whole article. And then watch this video US Soccer put together last year to commemorate the moment.