Let’s be honest, to narrow down the top 10 goals in U.S. Men's National Team history is somewhat crazy. Rummaging through decades of U.S. soccer and determining a way to fairly rank every goal is one heck of a task.
What should weight more in this case: a technically beautiful goal or a goal that determines the fate of the team? So many variables, so many scenarios. How to make sense of it all?
Nevertheless, I have taken the task to heart, and put this collection together. Hopefully, this list balances the technical merit each goal deserves with the value it had to the team.
Benny Feilhaber didn't even think twice—he probably didn't even think once—before striking an insane volley to beat Mexican goalkeeper Osvaldo Sanchez in the 2007 Gold Cup.
Mexico's clearance of a U.S. corner kick wasn't particularly bad. It was just a moment where Benny was in the perfect spot at the perfect time.
His shot wasn't just the game-winner, it also helped the United States win the Gold Cup and secure a spot for the 2009 Confederations Cup.
Jozy Altidore’s goal over future World Cup champions, Spain, was a demonstration of the forward's ability to use his strength to win and possess a ball.
The U.S. miraculously progressed to the semifinals of 2009 Confederations Cup, and it needed another one to beat then No. 1-ranked Spain.
Altidore provided the first miracle by outmuscling his defender, Joan Capdevila—who was also his teammate at Villarreal—and took a shot on which Spanish keeper Iker Casillas got a touch, but wasn’t enough to prevent the 1-0 lead.
This first goal gave the U.S. confidence to tackle another, and was a peek at how Altidore can potentially benefit the U.S.
After the U.S. had gotten a 1-0 lead over Brazil at the 2009 Confederations Cup final, Brazil had left its defense exposed in pursuit of the equalizing goal.
The two fastest players in the USMNT at the time, Landon Donovan and Charlie Davies, took advantage of the room and put together a counterattack that showed what kind of threat the U.S. had going into the 2010 World Cup.
Sadly, the lead was lost, and Davies’ near-fatal accident changed the USMNT's plans after it qualified for the games in South Africa.
The man had to first gain his U.S. citizenship before considering playing for the USMNT, but a couple of years later he scored one of the United States' most famous goals.
Preki—born and raised in Yugoslavia—launched a 25-yard blast against 1994 World Cup champions Brazil, that went past goalkeeper Cláudio Tafarel and into the back of the net for the only goal of the game.
The U.S. went on to win the Gold Cup’s semifinal bout with a 1-0 win, mostly on the back of goalkeeper Kasey Keller—who had his most famous game against the Brazilians—and with the help of Preki's left-shooted shot.
Determination—that's the word to describe Charlie Davies' 21st-minute goal against Egypt at the 2009 Confederations Cup. Davies took advantage of miscommunication between the Egyptian goalie and his defender—who knocked the ball out of the keeper's hands.
Davies then fought two defenders against the touchline before finally toe-poking the ball off the keeper's face and into the back of the net.
Going into the match, the USMNT needed a crazy turn of events and a lot of luck to advance to the semifinals; Davies' goal was the beginning of what all thought was the impossible.
It was the Eric Wynalda show against Chile at the 1995 Copa America, scoring twice for the United States. But it was his second goal (0:54) that was impressive.
Off a 25-yard free kick, Wynalda sent the ball over the Chilean wall as well as over the hands of a diving goalkeeper to double the USMNT's lead. It was a well-paced ball high enough to not be reached by a leaping keeper, but low enough to just slip underneath the crossbar.
Even though it was a beauty of a goal from the U.S. striker, it wasn't the first time fans had seen Wynalda's deadly right foot.
The U.S. may have lost all its games in the 1990 World Cup, but the team showed glimmers of hope that it can play with the world’s best—or at least put together great combinations for chances at goal.
One of those glimmers was Paul Caliguiri’s goal against Czechoslovakia (skip to 3:19) that demonstrated the finesse of the Americans.
An intercepted ball by Caligiuri himself in the Americans' own half ended with the Hall of Famer receiving a long pass and beating the Czechoslovakian keeper for the American goal.
Being that this was the United States' first World Cup game in 40 years, seeing the Americans complete plays like Caligiuri's brought some hope that the U.S. would perform admirably at the world stage.
To date—and probably for many years after—Donovan’s goal against Algeria at the 2010 World Cup will be the most well-known goals ever scored by the USMNT.
It didn’t just prevent the elimination from the Americans, but it allowed the team to finish as group leaders over England.
It was an incredible goal—one started by a long throw by goalkeeper Tim Howard after Algeria had been threatening to score. The goal was also celebrated by the entire nation, captivating the minds of both hardcore and passive U.S. soccer fans.
As beautiful as the free kick against Chile was, it was Wynalda's 30-yard free-kick goal that caught the world's attention.
The U.S. was trailing 1-0 to Switzerland in their first game of the 1994 World Cup. Wynalda stepped up with pinpoint accuracy and delivered a ball to the upper-left corner and beyond the hands of Switzerland's goalkeeper.
The game-tying goal helped the United States earn its first point in World Cup play since 1950.
Paul Caligiuiri’s ridiculous bomb against Trinidad and Tobago gave the U.S. its first bid to a World Cup in 40 years.
This goal isn’t only the top goal in USMNT history for its beauty, but also for its significance to U.S. soccer.
The U.S. had already been given a bye for the following edition of the World Cup, which it hosted in 1994. Having been able to qualify in 1990, on its own merit, showed the world that the Americans were up and coming to hold their own against the world's best teams.
Let's face it, covering only the top 10 USMNT goals of all time, there were bound to be some goals that people thought were snubbed from the countdown. The U.S. has had many fantastic goals, some that probably deserve a shot at the top 10.
For example, there is Charlie Davies' goal against Mexico at the Azteca, or maybe the 2001 goal scored by Josh Wolff after beating Campos that began the USMNT's dominance over Mexico on American soil.
What about in 1995, when the U.S. upset Argentina 3-0? Those were very nice goals, especially the second one scored by Alexi Lalas.
Atidore's rocket against Guadeloupe was also impressive. And let's not forget that famous 1950 goal over England.
So, what are your top USMNT goals? Any that were just completely looked over that deserve some recognition?