Ranking Team USA's 7 Greatest Victories

Will Tidey@willtideySenior Manager, GlobalMarch 1, 2012

Ranking Team USA's 7 Greatest Victories

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    Jurgen Klinsmann's Team USA pulled off a seismic shock on Wednesday night, with a 1-0 victory against 2006 World Cup winners Italy in Genoa.

    Clint Dempsey's second-half goal made it four straight wins for the USMNT under Klinsmann and raised hopes still further that the German can lead his team to a good run at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

    The win over Italy was arguably one of the greatest in the history of US men's soccer. Here are my top seven, compiled with the help of B/R's very own resident USMNT authority, Dan Levy.

7. USA 1-0 Brazil (1998)

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    Anytime you beat Brazil you make headlines, and in February 1998 the U.S. had Kasey Keller to thank for an inspired performance against the world champions.

    Predrag Radosavljevic scored the only goal of the Gold Cup semifinal, while Keller's heroics denied a Brazil team boasting the attacks talents of Romario.

    The U.S. would go on to lose the final against Mexico however.

6. Italy 0-1 USA (2012)

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    Jurgen Klinsmann's team arrived in Genoa having failed to beat Italy in their previous 10 attempts—with seven of those being defeats against the four-time world champions.

    But this time, they were ready. Klinsmann laid out a tight midfield formation, with two holding players, and his tactics worked a treat.

    Clint Dempsey's winner achieved a notable scalp for the U.S.—not just beating Italy, but doing so on their own patch, too.

    Here's Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl with his take on the game.

5. Portugal 2-3 USA (2002)

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    Portugal were one of the strongest teams at the tournament and would have been expecting a straightforward victory when they met Team USA in the group stages of the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea.

    But remarkably, Bruce Arena's team found themselves 3-0 up after 36 minutes, after goals from John O'Brien and Brian McBride, and an own goal from Jorge Costa left the Portuguese reeling

    They pulled two back in the second half, but the U.S. were not to be denied in Suwon. They went on to reach the quarterfinals, where Germany achieved the narrowest of 1-0 wins to send them home.

4. USA 2-0 Mexico (2002)

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    After a miserable campaign at the 1998 World Cup, Team USA arrived in Japan and Korea with a point to prove.

    In the group stages, a win against Portugal (as we've seen), a draw with South Korea and a loss to Poland were enough to see Bruce Arena's team into the last 16—where they'd meet bitter rivals Mexico.

    Most expected Mexico to progress, but goals from Brian McBride and Landon Donovan sent the U.S. through and sent a message to the rest of the world that they meant business.

3. Spain 0-2 USA (2009)

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    Spain were European Champions and on course for their coronation as World Cup winners a year later when they met the U.S. in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup in 2009.

    It was a Spain team that boasted the likes of Iker Casillas, Xavi, Carles Puyol, Xabi Alonso, David Villa and Fernando Torres (back when he was unplayable), but they couldn't deny Bob Bradley's men in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

    Goals from Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey did for Spain, who lost for the first time since 2006 and missed out on the opportunity to claim the record for the longest unbeaten run in international football history.

    The US prevailed despite losing Michael Bradley to a late red card and had goalkeeper Tim Howard to thank for a superb performance between the sticks.

2. USA 1-0 England (1950)

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    One the great shocks in World Cup history, Team USA's 1-0 win against England in 1950 has become known as "the miracle on grass."

    The finals that year were being played in Brazil and England arrived with a squad boasting some of the biggest stars in the game—the likes of Tom Finney, Billy Wright and Stanley Matthews.

    Matthews wasn't picked to play against the US, however, and England's manager Walter Winterbottom surely came to regret it when his team suffered an embarrassing defeat.

    The match was sealed by Joe Gaetjens' goal in the first half, with the Haitian-born midfielder deflecting a shot past the England goalkeeper.

1. USA 2-1 Colombia (1994)

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    I badly needed a US perspective to get this list right and B/R's National Lead Writer Dan Levy was happy to oblige.

    Here's Dan's take on why the U.S. victory over Colombia at World Cup 1994 was so huge for the national team's fortunes.

    "The win over Colombia was the biggest win in US Soccer history, in my opinion. It's marred by Andres Escobar's murder after the own goal, but the game itself meant more to U.S. soccer than any other.

    "Winning a world cup match against a powerhouse team (that match basically destroyed Colombian soccer for decades, but at the time they were a South American powerhouse) that eventually moved us on to the knockout round was enormous. Yes, the U.S. finished third in its group, but still, they advanced.

    "If it wasn't for the success of the 94 World Cup in America (every stadium was sold out), thanks in large part to the U.S. getting into the knockout and only losing to eventual champion Brazil 1-0, giving us some real hope for the future of the sport here, MLS wouldn't exist."