U.S. Advances in World Cup: Most Significant Matches in American Soccer
All right, let's get this one out for the record, for the presses. Landon Donovan's 91st minute winner in Pretoria brought a nation of 300 million plus to its feet.
The USA's 1-0 victory over Algeria sends the States back to the Round of 16 for the first time since 2002.
This brings up a question as valuable as a million dollar baby: where does this rank among the most significant matches in American soccer history?
Yours truly has come up with a list of the most significant matches that the Stars and Stripes took part in.
You can take them in the order they are given, or not, but they are still the top 10 in terms of significance.
10. USA 2, Colombia 1
In the 1994 FIFA World Cup, the States were looking for their first win in the FIFA World Cup Finals since 1950.
Earnie Stewart earned the game-winning goal in the 52nd minute for the USA en route to their 2-1 victory over Colombia, but Andres Escobar's own goal proved to be the ultimate difference.
Ten days after, Escobar was shot and killed in a bar outside the suburbs of Medellin. Nonetheless, the victory proved to be a landmark result for the States.
9. USA 1, Algeria 0
Down to three minutes remaining in their World Cup campaign, the USA looked as if they would have to be content with three draws, nothing less and nothing more.
But Landon Donovan wanted none of it. It would eventually be up to him to capitalize on the blunder by Algerian goalkeeper Rais M'Bolhi, tapping it in well out of his reach.
8. USA 1, Trinidad and Tobago 0
Paul Caligiuri's "Shot Heard Round The World" took place in the 30th minute before a sellout crowd of 35,000 at the National Stadium in Port of Spain on Nov. 19, 1989.
It gave the USA their first-ever FIFA World Cup Finals appearance since 1950 and set the wheels in motion for qualifying for the world's biggest sporting event on a consistent basis.
7. USA 2, Costa Rica 2
Now, the USA already qualified for the FIFA World Cup on the last day of qualifying in the CONCACAF Hexagonal of Fate.
But with Charlie Davies suffering serious injuries due to an auto accident (he would go on to survive the crash), morale was at an all-time low.
Down 2-0 heading into the second half, the States needed to muster all their strength into finishing strong for their fallen comrade, the No. 9 of the Red, White, and Blue.
Michael Bradley got the Yanks back into it in the 71st minute, but Jonathan Bornstein's last gasp goal in the 94th minute sent the crowd at Washington's Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium into a delirious frenzy.
The USA went on to finish first in the Hexagonal. Costa Rica went on to be eliminated by Uruguay in the intercontinental playoffs.
6. USA 1, England 0
No one should ever forget the legacy of Joe Gaetjens.
On June 29, 1950, his goal in the 37th minute brought the crowd in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, to their feet.
Thanks to expert defending and a solid goalkeeping performance by Frank Borghi, the USA scored an impressive 1-0 victory over the Three Lions in the 1950 FIFA World Cup.
If only Gaetjens had gotten the heck out of Haiti when Dr. Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier was ruling the roost...I think he would have lived to tell his grandkids about it.
5. USA 3, Portugal 2
It was one of the biggest sucker punches (or is that soccer punches?) of the tournament.
During the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Suwon, goals by John O'Brien and Brian McBride to go with an own goal by Jorge Costa was enough for the USA to score a crucial 3-2 victory over Portugal.
While Beto and an own goal in the second half by Jeff Agoos made things pretty dicey for the Yanks, it would not be enough for the Seleçao to catch up with the USA, who would go on to progress to the knockout stages.
4. USA 1, England 1
While they had their share of success in international friendlies, England had yet to beat the USA at the FIFA World Cup.
On June 12, 2010, the drought continued.
Steven Gerrard gave the Three Lions hope in the fourth minute. However, surely no one in the mother country of football expected goalkeeper Robert Green to give up a howler to Clint Dempsey in the 44th minute of play.
As a matter of fact, Jozy Altidore had a golden chance to make it two straight victories against England late in the second half. Ultimately, the Yanks settled for the point split—and an unbeaten record.
While it will be possible for England and the USA to face each other again, let's just say that it will take an Act of God before the Three Lions get another chance to break their dry spell.
3. USA 2, Mexico 0
It's always a nice feeling to beat your longtime rival. It's even better when you do it in the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup Finals.
In 2002, the USA did just that, scoring a 2-0 win over Mexico in Jeonju on June 17, 2002.
Goals by Brian McBride in the eighth minute and Landon Donovan in the 65th sparked one of the biggest victories by the USA in FIFA World Cup competition.
The USA went on to lose in the quarterfinals to eventual runners-up Germany, but not before lifting their heads high, knowing that they made a huge statement to the footballing universe: when it comes to the world game, the USA does indeed matter.
2. USA 3, Paraguay 0
The USA's 3-0 result over Belgium on July 12, 1930 could have also been in this position, but there are two reasons why this result is here.
First, I can only fit one match into this slot. And secondly, at the 1930 FIFA World Cup, Bert Patenaude (bottom center in this picture) wrote his name into the record books as the first-ever player to score a hat trick in the competition's illustrious history.
Goals in the 10th, 15th and 50th minutes sunk the Paraguayans at the Estadio Parque Central in Montevideo on July 17, 1930. This assured the USA of third place, which remains to this very day their best-ever World Cup Finals finish.
1. USA 2, Spain 0
This breakthrough performance on June 24, 2009 at the Free State Stadium in Bloenfontein must go down as the best performance by the USA in the nation's history, and it's not even a World Cup final nor qualification match!
Vicente Del Bosque's Furia Roja did not expect Bob Bradley's men to pull off one of the most inspired performances you will ever see. One of the top teams in the world, Spain, falls in grand fashion to the States.
A goal by Jozy Altidore in the 27th minute set the wheels in motion, and it was Clint Dempsey who sealed the fate of the Spaniards in the 74th.
The USA went on to finish second at the 2009 Confederations Cup, the best result thus far by the Yanks at a FIFA international tournament.