US Men's National Team: Top 10 Moments (Video)

Juan Carlos SalasContributor IIINovember 16, 2011

US Men's National Team: Top 10 Moments (Video)

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    As the U.S. Men’s National Team goes through some growing pains with new head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, let’s look back at some happier times. 

    For the last 20 years, the USMNT has been able to create memorable moments for its fans and the world to never forget. 

    With each moment, the national team has shown the world it that can hang with the best, and even though it has struggled a bit to stay up there, these 10 moments fuel the passion of every USMNT fan. 

No. 10: B-B-B-Benny!!!

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    Looking back today, this match wasn’t so much a victory over Mexico for the 2007 Gold Cup as a secured trip to the 2009 Confederations Cup. 

    The dramatic victory over the southern neighbors was no doubt worth celebrating, but the opportunities that it allowed a few years later has a bigger value.

    With that said, Benny Feilhaber’s strike was a work of art.

    And a victory over Mexico is always sweet—especially when it includes a trophy and a foothold dominance on home turf.

No. 9: Heavy-Hearted Equalizer

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    The USMNT's spot for the 2010 World Cup was already secured, but its last match of qualifiers against Costa Rica was played not 24 hours after the horrific accident forward Charlie Davies suffered.

    The entire team had to play with heavy hearts, and deep into stoppage time the U.S. managed to tie the game at 2-2 off a Jonathan Bornstein header—sending an entire stadium into a chaotic roar. 

    The draw earned the U.S. the first place slot in the qualifying hexagonal, and was a sweet and redeeming moment for the USMNT in honor of its fallen patriot.  

    As the team and fans alike celebrated, the only person in everybody’s mind was Charlie Davies—who took several years before lacing his boots to play professional soccer again. 

No. 8: Downing the Champs

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    It was a bomb from Preki that helped the USMNT beat the 1994 World Cup champs Brazil with a 1-0 mark in this 1998 Gold Cup semifinal match. 

    This match also displayed one of the best performances by any American keeper in U.S. soccer history. 

    Kasey Keller recorded 10 saves, including amazing individual work against Brazil’s Romario—whom Keller frustrated with impossible saves. 

    Keller’s stops were so remarkable, the Spanish broadcaster narrating the game commented things like, “If he was once a hero, now he’s Batman!” and “Please, gather the cement and just build him a monument!”

No. 7: Dream Start

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    After a horrific 1998 World Cup performance, USMNT fans were cautious about its chances in 2002.

    But a surprising 3-2 victory over Portugal brought signs of hope for this team.

    With goals from John O'Brien, Landon Donovan and Brian McBride, the U.S. started the 2002 World Cup campaign, considered the best in recent memory.

    The game did get dicey as Portugal got two goals back—including an own goal by Jeff Agoos—but the U.S. held off to earn its first victory since the 1994 World Cup.

No. 6: Comeback Kids

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    The life was slowly fading away for the USMNT, and only a victory would be enough to survive. 

    With the game scoreless and just entering stoppage time, a long throw by Tim Howard found the feet of Landon Donovan, who exploded down the field.

    Every soccer fan has seen this video of Donovan’s goal that sent the U.S. to the second round of the 2010 World Cup. 

    This moment showed the gritty, never-give-up attitude that this national team displayed under Bob Bradley, but it also instilled a deeper appreciation of the national team into the heart of America.

No. 5: Shot Heard Around the World

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    It had been 40 years since the U.S. had participated in a World Cup, and it was Paul Caligiuri's long-distance strike against Trinidad and Tobago that sent the Americans back.

    This time to the 1990 World Cup.   

    When people refer to the moment when U.S. soccer rose form the ashes, it will be this 1-0 victory and Caliguiri's "shot heard around the world" that everyone will look back to.

    There’s not much to say about this goal—all fans understand its meaning and its significance.

    Without this wonder-strike, soccer’s history may have been completely altered.

No. 4: Defending Home Turf

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    This game has a dark cloud due to the unfortunate fate of Colombian defender Andres Escobar.

    But before those developments occurred, the United States beating Colombia 2-1 in its second game of the 1994 World Cup was a huge deal. 

    The Colombians had knocked everyone out en route to the 1994 World Cup and were considered favorites by most to win the whole thing. 

    But the Colombians couldn't handle the pressure from an entire nation, and others from questionable sources, and it broke the team—starting with Escobar's own goal.

    In the second half, Earnie Stewart doubled the USMNT's lead, and even though Colombia did get one goal back, it was too late. 

    The win over Colombia allowed the U.S. to squeak by into the knockout stages, where it lost to eventual champs Brazil.

    You can forward to the goals at 5:10 (Escobar), 6:55 (Stewart) and 9:00 (Valencia).

No. 3: CONCACAF Showdown

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    This win will be one that every USMNT fan will carry in their back pocket every time there’s an argument on which team is better. 

    Entering the knockout stages of the 2002 World Cup, the U.S. was paired with Mexico for a chance to reach the quarterfinals.

    The match was a slobber knocker—as most USA-Mexico games are—and the U.S. came out victorious with a 2-0 score line behind goals by Brian McBride and Landon Donovan. 

    Let’s also not forget the nasty headbutt Mexico captain Rafael Marquez gave Cobi Jones at the closing minutes of the match.

No. 2: South American Shock

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    Most recent memories of Copa America have been sour for U.S. soccer fans, but in the 1990s, it was historical. 

    The U.S. was invited to the 1995 edition of the oldest soccer tournament in the world—held in Uruguay. 

    The Americans became the Cinderella team after winning its group with a 2-1 win over Chile in its first game and later shocking the continent with a 3-0 trouncing of Argentina

    Frank Klopas, Alexi Lalas and Eric Wynalda each scored for the U.S. to help the team progress to the quarterfinals and an eventual fourth-place finish in the tournament.   

    The win—maybe one overlooked by many—affected the USMNT greatly by boosting the career of many of its players. 

No. 1: Dethroning the Kings

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    The USMNT had the miracle 3-0 win over Egypt to reach the semifinals of the 2009 Confederations Cup, and that would have been enough to deem the tournament a successful one.

    Surely a victory over Spain—ranked No. 1 by FIFA and undefeated in 36 games—would be almost impossible. 

    Word of advice—don’t tell Americans they can’t do something. 

    Goals by Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, alongside plenty of sacrificing defending, led the Americans to defeat Spain 2-0 and reach their first FIFA competition final in history.