Monday, November 19, 2012

19 November 1989 - The Yanks Return To The Big Time

On 19 November 1989, a goal from midfielder Paul Caligiuri qualified the United States for their first World Cup in forty years.

The US had a short but interesting tournament history, including a third-place finish in 1930 and a famous upset victory over England in 1950. But they failed to qualify for the next nine competitions from 1954 to 1986.

Then in 1989, they entered their last day of CONCACAF qualification with a match against Trinidad and Tobago, whom they trailed by a single point for the last ticket to Italia '90. The two teams drew 1-1 in their first meeting, then met for the rematch at the National Stadium in the Port of Spain, with the hosts needing only a draw to advance to what would have been their first World Cup appearance.

Unfortunately for them, they conceded a critical goal in the 30th minute, when midfielder Paul Caligiuri received the ball, beat a defender, then launched a high arcing shot that just snuck into the goal past the diving keeper. That proved to be the difference as the US held on for the 0-1 victory and a trip to Italy.

Although they fell out of the tournament in the group stage, losing all three matches, they have qualified for every tournament since and advanced to the quarterfinals in 2002. Trinidad and Tobago eventually reached the World Cup as well, making it to Germany in 2006.

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