Landon Donovan scored the most famous goal in United States history when he saved the Americans' 2010 World Cup hopes against Algeria, but was it the most important? Maybe the own goal that Andres Escobar scored in the 1994 World Cup, helping put the U.S. in the round of 16 of the tournament they hosted was. Or maybe it was neither.
The most important goal in U.S. history was scored in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago way back in 1989. On November 19, 1989, in fact, exactly 25 years ago.
That is when Paul Caligiuri hit a looping shot from 25 yards that the goalkeeper appeared to lose in the sun, allowing it to drop in the back of the net and send the United States to the 1990 World Cup -- their first World Cup since 1950.
That day marked the start of modern American soccer. It sent the U.S. to the World Cup again, and they have qualified for every single one since. It also set the stage for the all-important 1994 World Cup.
The 1994 World Cup was hosted by the U.S. and hugely responsible for the first growth of popularity for the sport in the country. It also led to the creation of Major League Soccer, which is the biggest development the sport has ever had in the U.S. But there were rumors that if the U.S. did not qualify for the 1990 World Cup that they would be stripped of the right to host four years later.
Caligiuri ensured that wouldn't be a problem. He put the U.S. in their first World Cup since 1950. He made sure they would host the World Cup. He started modern American soccer ... 25 years ago today.