Welcome to our new weekly column, Throwback Thursday! This column each week will bring us back in time to some of those classic matches for the United States, both for the MNT and the WNT. It could be World Cup matches, qualifiers, friendlies, classic moments within a match or goals that stand the test of time. But sometimes, you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.
We debut by going back to June 8, 2008. The scene is Giants Stadium, and the USMNT are facing Argentina, then the #1 ranked team in the world and dominant in every match they played. It was the eve of the beginning of World Cup qualifying for the USMNT, and they had a big name opponent with some guys that were already stars on the field: Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Javier Mascherano, and Martin Demichelis. USMNT coach Bob Bradley employed his A lineup against La Albiceleste. Kasey Keller was honored before the match for achieving 100 caps with the national team, but Tim Howard was starting in goal as the heir apparent to Keller as they set their sights on qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. Landon Donovan also earned his 100th cap with the start in this match.
The match was back and forth in the first half, with Argentina getting behind the American defensive line for a few chances at goal. However, Howard stopped them cold, including a couple breakaway opportunities. Donovan and Eddie Johnson sliced the defense to shreds to create several chances for the USMNT. Still, it was scoreless at halftime.
The second half saw the American defense lock down Argentina’s star attack. The Argentines only managed one shot, even after Pablo Maestroeni was sent off for a second yellow in the 71st minute. Javier Mascherano saw red in the 86th minute to level the teams at 10 players each. As the rain began to fall late in the match, the Americans were energized and made a late push, but could not get the winning goal.
The match ended in a 0-0 draw, but it wasn’t the scoreline that made this match special. It was a magical effort against the number one team in the world, one that gave the players a boost in confidence before beginning World Cup qualifying. To hold a team like that scoreless on a hot, humid night in New Jersey is a fantastic result. It’s that kind of spirited play that defined the USMNT throughout Bob Bradley’s tenure. It was, coincidentally, my first match I have seen in person. Ten years and 80 caps later, this match still is a great example of what the USMNT can achieve with determined play and never quitting, even when the team gives up a lot in talent level to their opponent.
Relive that awesome night and hit the comments to let us know what you took away from this great match in history.