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Throwback Thursday: Paul Caligiuri hits “The Shot” to send the USMNT to the World Cup

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His strike broke a 40-year World Cup drought for the Americans.

Paul Caligiuri

When the United States Men’s National Team headed to Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago on November 19, 1989, they did so with one goal: qualify for the 1990 World Cup. A win was necessary to qualify, as a loss or draw to the Soca Warriors would have seen them head to Italy instead of the United States. This match was for all the marbles.

The United States, at that point, had not been to the World Cup since 1950. With a win on the road, the team would go back to the world’s tournament. The 1994 World Cup had already been granted to the United States at the time, but these group of players weren’t set on waiting 4 more years to break the World Cup drought. They wanted that glory immediately.

The USMNT and the Soca Warriors both had a couple chances early, but it was in the 30th minute where magic happened. After receiving a pass from Bruce Murray, Paul Caligiuri would sidestep a Trinidadian defender and, from about 30 yards out, launches an arcing, left-footed shot into the right side of the net past the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Michael Maurice to make it 1-0.

The USMNT, who were absolute underdogs to make it out of World Cup qualifying to advance to the 1990 World Cup, held on for a 1-0 victory and secured their trip to Italy. Back home, Calgiuri’s goal was dubbed “The Shot,” as it served notice that the USMNT were back on the world’s stage. Media became highly interested in it, and Paul Caligiuri and the rest of the USMNT became household names in soccer circles. For many, it was their first introduction to the United States Men’s National Team, and it propelled the program into the limelight as a team to notice.

Do you remember “The Shot” when it happened? Was it your introduction to U.S. Soccer? Let us know where “The Shot” ranks for you among U.S. Soccer’s iconic moments.