“What the hell?” That’s what forward Bruce Murray said when the United States Men’s National Team lined up to walk out into the stadium in Florence, Italy on June 10, 1990 to face Czechoslovakia in their World Cup opener. Standing next to Czech players who were big and tall, it provided some intimidation for the Americans, who were competing in their first World Cup in 40 years. Still, they had a job to do and they were looking to get a result against a team that was very strong and dominant in the air.
The result wasn’t pretty, but in the 60th minute, the USMNT got their moment in the sun. Paul Caligiuri intercepted the ball from Czechoslovakia on the run at midfield. Passing the ball and receiving it after making a quick run, he was past the last defender. The Czech goalkeeper, Jan Stejskal, came out to try and defend Caligiuri, but the American made a quick move to the right and, from about 16 yards out, slotted the ball into the goal. It was the first American World Cup goal since a Joe Maca penalty kick against Chile in the final group stage match of the 1950 World Cup.
Calgiuri is more commonly known for his “Shot Heard Round The World” goal against Trinidad and Tobago that qualified the USMNT for the 1990 World Cup. But, he will also go down as the first American World Cup goalscorer after a 40 year drought. He went on to have a Hall of Fame career, but he will forever be known for two of the most important goals in USMNT history.