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A look back at the Shot Heard Around the World

U.S. Soccer centennial crest


Nearly a quarter-century ago, the U.S. Men’s National Team started a trend of reaching World Cups thanks to a historic goal from Paul Caligiuri.

It was 24 years ago to the day that Caligiuri struck “the Shot Heard Around the World” with his left foot to lift the U.S. to a 1-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago and clinch a spot in the 1990 World Cup in Italy. The Americans had not played in a World Cup finals since 1950, but Caligiuri ended that embarrassing streak with a blast from distance that will forever remain a part of U.S. Soccer history.

Since that match back on Nov. 19, 1989, the U.S. has not missed out on a single World Cup. The Americans have qualified for seven consecutive tournaments, including next summer’s competition in Brazil.

Here are (some old-fashioned) highlights from that historic game against Trinidad & Tobago:



How do you look back on Caligiuri’s Shot Heard Around the World from 24 years ago? What are your memories of it or were you too young back then? What is the funniest part of that highlights package?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I was only 7 when this took place, and I wouldn’t discover soccer for another eight or nine years, but I do feel like I grew up listening to JP Dellacamera, watching Champions League games on ESPN2 in the late 90s. Good times!

    • We listened to the radio after dinner, fireplace stoked, with homemade brownies and vanilla ice cream. No headaches, except for the ice cream rush.

    • Individually, yes… but it remains to be seen how they play as a team. 2002 had a lot of things go their way. It was a catalyst for what we have today. The ’02 WC did an enormous amount for MLS.

      • While I agree, I keep seeing people give the 2002 team props for being our best 11 ever and I just don’t know if that’s true. Depending on how far the current squad gets in 2014 the 2002 team might remain the most successful team ever but its hard for me to buy that its is the best team we’ve fielded to date.

    • Most US games weren’t broadcasted…and especially away matches.
      It was always difficult to follow the team….I remember having to go through the sports sections of the paper to find out results on the 90 WC group rounds….wasn’t really until the knockout rounds that you could catch the game on regular TV.

  2. This was huge.

    No other federation has come as far as the USSF, both on and off the field, since 1989. The USA has qualified for seven straight World and advanced into the second round in 3 of the six played. The US has supplanted Mexico as the regional powerhouse and is one of the wealthiest federations in the world. I think the ticket allocation for Brazil ’14 is an indication of the growth of the game in this country.

    That team deserves a tremendous amount of credit. They were a team of amateurs and really started the ball rolling for USA soccer.

    For what it is worth, the 2002 team remains the benchmark for the USMNT. The talent on that starting eleven was far and away the best we have ever had. Claudio Reyna being named to the tournament’s ‘Best Eleven’ was a high mark for an individual player from the USMNT. [John Harkes’ co-MVP of the 1995 Copa America is a distant second.]

    Good stuff!

  3. As much glory as we give that one shot there were like four other one goal victories that the US had in that campaign, each goal vital for making the World Cup. What’s more, there were several additional ties, so basically if any goalkeeper of ours let in one more goal in something like 80% of the qualifiers we would have missed the World Cup.
    Funny how the last guy, P Caligiuri gets the glory but everyone had a huge role in making his goal matter.

    • Okay, here’s a bit of my train of thought lined out a little better. A rough draft from something I’m writing for a book on American soccer…

      There were plenty of people who played a large role in the successful qualification campaign in 1990, but Caligiuri often gets the most credit for his goal. We appreciate the importance of that goal, but we should be reminded that had the US let in a goal and settled for a tie in that match then Trinidad and Tobago would have earned the World Cup spot instead of the US. In fact, had the US let in just one additional goal in any of their last seven World Cup qualifiers then the US would have missed out on the cup. Hugo Perez’s winner against El Salvador, Eric Eichmann’s against Guatemala, Steve Trittschuh’s goal to set up a tie against Trinidad and Tobago in the May qualifier, and Tab Ramos’ winner against Costa Rica were all as equally important as Caligiuri’s “shot heard ‘round the world!”

    • I’d bet T&T’s goalie wishes he was wearing a baseball hat during the first half. He’s looking directly into the sun for Caligiuri’s shot.

    • It looked like he had football/baseball style black lines under his eyes too. USA USA USA! Seriously though, as a keeper born in 89, Meola was the first keeper I knew and my first idol. Remember having a Meola soccer card as a prized possession.

  4. It’s amazing the transformation from 1989 to 2013. I had forgotten how bad things were back then, compared to the quality of our players now. Not to mention the mullets & shorts that were sported.

    • That’s what most strikes me, too. Just the differences in terms of the speed of the game, the crispness, the athleticism. Night and day. Reminds me of clips of, say, Babe Ruth’s era. Those guys were throwing basically changeups back then. Nothing like the 95 mph of today. Sports in general now, at the highest levels, are just lightning-fast.

  5. I’ve always wondered how the old US World Cup teams would match up vs today’s team? I’m thinking:

    2013 > 1990
    2013 > 1994
    2013 > 1998 (This team was a complete mess, though.)
    2002 > 2013. I actually think that the 2002 team would kick the crap out of today’s team.
    2006 = 2013

      • I think Brett has it right. The 2013 team is still a work in progress but I’d say its a coin flip between the 02 & 13 squads starting 11. Bench wise I’d take the 13 over the 02.
        BTW you forgot the 2010 comparison…..

        2013 > 2010

      • I tend to agree. BTW, here is the 2002 roster – we had a lot of attacking options!

        Agoos, Jeff – D
        Armas, Chris – M
        Beasley, DaMarcus – F
        Berhalter, Gregg – D
        Donovan, Landon – F
        Friedel, Brad – G
        Hejduk, Frankie – M
        Jones, Cobi – M
        Keller, Kasey – G
        Lewis, Eddie – M
        Llamosa, Carlos – D
        Mastroeni, Pablo – D/M
        Mathis, Clint – M/F
        McBride, Brian – F
        Meola, Tony – GK
        Moore, Joe-Max – F
        O’Brien, John – M
        Pope, Eddie – D
        Regis, David – D
        Reyna, Claudio – M
        Sanneh, Tony – M/D
        Stewart, Earnie – M/F
        Wolff, Josh – F

      • I loved these guys. But who would even make the ’14 plane from this list? My picks:

        1. Reyna
        2. O’Brien
        3. Sanneh (’cause we have no right back)
        4. Lewis (’cause we have no left mid)
        5. Friedel
        6. Keller

      • Would take Earnie Stewart over Eddie Lewis as the LM. Earnie was a class act.
        Pope is one of the all time best CB’s for the US…would take him over Gonzo.
        Reyna, O’Brien & Freidel…Hell Ya, but would take Howard & Guzan over Keller.

      • From this list, I thin that the following would make our current team:

        Reyna (imagine him with Bradley!)
        Pope – start
        McBride – starter

      • The 2006 team tied the eventual winner in a thrilling short handed game. It’s the most underrated result in USMNT history, far more signficant than the friendlies the 2013 team won.

        I live in great hope that 2014 > 2006, but for now, 2006 > 2013

      • Good call Tony. Was fortunate to attend that US v ITA match, and consider it the greatest, most exciting game I’ve seen in person, a total rollercoaster that left me and everyone else exhausted.

        Great to shake hands with the Italian fans afterwards. There had been some animosity during the game, but there was mutual respect after the whistle.

        Strongly agree Beasley’s goal should’ve stood, and that was probably one of Keller’s Top 3 performances in a US shirt.

      • I too was at that game. I have never seen such a small area packed by so many people. Must have doubled the population of kaiserslautern that day.

        I’m still pissed at Mastro & Pope for being reckless when we KNEW that the ref was going to have a make-up red come out at some point.

        We had them if we kept 11 men on the field.

        I was so exhausted after that game and we had a 10am flight in brussels to catch the next day. What a long night of driving.

      • You guys are surely kidding about that offsides call, right? It was absolutely the correct call according to the Laws of the Game.

  6. This phrase “shot heard around the world” has been asociated with several major historical events, primarily the assassination of Franz Ferdinand leading to WWI as well as the outbreak of the American Revolution. Events that had global consequences….

      • It is honestly probably the least heard of all things ever referred to as “the shot heard around the world”.

      • While I think that Munster could have expressed himself less…pretentiously…I have to agree with the substance of his comment. A more accurate, if less catchy, title might be “The Shot Heard Around A Relatively Insignificant Region Of World Soccer And In Switzerland Where FIFA Executives Started To Count Their Millions.”

        It’s a typically American fault: we assume that anything important to us must be important to the rest of the world. (See: NBA teams as “World Champion,” Super Bowl described as “World’s most popular sporting event.”)

      • Please, its not that we think the rest of the world cares, its more of a marketing gimmick for the American fan to add significance to an event. Don’t tell me other countries media and sports cultures don’t do the same.

    • And it’s also been used in reference to a home run that Bobby Thompson hit to send the Giants to the World Series in 1951. Get over yourself, indeed.

      • Well, if we’re going to be so technical about it, I think a physics teacher would tell us that it would be impossible for ANYTHING to be heard around the world (at the same time, which I think is implied).

        Unless the sun blew up or something.

        OH, it’s a metaphor! (which I’m not sure everyone is aware, but should be,that the word metaphor is actually pronounced differently in Appalachia than it is in the rest of the country. I grew up saying meta-fore while my Appalachian friends pronounce it meta-fur.)

        Where were we again? Oh, yes. Port of Spain, which oddly enough is NOT in Spain, which reminds me, strangely, of Paris, Texas.

  7. i was a senior in boarding school in germany when i read about this in the NYT the next day. at the time, i didn’t realize what a big deal it was.

    Meola’s mullet tho…

    • Where in Germany was the school? I Worked at a boarding school in the south west of Germany. pretty much on the boarder of Germany, Switzerland and France

      • Worked at Sonnehaus, up the hill, it might have been a girls dorm at the time. We were there 4 years ago with my wife and then 2 year old son. We were dorm parents to 22 high school boys it was controlled chaos but we loved it to death. I’m sure the school has changed a bunch but the town probably remains the same. Our goal is to go back for a longer time in 5-8 years when our kids are older.

      • That’s awesome. I was at HBR all 3 years. Great memories. I was able to take my wife there for a reunion in 2008 and, honestly, very little had changed except for the school being a little bigger. Kandern and surroundings were the same. Even the hardplatz soccer field was intact. I’d love for my kids to experience it, even if for just a year

      • Do it, you know it will be a great experience for your kids. Plus they always need workers. Teachers and dorm parents ect. Are you on Facebook?

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