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Great Moments in U.S. World Cup History

June 27, 2010

For the second time in four years, Ghana put an end to American World Cup hopes. Making the loss more painful were the catastrophic defensive lapses and first half midfield woes that were the undoing of a much stronger U.S squad than four years ago. Still, American fans will always have the heroic comeback against Slovenia and the "Euphoria in Pretoria" against Algeria.
Here, then, is a look back at great moments in U.S. World Cup history.
2010: USA 1, Algeria 0. No doubt, Landon Donovan's injury-time game winner against the Desert Foxes is the greatest of them all. After 90 minutes of a match the U.S. dominated, Donovan's 91st minute rebound erased the agony of another wrongly disallowed score and Clint Dempsey goal-post bashing blast. Draws against England and Slovenia along with the clean sheet against the Algerians gave the U.S. its first group win since 1930. The Americans dismal three-and-out in Germany in 2006 quickly became a distant memory.

2002. USA 3, Portugal 2. Largely overlooked ins this year's Cinderella story is that the U.S. team advanced further eight years ago. And it all started with a shocking upset of powerhouse Portugal. Tallies by John O'Brien and Brian McBride and a Portuguese defender's deflection of a ball from a 20-year old Landon Donovan produced a quick 3-0 lead for the United States. Better still, the U.S. then dispatched bitter rival Mexico 2-0 in the round of 16 before falling to 1-0 to Germany in the quarterfinals. Only stellar netminding by German keeper Oliver Kahn and an uncalled hand ball on Torsten Frings kept the U.S. from moving on.

1994: USA 2, Colombia 1. As World Cup host in 1994, the U.S. enjoyed a startling first round run that took them to the knockout stage. The most memorable chapter came against Colombia, a team picked by many to reach the semis. The U.S. shocked the Colombians in a match where the difference was an own-goal by defender Andres Escobar. (As recounted in a new ESPN documentary, Escobar was murdered after returning home.) Sadly, the Americans were bounced in the knockout stage by eventual Cup winners Brazil. In that ugly 1-0 match, Brazil's Leonardo was ejected for an elbow that fractured the skull of American Tab Ramos.
1950: USA 1, England 0. Between 1950 and 1990, the United States suffered through a 40 year drought in which failed to qualify for the World Cup each and every time. But sixty years ago, an American team of unknowns authored perhaps the greatest upset in World Cup history. Generations later, that 1-0 shutout of England, the so-called "Miracle on Grass," remains a mystery on the other side of the pond.


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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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