Tuesday, June 10, 2008

100 Cap Club: Paul Caligiuri

When Landon Donovan earned his membership into the ‘100 Cap Club’ in the 0-0 draw against No. 1-ranked Argentina – becoming the fourth youngest player in soccer history to achieve that mark! - he joined 10 American men in this highly exclusive fraternity. Each U.S. player before him reached the century mark in a unique and, in some cases, historic way. With Donovan’s story now told, ussoccer.com has set out to provide a chronicle of the memorable ways in which the previous 10 players joined the elite band of brothers who have proudly worn the jersey at least 100 times for the United States.

Paul Caligiuri

Caps: 110
First Cap: Oct. 9, 1984
100th Cap: July 14, 1995 vs. Argentina
Era: 1984-1997

One of the most memorable games in Paul Caligiuri’s career is also one of the most memorable upsets in U.S. Soccer history. In the first round of the 1995 Copa America, the United States needed a 3-0 win against perennial world power Argentina to win its group and avoid playing Brazil in the quarterfinals- a long shot, to say the least. By starting and playing the entire game, Caligiuri helped solidify the U.S. defense and shutout Argentina’s powerful attack in his 100th game to secure the incredible 3-0 upset victory. The win against Argentina, which seemed next to impossible on paper, is considered to be one of the greatest victories in the team’s history. He was just the second player to join the exclusive 100 club for the Americans.

Listen to a full podcast with Paul Caligiuri here.

Here's a video of highlights from the 1995 game between the USA and Argentina in Copa America (The video first aired in ussoccer.com's Studio 90 show before the Argentina game last week):

Caligiuri’s most famous performance, however, came against Trinidad & Tobago on November 19, 1989 in what is arguably the biggest moment in U.S. soccer history. He scored the only goal in the 1-0 victory that sent the United States to the World Cup for the first time in 40 years. His “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” was the biggest of Caligiuri’s five career goals. One of the best players in U.S. history, the Hall of Fame defender played in the 1986 FIFA World All-Star game and had a career that spanned 14 years (1984-1997).

Caligiuri on his 100th appearance:
“It was an emotional day. The mayor of the city presented me with a key to the city before the game. I remember that Daniel Pasarella and Diego Maradona were in the crowd. Argentina had all of their players, and we had all of ours. And I would say we deserved to beat them. Beating a high level opponent in a big competition and being on the field with so many close friends made it a very important moment in my life.”

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