By Clemente Lisi – NEW YORK, NY (Oct 5, 2015) US Soccer Players – The USMNT is no stranger to playing in big games. Throughout it’s history, the National Team has been placed in a position where it had to earn a victory. The “must-win” match comes up every so often – a game on the final day of World Cup Qualifying, a Confederations Cup knockout match, and even a decisive game in the first round of the World Cup.
The USMNT finds itself once again in a “must-win” situation. The team takes on Mexico on October 10 at the Rose Bowl in the CONCACAF Cup. The winner advances to represent the region at the 2017 Confederations Cup.
“This is about representing my country,” USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann told USSoccer.com. “This is about belief and a high-level of aggressiveness in a one-off game to beat Mexico and to get to the Confederations Cup. It’s a unique opportunity, and you have to embrace it and give everything you have.”
Giving it everything you have is the key in these high-profile matches. Klinsmann knows that from his time as a player and manager. The former German international played in the ultimate must-win match, a World Cup final.
As the USMNT prepares to take on its biggest rival, here is a look at five memorable “must-win” games that the USMNT did win, victories that put the Americans on another level.
1934 World Cup Qualifier
With a berth to the World Cup on the line, the United States defeated Mexico – the first big game between the two nations that would someday turn into a major regional rivalry – to qualify for the 1934 World Cup. The one-game playoff, played right on the eve of the tournament, was played in Rome, a move that forced both nations to make the journey to Italy. Aldo “Buff” Donelli scored a hat trick in the 4-2 win.
1990 World Cup Qualifier
In what was the biggest match for the USMNT since it defeated England 1-0 at the 1950 World Cup, the Americans defeated Trinidad & Tobago 1-0 with Paul Caligiuri scoring the game’s only goal to send the USA to Italia ’90. The goal – later dubbed the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World – jumpstarted interest in soccer in this country and put the team on the path it finds itself today.
2002 World Cup (Round of 16)
Once again, the USA faced Mexico in a must-win game, this time in the Round of 16 at the World Cup in Korea/Japan. The United States, coached by Bruce Arena, prevailed 2-0 in Jeonju and reached the quarterfinals. It was the USMNT’s best showing at a World Cup since its semifinal appearance in 1930. Goals by Brian McBride and Landon Donovan proved decisive for the Americans.
2009 Confederations Cup (semifinals)
The Confederations Cup semifinals pitted the USMNT against #1 in the world Spain, who entered the match on a 35-game unbeaten streak. In a game no one expected the Americans to win, the USMNT earned a 2-0 victory against the defending European champions to reach the final. Jozy Altidfore and Clint Dempsey scored the goals in Bloemfontein as Tim Howard recorded the shootout. The USA would lose the championship game to Brazil in heartbreaking fashion, 3-2, after leading 2-0 at halftime.
2010 World Cup (first round)
Arguably the biggest game for the USMNT this decade, the Americans needed a win against Algeria to advance out of the group stage in South Africa. With the game scoreless in Pretoria, The Americans pulled off an incredible victory with Landon Donovan scoring on a last-gasp effort in stoppage time that sent US fans into raptures, win the group and put the team in the Round of 16.
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