This is an article from the June 9, 2014 issue
FOR JUNE 9, 2014
Sports Illustrated Longform Since 1954.
The Shot That Started It All
At the dawn of the 2014 World Cup, SI Longform completes its series that counted down the 10 Most Significant Goals in U.S. soccer history. The defining moment? Paul Caligiuri's wonder goal in the 1--0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago in a World Cup qualifier on Nov. 19, 1989. The win clinched a World Cup berth for the U.S., its first since 1950. Writes SPORTS ILLUSTRATED senior writer Grant Wahl, "Twenty-five years later Caligiuri still remembers the portents that in his mind foretold history. 'I just felt this energy that we were on a mission,' he says, 'and we were going to change American soccer forever.' " Go to SI.com/longform to read Wahl's story and to see the chronicle of the U.S.'s most beautiful moments.
2014 World Cup Players to Watch
For the complete list go to SI.com/soccer
• Mario Balotelli, Italy
The A.C. Milan striker was crucial to his country's qualifying, scoring five goals.
• Didier Drogba, Ivory Coast
The team's captain and alltime leading scorer has 64 international goals.
• Xavi, Spain
A ferocious midfielder for Barcelona, Xavi helped Spain win the 2010 Cup title.
A Net Gain For the U.S.
From the SI Vault July 4, 1994
Goalkeeper Tony Meola and the host team's unexpected World Cup success twenty years ago—highlighted by defender Marcelo Balboa's blind, backward-somersaulting, ridiculously improbable shot late in a 2--1 defeat of Colombia, a move Pelé called "the most beautiful moment of the World Cup"—boosted the world's most popular sport in America.
By Alexander Wolff
SI DIGITAL BONUS
Get the latest scores, sports news and insights from SI writers on SI.com's newly redesigned mobile site. Type SI.com into your mobile browser.
Check out SPORTS ILLUSTRATED soccer writers Grant Wahl and Brian Straus for complete World Cup coverage from Brazil, including game previews, predictions, analysis and all the latest buzz. Go to SI.com/video
Instagram OF THE WEEK
Follow @SI_soccer on Instagram for the most captivating images in the sport, including this shot from the U.S. team's 2--1 win against Turkey in a World Cup tune-up on Sunday in Harrison, N.J.