Three for Thursday: Just how special was Jozy Altidore's hat trick against Bosnia?
Jozy Altidore's hat trick was a rare occurrence in and of itself. His three-goal haul in the US national team's 4-3 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina on Wednesday was just the 16th time in history a player has scored three or more goals for the USMNT.
That's not all, though. A quick dig into the history books will tell you even more about just how rare the achievement we saw in Sarajevo was. Here are three surprising facts about Jozy's historic hat trick:
1. He is just the fourth US player to score a hat trick on foreign soil
And the first to do it in 45 years. The last time it happened, Peter Millar scored three goals at Haiti in 1968, in preparation for 1970 World Cup qualifying. Unfortunately, he couldn't get it done when it counted the next time against Haiti, who knocked them out of the qualifying tournament six months later.
Before that, you'll have to go back to the 1930s, to perhaps the first-ever competitive match between the US and Mexico. Aldo "Buff" Donelli scored all four goals in a World Cup qualifier against Mexico played in Rome that secured the US passage to the 1934 World Cup.
Last, and perhaps most importantly of all, one of the original American soccer stars, Bert Patenaude, got the second-ever hat trick in USMNT history when he scored all three goals in the 3-0 win over Paraguay to secure the US' best-ever World Cup finish, a semifinal appearance in 1930.
2. 2013 is the third year in which the USMNT has had two hat tricks
The first came in 1968, thanks to the aforementioned Millar. Two weeks after he netted three against Haiti, the Scottish-American forward put another three past Bermuda at home in World Cup qualifier.
Fast forward to 2009, and Altidore hit the first international hat trick in his budding career in a World Cup qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago, barely two months after Sacha Kljestan did it in a friendly against Sweden.
Now, in 2013, Chris Wondolowski put three past Belize in the Gold Cup opener before Altidore finished writing the history a month later.
3. Jozy is just the third player in history to record multiple hat tricks for the US
From the above two entries you should be able to deduce that Millar is one of the players breathing this rarefied air, with Altidore just now joining him. The third? Landon Donovan.
Of course, Altidore still has one more hurdle to clear before he can catch Donovan in this particular category. The USA's all-time scoring leader is all by himself up there, boasting three games in which he's scored three or more goals for the US. The first instance came in a four-goal outing in the Gold Cup against Cuba in 2003, followed by hat tricks against Ecuador in 2007 and Scotland in 2012, both in friendlies.
Still, it's impressive to consider that Altidore, at just 23 years of age, has reached this kind of impressive record that star US forwards past and present – Eric Wynalda, Brian McBride, Clint Dempsey – have not been able to match. And with so much of his career ahead of him, one can't help but wonder where else we might see him in the record books.