Caligiuri: Individual honor in a team game
The man who scored "The Goal Heard 'Round the World" is now a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. Paul Caligiuri, an MLS original, joined another in Eric Wynalda as one of the first two players from the league elected to the Hall.
Caligiuri scored one of the most important goals in U.S. soccer history to give the USA a 1-0 win in Trinidad & Tobago, catapulting the Red, White, and Blue into the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy, the first World Cup qualification in 40 years.
At Wednesday's press conference announcing the Soccer Hall of Fame Class of 2004, Caligiuri deferred his honors to his teammates and said his contribution to soccer is "far from over."
"Soccer is a team sport," he said. "There is not one accolade you can accomplish without the support of your peers."
The achievements Caligiuri has made have provided a benchmark and a stepping stone for future American soccer players. In addition to scoring the goal that led to the USA's return to the World Cup after a 40-year absence, Caligiuri was also one of the first players to play professionally in Europe when he plied his trade for several years in the German Bundesliga.
One of the most capped players in American history with 110 appearances, Caligiuri played in all three of the U.S. team's matches in Italy and added four more World Cup appearances four years later in 1994. His international career included at least one cap in 14 consecutive years, the longest streak of its kind in U.S. soccer history.
After several seasons playing in the Bundesliga, Caligiuri blazed a trail back home, returning to the United States in 1996 to join Major League Soccer and the Columbus Crew in the inaugural season of the American top flight. The following year he moved to the Los Angeles Galaxy, where he would spend the next five seasons.
Though he is retired, Caligiuri's commitment to soccer continues as the head coach of the men's and women's programs at Cal Poly-Pomona. He expressed his determination to give his all for those programs and for U.S. soccer in general.
"I enjoy gaining valuable coaching experience in building a program there, in hopes of making it a strong Division II contender for years to come," he said.