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November 19, 2016
Paul Caligiuri: there are many more historic goals that are over the horizon for U.S. soccer

Paul Caligiuri sitting in the U.S. locker room after the Americans defeated Trinidad & Tobago in 1989.
Paul Caligiuri sitting in the U.S. locker room after the Americans defeated Trinidad & Tobago in 1989.
Photo by Michael Lewis
Note: This story was originally posted in 2015

By Michael Lewis Editor

Paul Caligiuri certainly is comfortable with his place in American soccer history, though he says he is not through with his contributions to the beautiful game.

His goal propelled the United States to a 1-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago and into its first World Cup in 40 years some 26 years ago today on Nov. 19, 1989.

The U.S. soccer landscape has been transformed dramatically since then, with a professional first division league, Major League Soccer, which is celebrating its 20th season this year, a U.S. men's national side that gunning to qualify for its eighth consecutive World Cup and a women's national team that won its third Women's World Cup crown, among other changes.

Caligiuri, 51, felt there are more historic goals over the soccer horizon that will boost U.S. soccer into yet another orbit.

"I don't think it's a record," he said in a recent interview. "It's a position that's subjective of what moment or what goal is the most important. It seems to be pointed in my direction and I think the moment will change and I believe it will someday.

"Maybe it has to be the winning goal. Not sure if it's going to be a 1-0 game or a 2-0 game. It could be a penalty kick like Brandi Chastain did that changed women's soccer forever. I think that exists out there. The efforts of U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer and into the college ranks, all the coaches, people that are involved in soccer at the club level all plays an important role. We need more programming and more integrated programs to find those players out there that perhaps do not know that an opportunity exists."

And that includes even in his own backyards. Yes, players are still falling through the cracks even some 15 years into the 21st century. He recently did some research about Los Angeles to make his point.

"Obviously it's a huge county with a high Hispanic community," he said. "Spanish youth players playing in youth soccer quadrupled the entire state registered under U.S. Youth Soccer's entire umbrella. So, and that's just going to the markets, looking up the league. They have these newspapers and pockets of Hispanic leagues.

"They're not integrated. Even if they are integrated, the kids that I coach they don't know about certain opportunities and programs and identification [camps], ODP and things like that. You can't expect these players who are not even aware of i, not even under the umbrella to even remotely know about it.

"You can take that across the nation."

As for Caligiuri's kids, he is technical director, club operations of the California Football Academy that involves 1,200 children in Orange County. One of his valued programs is called Signature.

Caligiuri said that Signature build "a pathway from recreational soccer into a more competitive environment that we have here in California ... and goes all the way to the club level."

So he is far from finished from the sport.

"I feel like I still want more contributions to the game," he said. "It's a beautiful game. I'm comfortable in terms of my career.

"If I was only 18, wow. Look at the pathway we've given a lot of these players and look how this sport has grown. Try to think about and where it's growing. There are so many soccer minds in this country that its really pushing the envelope and we're not satisfied where we're at. We realize there's a ton of more growth to go and personally I want to be involved in those contributions."

Caligiuri added that he was working on "a couple of special projects that I hope will give those contributions to true my passion ... to find the seek the player who is going to score the winning goal in the World Cup. So you could be calling that guy and say, 'What's it like to score the most important goal in U.S. soccer history?' "
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