In the wake of the United States soccer team's first-ever victory over Italy on February 29 (in Genoa, where the Italians had never lost), The Guardian's Sports Blog decided to compile the USA's Five Greatest Soccer Results. It's hard to quibble too much with the list (and really they take into account any alternative results, though it's hard to ignore the Algeria game in the 2010 World Cup that advanced them to the knockout stages) and I suspect that over time the win over Italy will recede, if slightly.
The list also brings a couple of thoughts to mind.
First: It's not exactly a rich history.
Second: Nonetheless, the trajectory is clear -- in the last twenty years or so, and especially in the last decade, the US has risen to become a legitimate second-or-third-tier presence in the Beautiful Game. And no, I don't intend that as a backhanded compliment. In a generation or so we have gone from being a backwater and punchline in the world's most popular game to being a team that can play with even elite teams without fear of being humiliated. Or at least without fear of being humiliated too badly.
Perhaps the biggest sign of the burgeoning respect our national team has earned? The Guardian blog post is not ironic, patronizing, or tongue-in-cheek and the comments are worth the read, which is truly rare in this day and age where bile is the default excretion online.