About eight months before Caligiuri catapulted the U.S. into its first FIFA World Cup in 40 years, 26-year-old goalkeeper David “Dino” Vanole made the most important save of his international career when he stopped a lethal penalty kick strike against Costa Rica’s Mauricio Montero.
Vanole was an energetic, aggressive and flamboyant personality both on and off the field. Former UCLA head coach Sigi Schmid coined him “Dino” in reference to Italy goalkeeper Dino Zoff, who displayed a similar fierceness.
Heading into the second leg of a pair of World Cup qualifying matches against Costa Rica on April 30, 1989, anything less than a win would have put the U.S. in a serious hole among the CONCACAF field, but Tab Ramos did his part in supplying a 1-0 lead in the 72nd minute. With Vanole and the U.S. defense clinging to the one-goal lead in the waning minutes, Costa Rica’s Alvaro Solano had an open net and U.S. defender Steve Trittschuh had to stop the ball with his hands at the goal line to sacrifice a penalty kick.
That set the stage for Vanole against Costa Rica’s brawny defender Montero.
Before the kick, Vanole stared Montero down, attempting to get into the Ticos’ head. Rather than commit to diving in one direction, Vanole held his ground and Montero’s shot went straight at Vanole’s neck “at about 100 mph,” Vanole recalled. Although Costa Rica had a rebound opportunity, it sailed over the goal and the U.S. held on through a nervy handful of extra time minutes for a win that set the team on its way to a successful World Cup qualifying run that culminated with Caliguir’s ‘shot heard ‘round the world.’