#TBT: When the USMNT Overturned a 3-0 Deficit to Defeat Saudi Arabia 4-3 | Oct. 8, 1995

Coming back from 3-0 down to win a match is a soccer rarity, but that’s exactly what the U.S. Men’s National Team did in a friendly against Saudi Arabia on Oct. 8, 1995 in Washington, D.C.

Coming back from 3-0 down to win a match is a soccer rarity, but that’s exactly what the U.S. Men’s National Team did in a friendly against Saudi Arabia on Oct. 8, 1995 in Washington, D.C.

Earlier in the year, the team said goodbye to the experienced hand Bora Milutinovic – the head coach who led the USMNT to the Round of 16 at the 1994 FIFA World Cup – and was led forward on an interim basis by his assistant Steve Sampson. The caretaker coach guided the USMNT to an early milestone with a 4-0 rout against Mexico, leading to the 1995 Nike U.S. Cup championship that June. 


A month later came the 3-0 upset of Argentina that led to the side winning its group and finishing a surprising fourth at the prestigious Copa America. 

Sampson was extended the full-time job later that summer, and the team looked to put a bow on a successful year with a final friendly against The Green Falcons at RFK Stadium. Just as the USA had made history by advancing to the FIFA World Cup Round of 16 the summer before, so had the Saudis, who booked their ticket to the Knockout Round with a 1-0 upset of Belgium at the very same RFK Stadium where the year-end friendly took place.

HIGHLIGHTS: USMNT Overcomes Three-Goal Deficit to Down Saudi Arabia | Oct. 8, 1995


Perhaps inspired by the return to the baseball ground turned vaunted soccer venue, the attack-oriented Saudis turned the USA in circles, running out to what seemed an insurmountable 3-0 lead inside the first 29 minutes.

An uncommon first-half substitution followed, with Sampson inserting Roy Lassiter for Roy Wegerle up top in the 35th minute. The sub sparked a chaotic 30-minute interval in which the USA did the unthinkable. 


1 - 3

On his first touch, Lassiter was fouled on right side of the box, and Tab Ramos’ ensuing free kick led to the USA’s first goal on the comeback trail – a close range header from Alexi Lalas. 

2 - 3

On the other side of halftime, 22-year-old Claudio Reyna beat two defenders before finding Joe-Max Moore who one-timed home his effort at the near post in the 49th minute. 

3 - 3

Full of momentum, the USA pulled level with a quick passing sequence in the 62nd minute. Right back Mike Burns swung a ball to Moore at the top of the area who played Mike Sorber into space on the left. Sorber cut towards the end line before centering his pass for Lassiter. The substitute laid a square ball into space for Ramos who slammed home the equalizer from inside the penalty arc. Chef’s kiss. 

4 - 3

The high press that was employed throughout the second half again paid off as Ramos intercepted a pass in the final third and played a quick combination with Reyna to gain entry into the box. Catching the Saudis out in transition, Ramos deftly crossed for Lassiter, who headed home inside the six-yard box. 

After seven total goals in 66 minutes – and four from the USA in the span of 30 – the scoring was done. Both teams had more chances – the USA to go up further and Saudi Arabia to equalize – but the game ended 4-3.


It was just a friendly to cap a busy year, but nearly 25 years later it remains significant. In 712 total international matches played by the USMNT since 1916, it marks the only time the USMNT has come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a match.



- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -



Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Saudi Arabia

Date: October 8, 1995

Competition: International Friendly

Venue: RFK Stadium; Washington, D.C.

Attendance: 10,216


Scoring Summary:                       1             2             F

USA                                                1             3             4

CRC                                                3            0             3                                                                                                         

KSA – Sami Al-Jaber                                           9th minute

KSA – Fahad Al-Mehalel                                     11

KSA – Saaed Al Owairan                                     29

USA – Alexi Lalas (Tab Ramos)                            36

USA – Joe-Max Moore (Claudio Reyna)               49

USA – Tab Ramos (Roy Lassiter)                         62

USA – Roy Lassiter (Tab Ramos)                         66



: Brad Friedel (Jurgen Sommer 46'), Jeff Agoos, Mike Burns, Paul Caligiuri (capt.), Alexi Lalas, Joe-Max Moore, Tab Ramos (Frank Klopas 80'), Claudio Reyna, Mike Sorber, Steve Trittschuh, Roy Wegerle (Roy Lassiter 35')
Head Coach: Steve Sampson

KSA: Al-Hadad, Mohammed Al-Jahani, Mohammed Al-Khilaiwi, Ahmed Esca, Ahmed Madani, Khalid Al-Ternawi, Sami Al-Jaber, Saeed Al-Owairan (Fahad Al-Ghashayan 80'), Fahad Al-Mehalel, Al-Ruwished, Saleh Al-Dawod
Head Coach: Ze Mario


Referee: Paul Tamberino (USA)

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