Remembering USA vs. Iran at the 1998 FIFA World Cup™ | FIFA World Cup™ Today

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World Cup Today takes a look back at the historic 1998 FIFA World Cup™ matchup between the United States and Ian.

NARRATOR: 20 years later, it remains one of the most highly-charged showdowns in World Cup history. The United States and Iran met in Leone, France on June 21, 1998, just 17 years after Iranian fundamentalists held 52 American hostages for 444 days at the US embassy in Tehran.

A generation of Americans had seen images of their nation's flag burning in the streets of Iran on the nightly news. But now, before this momentous game, there was a gesture of peace. Instead of the usual pre-game separation of teams, the US and Iranian players posed together, arms around shoulders, a picture of progress.

Then for the US, the unthinkable happened. Once, twice, three times, the Americans hit the woodwork. It was as if the goal were cursed. Iran had no such misfortune. When Mehdi Mahdavikia scored on the counter to put the game away--

ANNOUNCER: It's surely Iran's victory now.

NARRATOR: The US wasn't just done for the night, it was out of the World Cup after two miserable games, a death rattle that saw the Americans riven with dissension before finishing last in the tournament. But the American agony was Iran's greatest World Cup moment, and to this day, it's only victory in the planet's premier sporting event.

Now against Morocco, Iran has the chance to win again. And there's even a link back to USA Iran in 1998. Iran's captain and goalkeeper that day was Ahmad Abedzadeh. His son, Amir, is now Iran's backup keeper. As fate would have it, Amir spent part of his teenage years in, of all places, Los Angeles. The connections between the United States and Iran in soccer, they still run deep.

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