Top five USMNT moments of 2012 

December, 28, 2012

Every year has its share of ups and downs, but few would have predicted just how roller coaster-like 2012 would be for the Yanks.

Some of the highest highs in the national team's 99-year history -- seminal first wins against Italy and in Mexico; equaling the program's best winning percentage in the modern era -- were offset by crushing lows like the World Cup qualifying loss in Jamaica (the Americans' first against the Reggae Boyz) and the much-ballyhooed under-23 squad's spectacular failure to qualify for the Summer Olympics.

But in the spirit of optimism that each new year brings, it's time to forget about those disappointments and highlight the highs. There were plenty of great moments to choose from in 2012.

Here are our top five USMNT moments of the year.

5. Beating Mexico's Olympic squad

Neither team was at full strength for this February friendly near Dallas, but Mexico, on a run of unprecedented success at the youth level, still entered the match as the clear favorite. When the game started, though, it was the young Yanks who dominated in an easy 2-0 win over the eventual Olympic champion.

Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.