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U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra, right, keeps a close watch on Italian forward Alberto Gilardino at the 2006 World Cup. ((MICHAEL URBAN/AFP/Getty Images))

In an ongoing series, CBCSports.ca asks players, managers, broadcasters, journalists and fans to recall their favourite World Cup memories.

Next up: Carlos Bocanegra.

As a tough-tackling defender for the United States, Bocanegra has been a mainstay with the American national team, earning more than 70 caps since making his debut in 2001.

Bocanegra has played in a number of international competitions for his country, but the highlight of his national team career came four years ago at the World Cup in Germany when the U.S. battled Italy to a 1-1 draw in the first round.

"I was lucky enough to play at the 2006 World Cup and the feeling I had after we [drew] against Italy was maybe one of the most incredible feelings and sense of pride I've had in myself and my country," Bocanegra told CBCSports.ca.

"It's hard to put into words. It felt unbelievable. All the players left everything out on the field. It was a fantastic crowd [in Kaiserslautern] and against the eventual World Cup winners we held on. It was nuts."

The United States could take some pride in the fact that they held Italy to a stalemate — the Azzurri won the rest of their games in Germany en route to claiming their fourth World Cup title.

It looked as though it would be a cakewalk for the Italians, who opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when Alberto Gilardino beat American goalkeeper Kasey Keller.

But Lady Lucky shone on the Americans when they equalized five minutes later as Italian defender Cristian Zaccardo knocked the ball into his own net.

The game quickly turned nasty when Italy's Daniel De Rossi elbowed Brian McBride in the face, bloodying the American forward. The Italians were reduced to 10 men, and the Americans swarmed, but couldn't make use of their numerical advantage.

The U.S. then lost their heads. Pablo Mastroeni (in the 45th minute) and Eddie Pope (early in the second half) received their marching orders, as the Americans were down to nine men.

Italy pressed forward but couldn't breach the U.S. goal, as the Americans held on for a hard-fought and deserved draw against the Azzurri.