News

U.S. hopes to channel ’02 World Cup in Sunday’s game

U.S. hopes to channel ’02 World Cup in Sunday’s game

WORLD CUP: John Brooks of the U.S. celebrates his goal against Ghana with teammate Fabian Johnson (L) during their 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match at the Dunas arena in Natal June 16. Photo: Reuters/Stefano Rellandini

By David Ljunggren

MANAUS Brazil (Reuters) – The United States play Portugal in the World Cup on Sunday, hoping to channel the inspiration and drive which brought them a shock victory the last time the teams met in the tournament.

Few gave the Americans much chance when they ran out into the heat and humidity in Suwon, South Korea, for their first game of the 2002 World Cup finals on June 5.

The U.S. team had come last in 1998, losing all three games and scoring one goal. Portugal, who reached the semi-finals of the European Championship in 2000, boasted famous attacking talents such as Luis Figo, Rui Costa and Pauleta.

Few realized U.S. coach Bruce Arena had put together a deceptively good team, anchored by goalkeeper Brad Friedel and featuring intelligent speedy forwards Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley as well as the solid Brian McBride.

PHOTOS: Americans are crazy for soccer U.S. versus Ghana | EXTRA: Everyone is tweeting about the World Cup

The surprises started early. With four minutes gone Portuguese goalkeeper Vitor Baia could only parry a McBride header from a corner and midfielder John O’Brien rifled home from close in.

The Americans, gaining in confidence, started to harry their older opponents and scored again in the 29th minute when Donovan took advantage of slack Portuguese play to win the ball on the right. He fired in a cross that hit defender Jorge Costa and looped into the net past a stranded Baia.

The best was yet to come: seven minutes later right back Anthony Sanneh bolted down the right wing and sent in a glorious cross that McBride headed into the net at full stretch as two defenders stood and watched.

Portugal pulled a goal back through Beto in the 39th minute and another in the 71st when U.S. center back Jeff Agoos inadvertently volleyed the ball past Friedel.

The result was one of the most memorable in the history of U.S. soccer.

TEAM U.S.A.: Americans show the world they love soccer

“The important thing was to come out quick. They’re a very good team and we needed to make sure to put them on their heels, and that’s what we did,” said man of the match McBride.

Buoyed by the upset, the Americans went on to record their best ever performance in a World Cup.

They drew with South Korea and lost to Poland in the group stage to set up a tough second round game with Mexico, who they beat impressively 2-0 with goals from McBride and Donovan.

The Americans met Germany in the quarter-finals and lost 1-0 despite dominating large stretches of the game.

Four years later the team returned to their underperforming ways and ended up bottom of their group with just one point. In 2010 the team made it out of the group stage but lost in the second round to Ghana.

At this World Cup, the Americans started off with another shock, beating Ghana 2-1 on Monday in Group G.

(Editing by Rex Gowar)

Recent Headlines

16 hours ago in Local

UIS Breaks Ground on Student Union

5-4-16 UIS Groundbreaking

Ground has been broken on what is being referred to as the "Living Room" for the students of the University of Illinois Springfield.

16 hours ago in Local

Aeropostale to Close Springfield, Forsyth Stores

aeropostale

Aeropostale files for Chapter 11.

16 hours ago in Local

Social Service Groups Sue Governor for $100M Past Due

Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate businessman Bruce Rauner participates in a Republican gubernatorial candidate debate Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Springfield, Ill. The four Republican gubernatorial candidates said that they’ll be willing to work with unions if elected but differed on how to approach the relationship during a downstate debate that largely focused on pension reform, taxes and just briefly on personal issues that have dogged some of the candidates.

Five dozen social service agencies working without pay for nearly a year because of the Illinois state budget stalemate are suing Gov. Bruce Rauner.

16 hours ago in Local

Trial Set for 2 of 6 Men Accused of Dismembering Woman’s Body

Champaign Police Murder Arrests WAND

Two of the six men charged with dismembering a missing Champaign woman will be held for trial after a judge heard testimony from a detective.

17 hours ago in Local

Death Knell for Graduated Income Tax

tax

Sponsors blame Rauner