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

4 hours ago in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: Feb. 11

People gather next to tributes placed near a mural of British singer David Bowie by artist Jimmy C, in Brixton, south London, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016. Bowie, the other-worldly musician who broke pop and rock boundaries with his creative musicianship, nonconformity, striking visuals and a genre-spanning persona he christened Ziggy Stardust, died of cancer Sunday aged 69. He was born in Brixton. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

A look back on some of Hollywood's most memorable headlines.

16 hours ago in Viral Videos

Who’s your daddy?

16-overlay-10

When you're a baby and your dad is a twin, life can be confusing.

18 hours ago in Entertainment

Johnny Depp wigs out as Donald Trump in spoof biopic

16-overlay-11

The Hollywood actor dons a Trump-style hairpiece to lampoon the presidential hopeful in the 50-minute comedy for Funny or Die alongside a star-studded cast including Alfred Molina, Henry Winkle

18 hours ago in Entertainment

Another ‘Harry Potter’ book in the works

harrypotter

Fans will have the chance to read another installment in J.K. Rowling's wizard series when her new play is published as a book.

19 hours ago in Viral Videos

WATCH: Oh mother …

23-overlay-3

Is it the worst "Family Feud" answer ever? Judge for yourself.