Retracing the USMNT’s 2002 World Cup Qualifying Run

Retracing the USMNT’s 2002 World Cup Qualifying Run

The People became the sixth Concacaf staff given that 1950 to roll off 3 successive wins to open the ultimate spherical.

The Usa experienced a thirty day period and fifty percent off ahead of taking part in twice inside of a 5-working day period of time. Nevertheless, two catalysts of the early wins, Mathis (torn ACL) and Wolff (fractured left foot), were being sidelined for the rest of qualifying marketing campaign.

If they could earn 2 times, the People would have 15 points, deemed to be the magic qualifying amount. That would have been accomplished only midway through their 10-sport schedule.

“There is a excitement,” midfielder Chris Armas explained. “You hear distinctive men stating, ‘Can we clinch with the following two wins?’ Anyone is imagining it and feeling it but it’s not going to get any easier.”

Getting into the June 16 encounter, Jamaica was driving a amazing 50-sport unbeaten streak at its Countrywide Stadium in Kingston, dubbed “The Workplace.” The previous foe to arise victorious? The U.S., at the rear of a 3- get on Nov. 22, 1994.

Stadium gates opened at 6 a.m. with some of the country’s favourite Reggae stars entertaining the admirers right up until kickoff. Most of the group of 32,000 was a sea of yellow, wearing nationwide colors, with a potent aroma of marijuana punctuating the air.

The United states of america could not break the streak, rising with a scoreless attract and a street position as temperatures soared toward 100 degrees on a rock-yard floor, which did not make for pretty soccer.

“It is really a excellent outcome simply because we’re taking absent two factors from Jamaica at home,” Reyna mentioned. “We are sitting genuinely great correct now.”

The Individuals continued their unbeaten streak on June 20, with a 2- get around Trinidad & Tobago in Foxborough. Razov scored only 74 seconds immediately after kickoff, the swiftest U.S. qualifying aim in at the very least a dozen decades. Stewart included an insurance tally in the 20th minute, turning out to be the U.S.’s all-time scoring leader (7 objectives), snapping a tie with Nationwide Soccer Corridor of Famer Willy Roy.


“Great,” Stewart explained at the time. “13 details out of 15 – are not able to get considerably greater than that. This is a terrific start out.”

With 5 video games remaining in the Hex, the USMNT (4–1 13 points) appreciated a commanding guide and were being on the verge of qualifying. But the squad started a downward slide by way of a 1- loss at Mexico, with a new coach, Javier Aguirre, in charge, at Estadio Azteca on July 1.

The United states of america wasn’t aided when John O’Brien’s club, Ajax, refused to release the midfielder, citing that he essential to train for its UEFA Cup qualifying match. This was prior to FIFA environment WCQ playing dates.

“It truly is a classless thing to do,” Arena claimed at the time.

A botched offside entice allowed Jared Borgetti to rating off a 12-yard header in the 16th moment previous Keller.

“We have been the most risky Mexican participant,” defender Jeff Agoos stated of the defeat. “I you should not assume we deserved to gain. We were being our very own worst enemy.”

The Honduras match at RFK Stadium on Sept. 1 was to start at the unappealing hour of 10 a.m. An early kickoff may well sound like gamesmanship to attempt to get the higher hand, but with ESPN acquiring the Tv set agreement, it was the only time the sport could be televised on the very first university soccer Saturday of the season.

When Pope walked out for the pregame warm-up, he expected to listen to the 54,032 fans cheering. Instead, Honduran followers dominated the location. 


“That is a perfect example of you accidentally putting it in the incorrect location,” he mentioned. “Your intentions are to tactically make it a household group, and it is the opposite. We see all these white and blue shirts. That experienced an influence. You might be on the lookout for your fans. The stadium now is louder for the other workforce, and you stop up enjoying an away recreation at property.

“You’ve got currently skilled becoming away and taking the abuse from the other team’s enthusiasts. Now you are at household. You glance up and you might be searching for your supporters. It can be deflating.”

Nineteen-yr-previous Landon Donovan created his Environment Cup Qualifying debut that working day. “My introduction was like, oh [crap], this is actual stuff,” he claimed. “It just was diverse than nearly anything I’ve at any time seen in my daily life. It was a mad working experience.”

At periods the People played as even though they ended up snooze strolling on defense in a devastating 3-2 reduction. Stewart uncovered the net in the seventh and 84th minutes, but it was the aim that he failed to score that haunted the hosts. His PK was saved in the 43rd minute by Noel Valladares, switching the momentum.

“It truly is not so considerably missing a penalty kick,” Stewart stated at the time. “It’s when you seem at your teammates and see that you’ve permit them down.”

Alternatively of savoring a 2-1 halftime lead, the U.S. noticed its fortunes sink when Carlos Pavon converted a 53rd-moment penalty. Milton Nunez also tallied for Honduras (27th and 77th minutes).

“The most agonizing factor is basically we started off off properly,” Stewart explained. “We did not score, had the opportunity to go up and then I skipped the PK. All those really weigh on your intellect. Then they begun to engage in really very well.”

It was the U.S.’s next consecutive qualifying decline, the initial time that occurred because 1980. The Us residents also observed their 19-activity property qualifying unbeaten streak broken, losing for the 1st time due to the fact Might 1985. They allowed 3 ambitions in a residence qualifier for the to start with time considering the fact that 1960.

4 days later in Costa Rica, the U.S. deployed a revamped lineup that performed like it wanted to get out of Saprissa with a scoreless draw in what turned into a 2- decline. Ronaldo Fonseca had a brace (40th and 68th minutes).


When the USMNT walked on to the Foxboro Stadium field in on Oct. 7, the gamers realized they have been shouldering a huge accountability.

Beyond the reality they necessary to crack a 3-video game getting rid of streak and bolster their possibilities of qualifying – a loss would have eliminated them from competition –  the Americans realized they have been enjoying for their place as perfectly.

The nation was even now grieving after the horrific terrorist assaults on the Globe Trade Center, the Pentagon and a plane that crashed in Shanksville, Pa., which still left virtually 3,000 dead and an estimated 25,000 injured on Sept. 11.

Genie Mathena

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