By Clemente Lisi – NEW YORK, NY (Oct 8, 2015) US Soccer Players – The Rose Bowl is a storied venue. Typically used for college football, the stadium has also hosted some of the greatest futbol games in history. Known as “America’s Stadium,” the Rose Bowl is a national landmark.
The Rose Bowl remains the only venue to stage an Olympic gold medal soccer match, a World Cup final, and an MLS game. It is currently the 18th largest stadium on the planet and has featured some of the biggest games in USMNT history.
“It’s a huge game. It’s a game that’s never been played before. It’s a playoff for the Confederations Cup, US coach Jurgen Klinsmann told USSoccer.com. “They’ve named it the CONCACAF Cup, so they’ve given it a title and a trophy. Everything has been done to set the game up in a big way, in a big stage, and this is exciting because as a player you want to be in a final that is played in front of 90,000 people and that gives you a trophy and takes you to a very important goal. It’s pretty difficult to make it any bigger than that. The players should just enjoy it and be ready and well prepared and give everything they have.”
The USMNT is no stranger to the pressure of a Rose Bowl game. Throughout much of the 1990s, the USMNT played a number of important matches at the stadium. Earlier this week, we looked at the must win games the US was able to overcome. With the CONCACAF Cup game between the USA and Mexico just days away, here is a look at five times the USMNT won at the Rose Bowl.
1991: USA 3 – Guatemala 0 (Gold Cup, first round)
The inaugural Gold Cup was a shift in power. Mexico, long the strongest CONCACAF team, didn’t win the title. Before the Americans would lift the trophy, they defeated Guatemala 3-0 during a first-round match at the Rose Bowl.
1994: USA 1 – Mexico 0 (friendly)
With the 1994 World Cup a little more than a week away, the United States played Mexico in a pre-tournament friendly on June 4 before 91,123 mostly-Mexican fans in what turned out to be a road game for the Americans. Despite the loud crowd against it, the United States, coached by former El Tri coach Bora Milutinovic, won on a goal by Roy Wegerle. Eric Wynalda dribbled past the Mexican defense before feeding the ball to Wegerle.
1994: USA 2 – Colombia 1 (World Cup, first round)
It ranks as one of the biggest upsets at a World Cup and one of the most unlikely victories in USMNT history. After a 1-1 draw against Switzerland in its World Cup opener, the United States faced Colombia, a pre-tournament favorite to win the trophy, before 93,194 fans on June 22 under a sunny Pasadena sky. Simply put, the Americans pulled off a minor miracle. Colombia, after all, was one of the best teams in the world at the time and featured players like Carlos Valderrama and Faustino Asprilla. The USA took the lead after Andres Escobar redirected a John Harkes cross into his own net. The second came when Earnie Stewart beat Oscar Cordoba with a powerful shot. The USA reached the Round of 16, losing 1-0 to eventual-champion Brazil 1-0.
2002: USA 4 – El Salvador 0 (Gold Cup, quarterfinals)
Before nearly 32,000 fans on January 27, the US advanced to the semifinals of the Gold Cup. Brian McBride scored a hat trick to down El Salvador 4-0. It took McBride just 21 minutes to score his three goals, while Ante Razov added a fourth in the second-half.
2002: USA 2 – Costa Rica 0 (Gold Cup, final)
The USMNT’s 2-0 win against Costa Rica not only gave the Americans its first Gold Cup championship since 1991, it showed the dramatic improvement the team had made under coach Bruce Arena. January camp that year produced two future USMNT stars in Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley. They would help the USMNT reach the quarterfinals of the World Cup later that year and become staples in the starting lineup for years to come. Beasley may get a chance to play again Saturday given that Klinsmann has called him for the Mexico match.
More from Clemente Lisi: