WASHINGTON DC (November 15, 2007) USSoccerPlayers — The last time the USMNT played South Africa was over seven years ago at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC, in the opening game of the Nike US Cup competition that included Ireland and Mexico. The US won 4-0 on the back of two fine first half strikes from Cobi Jones, and one apiece from Claudio Reyna and Earnie Stewart.
Jones was the clear MVP in what was a stellar year for him on the National Team. He not only struck two superb goals from outside of the penalty area before the interval, but in the second half set up Reyna and Stewart with a cross and a pass respectively for the goals that sealed the win in front of a 16,570 crowd.
Jones, who retired from the game as a player last month, lead the team in appearances, goals and assists in 2000. He played in 16 out of the 17 games the US played that year (12 starts), scoring six goals and registering nine assists.
Interestingly, the second most prolific player in terms of caps that year was Chris Armas, with 14 games (all starts). Armas has also just retired, so 2000 was clearly the career peak time for these Major League Soccer ever-presents. Meanwhile, Jeff Agoos made his 100th appearance that day on his way to an eventual total of 134 caps.
The relatively short careers of players at international level is reflected by the number of men who’ve survived from that game to the rosters for this weekend’s exhibition at Ellis Park, Johannesburg (Saturday November 17, 9am ET, Fox Soccer Channel).
For the US, Eddie Lewis (now with 73 caps) was the only player on the field that day who’s on the roster for this weekend. That said, Kasey Keller (injured), and second half substitutes Steve Ralston (MLS Cup final) and Ben Olsen (who’s just undergone surgery on both ankles) would all have been candidates for this Saturday’s game. Possibly even Ante Razov (also out injured) given the lack of fire-power available for Bob Bradley now that Landon Donovan’s pulled out with a calf injury.
For South Africa, only the current squad veterans Delron Buckley, now with Borussia Dortmund, and Benedict McCarthy (Blackburn Rovers) were on the field that day for what was a woeful performance in front of several hundred noisy traveling fans. They went on to lose their remaining two games in the tournament, by 4-2 to Mexico and 2-1 to Ireland. But McCarthy did at least score two of the team’s consolation goals.
The US, meanwhile, took the tournament courtesy of a 1-1 draw with Ireland in Foxboro (Razov scoring the US comeback goal), and a 3-0 win over Mexico in Giants Stadium (Razov again, Brian McBride and Frankie Hejduk the scorers). The US lost only twice all year — to Russia in a friendly in Moscow in April (2-0), and on the road to Costa Rica in a contentious 2-1 World Cup qualifying defeat a month after the Nike Cup.
USMNT 4 – South Africa 0 (June 3, 2000, RFK Stadium, Washington DC)
USA — Kasey Keller, Tony Sanneh, Carlos Llamosa, Jeff Agoos, David Regis, Earnie Stewart (Steve Ralston 82), Chris Armas, Claudio Reyna (captain), Eddie Lewis (Ben Olsen 66), Brian McBride (Ante Razov 70), Cobi Jones (Jason Kreis 84).
South Africa — Andre Arendse, Cyril Nzama, Pierre Issa, Andrew Rabutla, David Kannemeyer (Jacob Lekgetho 73), Helman Mkhalele, Dumisi Ngobe, Thabo Mngomeni, Ivan McKinley (Delron Buckley 33), Benedict McCarthy (George Koumantarakis 73), Shaun Bartlett (captain).
USA — Jones (Armas) 36.
USA — Jones (Reyna) 43.
USA — Reyna (Jones) 65.
USA — Stewart (Jones) 68.
Shots: USA 13, South Africa 12.
Saves: USA 3, South Africa 1.
Yellow cards: USA — Stewart 77. South Africa — Rebula 14, Issa 77.
Referee: Jair Marrufo