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1998 gold cup: usa-costa rica

OK, here's something I can post over here. On February 7, 1998, we attended a Gold Cup match between the U.S. and Costa Rica. Some of the basic facts will bring back some memories.

It was played at the Oakland Coliseum before 36, 240. Both teams had won their first group matches, so the winner of this one would advance to the semi-finals while the loser would be done. (I forget what would have happened if it was a draw.) The lineups:

USA: Brad Friedel, Jeff Agoos, Marcelo Balboa (Preki 69), Alexi Lalas, Eddie Pope (Mike Burns 46), Frankie Hejduk, John Harkes, Cobi Jones, Joe-Max Moore, Eric Wynalda, Roy Wegerle (Brian McBride 63). Coach: Steve Sampson.

Costa Rica: Erick Lonnis, Luis Marín, Austin Berry, Hárold Wallace (Bernard Mullins 82), Mauricio Wright, Luis Arnáez, Wilmer López, Joaquin Guillén, Roy Meyers (Floyd Guthrie 71), Allan Oviedo (Jervis Drummond 65), Paulo Wanchope. Coach: Rolando Villalobos.

Referee: Mohammed Nazri Abdullah (Malaysia).

Eddie Pope scored in the 7th minute. The U.S. took the lead into halftime, but then Oviedo equalized in the 56th minute. Preki entered the match in the 69th minute ... he scored the winner in the 78th minute:


(You'll notice the constant din of the vuvuzelas ... this was a double-header with Mexico in the second match, and they came prepared.)

I never really understood how Preki scored all of those goals. The goal above was copied hundreds of times over the years ... he seemed pretty predictable ... but teams never caught on, I guess, and it was fun to watch him score.

Preki was, and is, an interesting guy. Born Predrag Radosavljević, he was a Serbian who in his early 20s began playing indoor soccer in the U.S., where he became a legend, scoring 389 goals in 370 matches. He played 86 games in England (Everton and Portsmouth), scoring 9 goals. He was one of the original MLS players in 1996, and was MLS MVP twice as well as the top goal scorer twice. He became a U.S. citizen in 1996, by which time he was already in his 30s. He played 28 times for the USA, scoring 4 goals, and appeared in two World Cup matches in 1998. After his playing career, he began coaching, with Chivas USA and Toronto in MLS, and then with Sacramento Republic FC. And as I type this, he is rumored to be in line to manager a team in the English Premier League.

Preki is best known in the U.S. for his goal in the semi-finals of the '98 Gold Cup, which gave the U.S. a 1-0 win over Brazil. The match is famous for the performance of Kasey Keller in goal, and I remember that quite well, but I also remember shouting and screaming when Preki scored in that match.

A few of those U.S. players are working as announcers for this year's Gold Cup. Friedel is the color commentator for the English-language broadcast, while Balboa is working the Spanish-language side. (I tweeted last night that Balboa-in-Spanish seems like a better analyst than Balboa-in-English.) Also, Eric Wynalda is working in the studio.

we'll meet again

If I take the title of this blog literally, I'll disappear for three years.

I kinda like having a place to post soccer stuff. I worry, though, that such a move ghettoizes the topic.

The Earthquakes and MLS are in mid-season, and the Gold Cup starts tomorrow. I won't lack for soccer to watch. So for now, I'll leave the future of the blog open-ended.

Meanwhile, there's this:

Listen To All Five U.S. Goals As Called By Telemundo's Andrés Cantor


It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitive as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look -- I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring -- caring deeply and passionately, really caring -- which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete -- the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball -- seems a small price to pay for such a gift.

-- Roger Angell


Allison McCann at FiveThirtyEight: "The U.S. Is Twice As Likely To Win The World Cup As Japan"

It's interesting that McCann wants us to know that, even though the title of the piece reflects what she shows us, "Things are more even than they seem". If I were a betting man, I'd take Japan, since they are underdogs, probably too much so, and thus are the better bet. The over/under looks to be 2.5, which is a tough call ... under would be 0-0, 1-0, 1-1, and 2-0. All of those seem possible, but so does 2-1.

I have a rooting interest, so I won't care about any of this. I just want the U.S. to win. I don't know enough about the players to make definitive statements. I know Carli Lloyd is important, but I'm not sure why. The switch in formation seems more important to me than any individual player ... Wambach as a late sub is a good idea, and her absence opens up space for various attacking players, which I guess is where Lloyd fits in. I want Alex Morgan to do well mainly because #GoBears. I have complicated thoughts about Hope Solo, but not about her play ... she instills confidence.

So ... USA 2-1 Japan in 120 minutes.

Meanwhile, soccer goes on. Chile won Copa América, and Argentine fans are trashing Messi, who is only the best player on the planet. Next week, the CONCACAF Gold Cup begins. Whether I continue to post regularly on this blog is up in the air. I don't feel like I've got much to say, and the viewer totals are as miniscule as could be ... since an early "high" of 30 views on June 7, there haven't been more than 11 views in any single day, and twice there was only one view.


Matt Yoder at Awful Announcing:


The #1 team for Fox has been J.P. Dellacamera on play-by-play, with Tony DiCicco and Cat Whitehill on color commentary. They make a solid team. J.P. has always been one of the best U.S. soccer play-by-play guys, and as the article notes, he's been around forever. DiCicco can get on my nerves, but his insights are often good, as are Whitehill's, and I like it when Cat says something and, instead of arguing for the sake of arguing, Tony will just say, "I agree with Cat".

The #2 team is Jenn Hildreth and Kyndra de St. Aubin. The most obvious thing about this team is that they are both women ... this is still unusual. They are both solid and seem to have good rapport.

I haven't listened to enough of the Spanish-language guys, but Andres Cantor and Sammy Sadovnik are always good, and Carlos Hermosillo gave me a few laughs when I heard him doing color.

And I don't usually watch pre-and-post-game shows.

I guess the most remarkable thing about the offerings is that there is nothing remarkable. We've reached a point in the U.S. when a major soccer tournament gets the kind of professional treatment it deserves, and we barely notice, because we're getting used to it.

own goal

I can imagine many futures where Laura Bassett's name will be reviled. Thankfully, none of those futures appears to be happening. Bassett, a 31-year-old veteran of the game who had a strong World Cup, committed one of those wrong place, wrong time own-goals. Own-goals happen all the time. You pound the grass (er, turf) and move on. But this one was #1 on the Wrong Time Scale.

The outpouring of support for Bassett on Twitter and elsewhere was moving. Bassett has nothing to be ashamed of. Neither does the England team. They went farther than expected. For one day, set aside thoughts about the USA-Japan final, and think positive thoughts about England and Laura Bassett.


Well, I cited Billy Haisley when he was bitching, might as well cite him when he decides things are better now.

"How the USWNT Finally Figured It Out"

America’s pressing was a thing of beauty. There was hardly a single pass our ladies didn’t harry, with nary one German allowed time and space to think about what she wanted to do with the ball before an American rolled up and gently persuaded her to aid the American cause. You can’t do that with old-ass Abby lumbering around. Both USWNT goals, from the (terrible, in no way should it have been a) penalty to Kelley O’Hara’s coup de grâce, originated from dispossessions of the ball in the midfield. It would be an exaggeration to say pressing solved all our problems, but it did mask our biggest one and in doing so, made us immeasurably more dangerous.