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.