World Cups Past - The 1990's

Published: May 14, 2014 12:28pm EDT
By Jason Bardwell, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated May 14, 2014 @ 12:28pm EDT


The final countdown to the World Cup has now begun and we are little over a month away now from the kick off in Brazil on June 12th. The USA will take the field against Ghana four days later at the Arena das Dunas, Natal. Drawn in a group which also include Portugal and Germany it is vital Klinsmann’s team hit the ground running. 

Over the next few days I will look at the United States participation in all the World Cups throughout the history of the competition dating back to the 1930's. Obviously there was no World Cup’s in the 1940's with the ones scheduled for 1942 and 1946 cancelled due to the Second World War. 

Last week, I looked at the World Cups through the 1960's and 1970's which didn’t involve the US side. England did host, and win, the 1966 World Cup and this week I will wrap up the look back. Yesterday I looked at the 1980's in Spain and Mexico which were both again devoid of any US participation. 

Tomorrow I will focus on the World Cups of the 2000's including Japan and Korea in 2002, Germany in 2006 and, of course, the most recent South African tournament in 2010.



This is the first World Cup I actually remember being excited about, talking with friends about, and making sure I was home to watch games. It was also the first time I actually had the Panini sticker book and maybe that was the reason for the memories and excitement at the early age.
This World Cup also saw the participation of the United States National team for the first time for forty years and, I must admit, due to my frequent trips to the numerous US Air bases located in my part of England, they were my adopted team.

An initial 5-1 defeat to Czechoslovakia was followed by a respectable 1-0 defeat against hosts Italy and a 2-1 defeat to Austria, leaving the boys with zero points. Paul Caligiuri and Bruce Murray scored the goals for the US but it is fair to say the stars of this World Cup were the tears of Paul Gascoigne, the eyes of Italian Schillachi and of course the dance of Roger Milla for Cameroon.

Whereas the USA struggled in this World Cup, it was one of the best for England. Having not had a great record since the 1966 win and with the ‘Hand Of God’ goal from four years earlier the Three Lions made it to the Semi Finals. It started off slow though with a 1-1 draw against the Republic of Ireland in the opening game. That was followed by a 0-0 result against the Netherlands leaving every team level on every stat going into the final game. 

Egypt were last up, and dispatched 1-0 to see England qualify top of Group F. Gary Lineker (Tottenham) and Mark Wright (Derby County) provided the goals during that stage and set up a round of 16 meeting with Belguim. If you get the chance then look for the David Platt goal scored in extra time in this World Cup game, it was a superb finish. 

The Quarter Final game with Cameroon was again won in extra time through a Gary Lineker penalty which was also sent to extra time thanks to another Lineker penalty. England had initially taken the lead with another David Platt effort but found themselves down 2-1 heading into the last ten minutes. The two penalties kept England’s dream alive and they progressed to the Semi Final.

West Germany faced England and once again the game went to extra time but unlike the two previous games there was no winner decided and so the lottery of penalties saw England eliminated. All the penalties were scored and the count was 3-3 before Stuart Pearce missed. The German, Olaf Thon scored his penalty, putting the pressure on Chris Waddle to score in order to keep the team in with a chance. Waddle launched the ball so hard above the goal I think it may actually have landed after the English team! West Germany did then go on to win the tournament and England lost to a late Schillaci penalty to finish fourth.



The World Cup came, under some protest, to the United States of America. Some purists of the sport didn’t think that a country who hadn’t embraced the sport should be allowed to host the cherry on top of the soccer cake, but you certainly cannot argue with the attendance. 
An average of 69,000 and an overall attendance of 3.5 million is still one of the, if not the, biggest attendance in World Cup history.

In Group A the hosts did much better than four years prior getting a point in their first game, also the first World Cup indoor game (under a roof), against Switzerland. Eric Wynalda scoring the equalizing goal for the USA after Georges Bregy had opened the scoring. Switzerland was managed by current England manager, Roy Hodgson. 

The next game will always be remembered under a shadow. Although it marks the first World Cup win for the USA on home soil, and also progression from the group stage, it also had a Andres Escobar own goal, which opened the scoring for the US. That was on the 22nd June and Colombia were eliminated after the third game, despite a win against Switzerland four days later. 2nd June Escobar was shot and killed in Medelin, Colombia with the majority believing that his own goal against the US caused many powerful drug lords in his home country losing bundles of money on big bets placed on this game. 

England didn’t qualify for the tournament at all and the USA progressed to the knockout stage. There they faced Brazil and did very well indeed to only concede the single goal from Bebeto in the last twenty minutes. Of course Brazil would go on to lift the trophy at the Rose Bowl on the 17th July to round off what was a very good World Cup all around. 

It raised the US profile which has been continuing to rise in the twenty years since. Now in 2014 the US team goes into World Cups as equals to most and present a real challenge for the elite sides.    



The World Cup was expanded to 32 teams for this tournament with eight groups of four. The USA were in Group F along with Germany, Iran and Yugoslavia. The opening defeat was not unexpected but the real disappointment was the 2-1 defeat to Iran in the second game. John Harkes was a surprise exclusion by manager Steve Sampson and the head coach did nothing to inspire confidence of the players during the World Cup. It was particularly disappointing because the good results against poor opposition in the friendly games prior to the World Cup following a good Copa America and previous World Cup expectation was high. 

The US fell out of the World Cup having scored just the single goal, conceding five and without a single point. All the buzz and momentum from the previous four years was lost in the space of ten days. The appointment of Bruce Arena restarted that building momentum and it has now been growing for the last twelve years and is now so strong that group elimination at the upcoming World Cup will be met with a much more intelligent and philosophical football fan than those watching France ‘98.

England fans will laugh at this because every two years they have to face big expectations and then disappointments, usually on penalties, in not only the World Cups but also the Euro’s. Qualifying second in the Group Stage England would face Argentina in the last 16. Despite falling behind early England pulled it back and then took the lead through a Shearer penalty and then a young Michael Owen wonder run and strike (youtube it!). David Beckham was sent off and the game ended a draw and the dreaded penalties. The Final penalty for England was taken, and missed by David Batty before Roberto Ayala put the Argentineans through. 

The hosts would go on to contest the final with Brazil with the hosts star man Zinedine Zidane scoring a brace before the half. Emmanuel Petit put le cherry on le cake.



Tomorrow is the final installment and I will look at the Japan and Korea World Cups in 2002, Germany in 2006 and, of course, the most recent South African tournament in 2010. 


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