Happy days

Posted on November 13, 2012 1:21 am

The U.S.men’s national team has scored a few famous upsets against major teams over the years, and also a few significant victories that are not as well remembered. Here are four of the latter:

United States 1, Poland 0, New Britain, Conn., Aug. 12, 1973: This was the fourth time the United States had played Poland in 1973, and the pattern seemed well established. Poland had won the first three by a total of 9-0. Further, this was a distinguished Polish team. The Poles were a revelation at the following year’s World Cup, and their team this day featured a galaxy of World Cup stars such as Kazimierz Deyna, Robert Gadocha, Jan Tomaszewski and Henryk Kasperczak. The American victory at Willowbrook Stadium was the first for the United States over a European team since the famous upset of England in 1950. Al Trost got the American goal in the 38th minute. He gained control of the ball in midfield, dribbled to within about 25 yards of the goal and fired a hard shot into the corner of the net that took goalkeeper Tomaszewski by surprise. Equally important to the victory was the work of American goalkeeper Mike Ivanow, who kept Poland at bay throughout the game.

United States 2, Hungary 0, Budapest, Oct. 26, 1979: A two-goal win over a good European team in its capital was something. Hungary was not the superpower that it had been 25 years before, but it wasn’t bad. In the previous year’s World Cup in Argentina, it had finished last in its first-round group, but that was one of the most loaded first-round groups in World Cup history, with Argentina, Italy and France. This game was at the Nep Stadium (above), Hungary’s national stadium, and the United States had been beaten, 3-0, by France two weeks before in Paris. That suggested that it was going to be a long 90 minutes in Budapest for the Americans, but the team and coach Walt Chyzowych had used those two weeks well in preparing for this game. Both American goals came on breakaways, by Louie Nanchoff in the 70th minute and 10 minutes later by Angelo DiBernardo, who took advantage of the way the Hungarians were pressing forward for an equalizer. In between the two goals, Hungary had been awarded a penalty, but the shot went over the bar.

United States 3, Ireland 1, Washington, May 30, 1992: The United States turned in an exciting performance in this game, the opener of a dry-run tournament being conducted by the organizers of the 1994 World Cup. The visitors had been in the World Cup quarterfinals just two years before. The United States was fielding a full-strength team, including the long-awaited U.S. debuts of Thomas Dooley and Roy Wegerle, and the return from European club seasons of John Harkes, Paul Caligiuri and Tab Ramos. Two excellent goals in the final 20 minutes broke open a game that had been tied, 1-1. First, Ramos took a low cross from Fernando Clavijo and sent it into a corner of the net with a bullet of a volley from 20 yards out. With three minutes left, Wegerle back-heeled the ball toward Dooley in the penalty area. As keeper Gerry Payton dove at the ball, Dooley chipped it between defenders toward the far post and Harkes ran onto it to blast it into an open net.

United States 1, Mexico 0, Pasadena, June 4, 1994: Coach Bora Milutinovic took a chance by sending his team up against a strong opponent in front of a hostile crowd of more than 90,000 in its final game before the start of the World Cup. The gamble paid off in a victory that sent the American team’s confidence soaring. In the 52nd minute, Thomas Dooley sent a long ball from well behind the halfway line to Eric Wynalda near the left corner of the Mexican penalty area. Wynalda beat one defender as he dribbled to the end line, turned the corner, nutmegged another defender and drew goalkeeper Jorge Campos toward him at the near post. He then flicked the ball out to Roy Wegerle in the center of the penalty area for an open shot inside the far post.

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