At the 1994 world cup, America sought to encourage its young kids to dream of being professional soccer players by bringing the world cup to the states. Some young teens where inspired by the tournament and this generation produced a golden crop of american players, these are the ones discovered in 99-04 (donovan, beasley, dempsey, twellman) who have brought further attention to the sport through their international successes over the last five years. of particular note was Landon Donvan who admired the skills of Hagi in a classic match between Romania and Argentina; But someone was suspiciously absent from that game, and that world cup. Pele had seen world cup glory and failure, before returning to dazzle the world at his last world cup, the same can be said of Zidane. This is the mark of the true legends. The same too could have been said of Diego Armando Maradona, except his swan song was cut short; after just two matches, someone decided that Maradona needed to be drug checked and the findings led to Maradona being banned from the remainder of the tournament. Let's face it, the fact that the Colombian guy who scored an own goal (that led to America's only win in the world cup) was murdered had already put a damper on things. And if I recall, the world cup was competing for america's attention with the O.J. Simpson thing. To have, on top of that, banned the best player in the world from the tournament made for a somewhat duller world cup that fizzled out with a lackluster final; the only world cup final ever to end 0-0, whose most memorable moment is when a not-quite-as-good-a-superstar-as-maradona missed the decisive penalty. Italy was not good enough to be in the world cup final, they only got so far because Baggio had a bit of magic and the teams italy played in the knockout round where inexperienced. That Brazil had some magic, but not enough to really dazzle the world the way they did in 1970 and 1982. With Maradona in that tournament it could have been Argentina in the final against brazil/romania/germany/italy which would have been the greatest advertisement on the sport a host nation could ask for. To inspire that generation to play, America needed the greatest world cup ever. Kids don't understand how amazing a sport can be is unless you show it to them at it's very best. Why would American kids be interested in a sport with 'hype' but a lackluster and forgettable final match when they had Michael Jordan and the NFL? Think of the Mexican kids who witnessed the glories of Pele and Maradona and dreamed of world cup glory which drove so many of them to try to be players. America didn't even have a league at that time and it needed that world cup to be huge, which, combinded with the decent economic times of the late clinton years, would have given the sport a much greater boom early on. This is why we are all aching so bad to host the world cup again...because the last time just wasn't satisfying enough. Diego Armando Maradona's swan song was to dazzle America and inspire a generation of 90's kids to dream of world cup glory. It was ment to be and America blew it. War on Drugs be damned, we could have won three world cups by now.