U.S. Soccer

2002 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Final Round

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WAY BACK: DaMarcus Beasley Remembers First World Cup Qualifier From 2001 in Trinidad & Tobago

When the U.S. Men’s National stepped onto the vaunted Estadio Azteca pitch during June’s World Cup Qualifying clash a little history was made. MNT and Liga MX veteran DaMarcus Beasley was slotted in at left back for the difficult tie, making his first appearance of the USA’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying campaign and in turn, becoming the first MNT player to appear in five different qualifying cycles.

That feat was all made possible because of his inclusion in a Final Round qualifier played at Trinidad & Tobago in November 2001. Just a month earlier, the USA had memorably defeated Jamaica 2-1 and had each of the other two results go its way to secure its place at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. That triumph, combined with Trinidad & Tobago’s early elimination allowed Bruce Arena to try a few different looks with his lineup, one of which was handing Beasley, who had been capped just twice before, his qualifying debut at the tender age of 19.

“We had already qualified and obviously the pressure was off, so being a young kid, you go out there and just play,” the 35-year-old remembered about the experience.

Lining up on the left side of midfield alongside Earnie Stewart, John O’Brien and Jovan Kirovski, Beasley was active early on, but would eventually be hampered by an elbow to the head from Soca Warriors’ attacker Nigel Pierre in the 17th minute. Beasley stayed down on the Hasely Crawford pitch for a long period of time before walking off moments later.

“My debut didn’t last too long because I got a concussion in the first half and came off at halftime."

At a time where concussion awareness wasn’t as heightened as the present day, Beasley was cleared to re-enter the game before being replaced by Cobi Jones at the break.

“I kind of still remember the play,” he said, “but I don’t remember too much of the game.”

Those that didn’t have concussions would have a hard time remembering it as well. Played on a steamy afternoon in Port of Spain, both teams saw multiple shots go high and wide throughout the match, though Beasley’s Chicago Fire teammate and fellow qualifying debutant Zach Thornton did make a nice diving save on Stern John’s hit from distance in the 52nd minute.  

Eventually the final whistle blew as the team’s shared a point in the 0-0 draw.

Still hanging around with the National Team 16 years later, Beasley said he looked forward to returning to Trinidad & Tobago, this time with a different setting -- the smaller Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva -- but still with plenty more on the line than his qualifying debut.

“This is what all players want, a chance to qualify for the World Cup, but to be part of the game that actually does it. People take it for granted and say that you should just qualify. People don’t understand how big qualifying for the World Cup is, how much blood, sweat and hard work goes into a qualifier. Hopefully we get a good result on Tuesday and we can celebrate a little bit when we do it. It’ll be a great end to a long qualifying campaign.”

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IN PHOTOS: Earnie Stewart Remembers 2001 World Cup Qualifiers vs. Honduras

The U.S. MNT initially met Honduras in 1965 and actually earned its first World Cup Qualifying win in Central America in a 1-0 victory on March 17 in Tegucigalpa. The two nations wouldn’t face each other again in qualifying until 2001, with both matches providing great goals and other memorable moments along the way. Serving as captain in both matches, Earnie Stewart also scored three Read more
MNT Mar 19, 2017

Josh Wolff and the Spark that Set the Dos a Cero Fire

Originally published on October 6, 2015. When the schedule for the Final Round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup came around, the U.S. Soccer Federation had a different idea. Drawn to play rivals Mexico first, and in February no less, U.S. Soccer decided to try and maximize home-field by taking advantage of the new phenomenon in the American game – the soccer specific stadiu Read more
MNT Oct 18, 2016

Gallery: 2001 - Dos a Cero Begins

The FIFA World Cup Qualifier on Feb. 28, 2001 between the USA and Mexico before a raucous crowd at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio saw the USA beat their arch-rival 2-0 to start the "dos a cero" trend that would become so memorable over the next decade. Read more
MNT Sep 19, 2016

MNT vs. Mexico: Highlights - Feb. 28, 2001

Highlights from the USA's famous 2-0 victory against Mexico on Feb. 28, 2001. Josh Wolff and Earnie Stewart got the goals in front of a packed pro-U.S. crowd at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Read more
MNT Feb 28, 2011

Schedule

Results

Date Matchup Result Venue Attendance Goal Scorers
0-0 D Hasely Crawford Stadium; Port of Spain, Trinidad 5,000
2-1 W Foxboro Stadium; Foxborough, Mass. 40,483 Moore (2)
0-2 L Estadio Ricardo Saprissa; San Jose, Costa Rica 19,200 --
2-3 L RFK Stadium; Washington, D.C. 54,282 Stewart (2)
0-1 L Estadio Azteca; Mexico City, Mexico 110,000
2-0 W Foxboro Stadium; Foxborough, Mass. 31,211 Razov, Stewart
0-0 D National Stadium; Kingston, Jamaica 35,000
1-0 W Arrowhead Stadium; Kansas City, Mo. 37,319 Wolff
2-1 W Estadio Olimpico; San Pedro Sula, Honduras 46,000 Stewart, Mathis
2-0 W Columbus Crew Stadium; Columbus, Ohio 24,624 Wolff, Stewart
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