CHICAGO (Aug. 13, 2013) – Former U.S. Men’s National Team forwards Joe-Max Moore and Peter Vermes will be inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame on Friday, Oct. 11, in a ceremony taking place at 2 p.m. CT on the West Plaza of Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.
The National Soccer Hall of Fame and U.S. Soccer will hold Induction 2013, presented by Eurosport, ahead of the U.S. MNT’s FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Jamaica. The event will be free and open to the public. Gates for the Hall of Fame induction open at 1:30 p.m. CT. Current Hall of Famers, as well as the Class of 2013 inductees, will be recognized on the field during the match against Jamaica.
Moore enters the Hall of Fame in his second-to-last year of eligibility on the Player ballot. During his MNT tenure, Moore appeared in 100 games, including three FIFA World Cups, and his 24 goals rank fifth on the all-time list. He also scored 53 goals in six seasons with Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution.
Vermes enters the Hall of Fame on the Veteran ballot. He scored 11 goals in 66 career games with the U.S. MNT, helped the squad qualify for the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy and captained the team during its championship run at the inaugural CONCACAF Gold Cup in 1991. He was the 1988 U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year in his first stint with the National Team and was the 2000 MLS Defender of the Year, leading the Kansas City Wizards to the MLS Cup Championship. Vermes currently manages Sporting Kansas City, which has won back-to-back Eastern Conference regular-season titles in MLS and won the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
The U.S. MNT’s match against Jamaica on Oct. 11 is the team’s second-to-last match in World Cup Qualifying. The game kicks off at 5:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on an ESPN network, WatchESPN and UniMas, and on ESPN Deportes Radio. Fans can also follow on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer.
Established in 1950, the National Soccer Hall of Fame is dedicated to the sport of soccer in the United States by celebrating its history, preserving its legacy, inspiring its youth and honoring its heroes for generations to come.
ussoccer.com: What was your immediate reaction after hearing the news that you were selected for the National Soccer Hall of Fame class of 2013?
Peter Vermes: “I think most people would say the same if it happened to them, you’re surprised. The one thing that I didn’t expect to happen was it made me pretty quickly reflect, not just on my professional playing career but since I started playing the game and more importantly on the people that I’ve come to know throughout the years through the game. It’s not just players or coaches, it’s people who have been on the administrative side of the game, people that help grow the game whether it be owners, or people in U.S. Soccer and MLS, you just start to really reflect on your time within that and all those great people that you’ve come across and how far the game has come.”
ussoccer.com: Out of all the wonderful people you mentioned that you met throughout your career who was your first phone call too after hearing the good news?
PV: “Hank talked to me, left me a message and I called him, he’s the one who gave me the news, I have a very good relationship with Hank and he said that he didn’t want me to tell anybody. So I actually didn’t call anybody, I told my wife when I got home, obviously she was very happy for me and I really didn’t tell anybody else. We had our game this past week and there was a little bit of an announcement in our locker room after the game and my son was in there and he couldn’t believe that I hadn’t told him.”
ussoccer.com: At what point in your career did you realize that being inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame was within the realm of possibility?
PV: “I remember the first year I was up for it and didn’t get it; I guess it kind of hits you then. I think the thing is you never really believe that you will until you’re in. As a player you’ll remember more about what it meant to you to play the game and what those memories were as opposed to waiting to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I’m very fortunate, I’ve been in the game for my whole life and I coach with Kerry Zavagnin who was my teammate since 2000, we played together and he’s one of my best friends and we’re still together in the game today. For me it’s those things that have meant so much to me and now to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, as a player obviously it’s a big honor and knowing full well that I get a chance to continue on in the game is tremendous.”
ussoccer.com: If you had to choose one of the many great moments in your Hall of Fame career as your résumé moment, which moment would you choose?
PV: “The easy ones would be to say ‘played in the Olympics or went to the World Cup’ obviously those were major parts in my career. What I would say is probably something completely different than what most would say and that is I played professionally for 15 years and the first eight I played as a center forward. The year that I played in New York, in ’96, the first year of the league (MLS) I wound up playing every position on the field that year for the MetroStars. With about six games left in the season Carlos Queiroz who was our coach came up to me and said ‘I have a new challenge for you today’ I said ‘okay what’s that?’ he said ‘I want you to play central defender.’ From that point on I played central defender thereafter for the rest of my career. I think when I got invited back to the National Team as a central defender; I think that summed things up for me. I had talent but the one thing I truly believe about my time was my work ethic and my attitude were my biggest qualities. I wouldn’t let anybody outwork me and I think I always had the right attitude for the game, no matter where I was and I always wanted play on the field, if you needed me to play anywhere I would. Being able to achieve the National Team coming from a center forward to a defender I think was a huge accomplishment, I don’t think that happens too often.”
ussoccer.com: What did it mean to you to be part of the 1990 World Cup team that ended the United States’ 40-year drought and what was that experience like?
PV: “A lot of people say that group of guys at that time, not just the players but coaches and administrators involved, Sunil Gulati, Werner Fricker, Bob Gansler, they say those people are the pioneers to where soccer is today. When we were going through all that none of us really thought that way or believed it. If I had to reflect back on it today I would say, absolutely, it’s the truth. There’s a lot of people that put a tremendous amount of work into keeping the game alive over many years prior to that but without a real professional league, division one at least in this country, it was hard to maintain a level and a high quality of play that could participate or even think about qualifying for a World Cup all those years prior to that. U.S. Soccer made a very strong commitment to that World Cup, Bob Gansler did an unbelievable job with the limited resources that he had and I don’t mean just money or facilities but even players. We were all guys that were coming out of college and were trying to qualify for the World Cup. With all of that it truly is a group of people that are pioneers and if you look today we’re still involved in the game at one level or another it says so much about that group of people and that time period. If you look back at where the game was then and where it is now it’s absolutely incredible.”
ussoccer.com: Another huge honor in your career was having a field named after you in your hometown of Delran, N. J. Young soccer players grow up and learn the game at Peter Vermes Field where you grew up, what does this colossal recognition for you as an individual mean for the community you grew up in?
PV: I’m from a town that back in the day didn’t get a lot of respect for soccer but I’m definitely from an area that gets a tremendous amount of respect in the United States for soccer in New Jersey. Very interesting story that goes along with that is I went to a place called Delran High School, so did Carli Lloyd. I went to Rutgers University, so did she. She played for our National Team in the Olympics and the World Cup and so did I. So we’ve both had similar careers in that regard, it’s incredible to think those people came out of the same town so I think it’s great for those kids in that area to understand that opportunities are out there. I truly believe that if you have the dedication and the work ethic and you want to do it then the possibilities are endless.
ussoccer.com: Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is highest level you can go within your profession. Now that you’ve accomplished that where do you go from here?
PV: “This game has, as I said before, I’ve watched it grow over many decades now. I’m so excited for the future of this game in this country, I think we’re on the tipping point of where this game is going to take its rightful place in the major sports of this country. Because we have such an outreach internationally and I think we’re gaining respect on a regular basis in the international community for the game, I’m excited to be a part of the continuous growth of this game. Not only in this country but also internationally cause I think that our players are getting better, our teams are getting better the National Team is getting better, everything is evolving. Its evolving in a way that I think we’re going to become a very strong competitor of the world’s game not only domestically but internationally. Although we have in the past been there, I think there have been glimpses at times, I think we’re getting to a point where we’re becoming a real player. And I think MLS has taken a huge stride forward that it’s almost like you can’t hold it back and I love having the opportunity to be part of that, not only to watch it grow but also be a part of the development so I’ll continue in this position and hopefully there’s a lot more things to come in the future, but growing the game just within [Sporting Kansas City] is a fantastic opportunity, a privilege and I’ll continue to cherish it and make the most of it.”
Former U.S. Men's National Team Stars Joe-Max Moore and Peter Vermes Elected Into National Soccer Hall of Fame
Pair of Former World Cup Veterans, Moore and Vermes to Represent National Soccer Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013 in Player and Veteran Categories
CHICAGO (April 3, 2013) – Former U.S. Men’s National Team forwards Joe-Max Moore and Peter Vermes have been elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame. Moore is the sole Player representative, while Vermes enters the Hall of Fame as a representative from the Veteran ballot. None of the candidates in the Builder category received the required amount of votes to be elected into the Hall of Fame this year.
As a forward and midfielder who played for three U.S. World Cup teams, Moore enters the Hall of Fame in his second to last year of eligibility on the player ballot. Starting with the 1992 Olympics, Moore made 100 appearances for the Men’s National Team over the next decade, including three FIFA World Cups and his 24 goals rank fifth all-time in MNT history. He also spent six seasons in Major League Soccer – all with the New England Revolution – scoring 53 goals.
Moore scored plenty of big goals in big games for his country throughout his career, however, none bigger than his final two tallies. On Oct. 7, 2001 in Foxboro, Mass. Moore scored both goals in the crucial 2-1 World Cup clinching victory against Jamaica, spearheading the USA’s best World Cup run in history the following year.
The National Soccer Hall of Fame induction announcement comes as part of Centennial Week, as U.S. Soccer continues a year-long celebration honoring the history of the game. Centennial Week kicked off Tuesday with the ringing of the NYSE closing bell and continues Thursday with activities all day in Times Square. The week-long celebration will culminate on April 5, the exact date the U.S. Soccer charter was signed back in 1913, with a press conference at New York City Hall, lighting of the Empire State Building and a watch party for the U.S. Women’s National Team at Nevada Smiths.
Joining Moore in the Hall of Fame from the Veteran ballot is current Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes. Vermes was an integral part of the U.S. Men’s National Team from 1988-97, making his debut in the ’88 Olympic Games. He scored 11 goals in his 66 career caps and helped the MNT qualify for its first FIFA World Cup in 40 years in 1990. Following the ’90 World Cup in Italy, Vermes captained the MNT for its championship run in the inaugural CONCACAF Gold Cup in ’91.
Vermes also became the first American to play in the Hungarian and Dutch first divisions during his club career and starred in MLS from 1996-2002 for the New York MetroStars, Colorado Rapids and Kansas City Wizards.
“Soccer is the consummate team sport and being inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame is certainly indicative of that. It is humbling and a great honor” Vermes said. “I am appreciative and have learned so much from all of the teammates I have played with and now all the players I have been around from the youth level up on the technical side. My dedication and passion for soccer will never waver and I am so grateful for this recognition.”
The location and date for the 2013 National Soccer Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is still to be determined and will be announced at a later date.
Complete information about the election and eligibility procedures is available online at ussoccer.com.The National Soccer Hall of Fame closed its Oneonta, N.Y., facility in 2010. The election process is being administered by U.S. Soccer Federation staff under election and eligibility guidelines established by the Hall of Fame board of directors.
Established in 1950, the National Soccer Hall of Fame is dedicated to the sport of soccer in the United States by celebrating its history, preserving its legacy, inspiring its youth and honoring its heroes for generations to come.
Sporting Kansas City Claims 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup After Penalty Shootout Victory Against Three-Time Defending Champion Seattle Sounders FC
- Sporting Edges Seattle 3-2 in Shootout After 1-1 Draw in Regulation and Extra Time
- First Final Decided by Penalties Since 1997
- Kansas City Collects Second Open Cup to Add to Title in 2004
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Aug. 8, 2012) – For the first time in 15 years, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup required a penalty kick shootout to determine a winner. After a 1-1 draw that lasted through 90 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of overtime, Sporting Kansas City prevailed with a 3-2 shootout victory against three-time defending U.S. Open Cup champion Seattle Sounders FC on Wednesday in front of a crowd of 18,873 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.
Paulo Nagamura’s penalty kick proved to be the game-winner in the fifth round after each team had twice failed to convert. Seattle forward Eddie Johnson had a chance to equalize but skied his shot over the crossbar after Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen displayed an assortment of chatter and movement to try to disrupt his effort. Kansas City earned its first title since 2004, when the formerly named Kansas City Wizards won the Open Cup.
Kei Kamara and Matt Besler tallied the other two penalties in the shootout for Sporting. Kamara also had the game’s first goal in regulation in the 84 th minute, only to see the lead erased two minutes later by Seattle defender Zach Scott.
The shootout was the first since the Dallas Burn won the 1997 U.S. Open Cup against D.C. United in penalties at Carroll Stadium in Indianapolis. The Burn and D.C. United played to a scoreless draw through regulation, and Dallas topped D.C. 5-3 in the shootout.
Wednesday’s match saw the end of a phenomenal U.S. Open Cup run by the Seattle Sounders, which had won the three previous tournaments and had dominated most of this year’s field heading into the final. Seattle was in search of an unprecedented fourth straight crown.
The start of the match was delayed approximately 40 minutes because of rain, lightning and hail. When play got underway, it was Sporting Kansas City that generated the better scoring chances within the game’s first 20 minutes. In the 24th minute, Kamara took a shot from about 25 yards that had Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning beat, but his effort caromed off the crossbar.
The Sounders’ first shot on goal nearly found the back of the net when Mauro Rosales delivered a 30th-minute corner kick into the box to a leaping Johnson. He rose above the Sporting defense and headed the ball toward goal, but Nielsen dove to his left for the clutch save. Johnson attacked again in the 35th minute, making a strong turn as he received the ball in the midfield and sped past the Kansas City defense before firing a shot just wide left of the goal.
Sporting’s Seth Sinovic took a deep chance outside the box in the 38th minute, a left-footed strike that came close to finding the upper left corner of the frame that hit the outside netting. The Sporting Kansas City faithful prematurely thought it was a goal with a small burst of confetti flying near the end line.
With Seattle and Kansas City combining for only five shots and three on goal in the second half, the two worn-out MLS sides clearly struggled to create consistent scoring chances in regulation.
Both teams finally broke through on the score sheet in a short time frame. Sporting gave its home crowd a 1-0 lead in the 84th minute as Kamara capitalized on a penalty kick after Seattle’s defense was called for a handball in the box. Kamara placed his shot just inside the right post as Gspurning guessed the opposite direction.
Kansas City’s lead was short-lived as Seattle responded on a set piece opportunity in the 86th minute. Rosales took a free kick that he sent into the box and Scott found a gap in the Sporting defense, rising for the header and redirecting it perfectly into the left corner of the net. Nielsen did not have a chance to react and the scored remained level after 90 minutes.
Kamara made things interesting in second-half stoppage time with a superb right-footed strike that just missed the mark, and Sporting and Seattle could not wrap things up in regulation.
In the two 15-minute overtime sessions, Sporting managed one shot on goal while Seattle could not muster a genuine opportunity. Seattle defender Patrick Ianni picked up his second yellow card and was sent off in the 118th minute, but that had little bearing as Kansas City and Seattle decided the title winner through penalty kicks.
The shootout had its share of ebbs and flows, with Seattle carrying a 2-1 lead after hitting its first two attempts from Brad Evans and Burch. Gspurning came close to turning away Kamara’s opening attempt, then saved Espinoza’s strike.
Besler tied the shootout at 2-2, and the next three attempts either went over the crossbar or were saved. Seattle’s Alonso powered his shot over, then Sporting’s Graham Zusi tried a chip that also missed the target. Nielsen saved Tiffert’s attempt and the two sides stayed at 2-2 through a combined eight shot attempts.
The turning point of the shootout was Nagamura’s penalty. Nagamura, who played most of the game with a big gash above his left cheek from a collision with Seattle’s Alex Caskey, took his penalty kick toward the right side of the net and Gspurning turned it aside. However, the official ruled that Gspurning was off his line too early and Nagamura was awarded a second chance.
Nagamura took his next opportunity with a bit more conviction, this time to the left, and buried it for a 3-2 lead that would deliver Sporting the U.S. Open Cup crown.
- Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Match Report -
Sporting Kansas City vs. Seattle Sounders FC
Date: Aug. 8, 2012
Competition: 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final
Venue: LIVESTRONG Sporting Park
Kickoff: 8 p.m. CT
Weather: 77 degrees, clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 OT1 OT2 F
SKC 0 1 0 0 1
SEA 0 1 0 0 1
SKC – Kei Kamara (penalty) 84th minute
SEA – Zach Scott (Mauro Rosales) 86
SKC: Kamara (goal), Espinoza (saved), Besler (goal), Zusi (miss), Nagamura (goal)
SEA: Evans (goal), Burch (goal), Alonso (miss), Tiffert (saved), Johnson (miss)
Sporting Kansas City wins 3-2 on PKs
SKC: 1-Jimmy Nielsen (capt.); 7-Chance Myers, 13-Lawrence Olum, 5-Matt Besler, 16-Seth Sinovic (2-Michael Harrington, 100); 6-Paulo Nagamura, 55-Julio Cesar, 15-Roger Espinoza, 8-Graham Zusi; 9-Teal Bunbury (17-C.J. Sapong, 89), 23-Kei Kamara
Subs not used: 18-Eric Kronberg, 22-Soony Saad, 25-Neven Markovic, 37-Jacob Peterson, 88-Michael Thomas
Head coach: Peter Vermes
1-Michael Gspurning; 20-Zach Scott, 34-Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, 4-Patrick Ianni, 12-Leonardo Gonzalez; 10-Mauro Rosales (capt.), 6-Osvaldo Alonso, 25-Andy
Rose (13-Christian Tiffert, 69), 27-Alex Caskey (3-Brad Evans, 69); 17-Fredy Montero (8-Marc Burch, 106), 7-Eddie Johnson
Subs not used: 11-Steve Zakuani, 13-Christian Tiffert, 26-Sammy Ochoa, 31-Jeff Parke, 33-Andrew Weber
Head coach: Sigi Schmid
Statistical Summary: SKC / SEA
Shots: 14 / 7
Shots on Goal: 6 / 2
Saves: 1 / 5
Corner Kicks: 3 / 3
Fouls: 18 / 15
Offside: 0 / 2
SEA – Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 4th minute
SEA – Mauro Rosales (caution) 57
SEA – Patrick Ianni (caution) 73
SEA – Zach Scott (caution) 93
SEA – Patrick Ianni (caution) 118
SEA – Patrick Ianni (sent off) 118
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Assistant Referee 1: Corey Rockwell
Assistant Referee 2: Peter Manikowski
Fourth Official: Michael Kennedy
Budweiser Man of the Match:
The 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champion Sporting Kansas City and runner-up Seattle Sounders FC players and coaches discuss Wednesday’s title match, where Sporting prevailed 3-2 in a penalty kick shootout at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.
Sporting Kansas City Head Coach PETER VERMES
On the significance of the winning the tournament:
“I’m extremely excited for the ownership group, for the club and the staff, the players and the fans, and more importantly, Kansas City. We really set out on a mission to make soccer a major sport in this community and this city. I think that when you look at the event tonight, it just demonstrates the commitment that this organization and this ownership has and that our fans do, as well. It's an incredible reward for the great job that everyone did.”
On the importance of the home crowd:
“It was fantastic. Staying through the bad weather early on and continuing to keep the noise up and supporting us throughout the whole entire game. It was fantastic. Just putting a lot of pressure on Seattle, especially on the penalty kicks, a big credit to them.”
On the penalty shootout:
“We knew going in who our guys were going to be. But we had to make a change because Teal [Bunbury] was one of them. He wasn’t out there because we had made a sub. All-in-all, I thought the guys did a good job. They stayed focused. They got the job done at the end of the day. They committed to what we need to do.”
On the importance of the berth in the CONCACAF Champions League:
“It’s what we set out do as a club, first of all, to be in competitions like that. This made is a straight berth into it for us. Bringing that kind of competition to this facility and to this club is the next step in the direction that we want to go in.”
Sporting Kansas City Goalkeeper JIMMY NIELSEN
On Sporting’s penalty shootout victory over Seattle:
“I’m so happy right now, just extremely happy. It’s well deserved for this whole organization and this whole city. There are a lot of hard-working people in this organization, and they’re doing an excellent job to promote the soccer team. This is not only Sporting Kansas City’s victory and night, it’s the whole city’s night. It’s unbelievable how this team has grown in the last year-and-a-half. It’s unreal. I’m happy for so many people on and around this team.”
On his strategy in defending the Seattle penalty kicks:
“I had a plan A and a plan B for the shootout. I didn’t’ really feel like plan A was working, so I changed a little bit. I tried to mess around with them a little bit and get into their head.”
Sporting Kansas City Midfielder PAULO NAGAMURA
On preparing for the penalty kick shootout:
“We trained for penalty kicks during the whole week and Peter [Vermes] made his selection right before the shootout. We are just glad to bring this Cup home to our fans. They have done so much for us, so it is good to give them something in return. We were confident we could do this tonight. We are a good team. Seattle is a good team, too, but we thought we could do this. It was a very hard game and it has ended very well for us.”
On the victory:
“This win ranks pretty high in my career. I’ve won this trophy once with Los Angeles but this one is pretty special because of the home crowd and this stage. This win is for Sporting KC, and it’s very big.”
On the injury he suffered to his face in the first half:
“I think I’m going to have to have three stitches. But there was no chance of me leaving the game. I knew I had to be on the field to help my team win.”
On retaking his penalty kick during the shootout:
“The second time I took the shot, I was pretty confident. I knew he was off his line the first time, and I didn’t think he could stop me two times. I trained really well this week, so I knew I just needed composure. I thought he came off his line more than once. But I’m glad it worked out for us. We’re the winners, and we’re very happy with that.”
Sporting Kansas City Forward KEI KAMARA
On the win against Seattle:
“This is a dream come true. We wanted to do this for the fans. They’ve been fantastic for us for the longest time. Things didn’t come easy, Seattle’s a tough team. They’re organized and hard to beat, but we came out tonight knowing we had to win. There wasn’t really a choice. We had to do this for SKC Nation.”
On making two penalties, one in the 84th minute and one in the shootout:
“I’m comfortable taking penalties. It’s my job on the team, so when Peter [Vermes] decided I would go first, I knew I had to deliver just like I did earlier. Jimmy [Nielsen’s] save was the momentum swinger in the shootout. Once he made that save, you kind of felt like we were going to do it.”
On where this win ranks in his MLS career:
“This is about as good as it gets. Winning a major trophy in front of the best fans in the League, you couldn’t ask for more than this. Everyone on the team deserves this moment. Everyone out in the crowd deserves this moment. I’m so happy for everyone.”
Seattle Sounders FC Head Coach SIGI SCHMID
On his team’s performance in the U.S. Open Cup title match:
“Even when we went down 1-0 tonight, we came back right away and got the equalizer. Obviously, there were guys out there playing on fumes because of the fact that they have played so many minutes over the last 10 days. It is what it is, but I am very proud of what we accomplished. I think we had a good chance to get four in a row. We missed our last three penalty kicks so that is something that doesn’t help. And certainly if he doesn’t call the one back, we’re still taking penalty kicks right now.”
On Zach Scott’s equalizer during regulation:
“It showed the character of the team. We went down 1-0 and we got one back. It was a little bit of fate, as well, because I thought theirs was undeserved and we ended up getting it right back and equalizing the game. Obviously Zach did well, and it was a great free kick from Mauro [Rosales].”
Seattle Sounders FC Defender ZACH SCOTT
On this year’s U.S. Open Cup:
“Obviously it was a great run. It didn’t end like we hoped it would, but we’re still very proud. The quality we put into this game, we gave ourselves a good chance to win. The circumstances just didn’t work in our favor. But now our focus has to be quickly back to league play and on our game on Saturday versus San Jose. That is the most important thing at this point.”
On scoring the team’s equalizer:
“I knew their marking wasn’t as tight as they wanted it to be and we have so many guys who are good in the air. As long as Mauro [Rosales] put it into a good spot, which he always does, we knew we would have a chance. Fortunately, I was the guy in the right place at the right time and I was able to get just enough on it to tuck it into the corner.”
On conceding a penalty kick:
“I have a ton of respect for the refs in our league, Ricardo [Salazar] in particular. I think he’s a great ref. I think you guys saw the game. I think you guys saw the replays. I am not going to comment any further on that. Sigi [Schmid] can comment on the refs all he wants. But as for me, I will be the first guy to put my hand up when I make a mistake, and I hope the refs do the same.”
Seattle Sounders FC Forward EDDIE JOHNSON:
On his penalty kick that went over the crossbar:
“It’s those moments that you dream of as a soccer player, being able to make those moments, wanting to contribute to the team in pressure situations. But I wouldn’t change anything about my approach to that. I was confident taking it, I sent the keeper the wrong way. Maybe from a psychological standpoint, he probably got in my head a little bit, because he was reading a piece of paper. But for me, I didn’t want to change anything. I was comfortable going that way and I just hit it a little too hard. But, I wouldn’t change anything about the approach. I wouldn’t change anything about the way we played as a team.”
On the team’s performance:
“I thought we came out and we showcased ourselves well and played them well with them having the home-field advantage and having the fans behind them. I think we still created chances and gave ourselves a chance to still get something out of the game.”
On the penalty kick shootout:
“On a perfect day, the save that [goalkeeper Michael] Gspurning made that got retaken goes our way. But it didn’t go our way this time. If you ask me, or the other four guys that took penalty kicks, we’re all confident. But it didn’t go our way.”
Along with the pride of qualifying for the seventh straight FIFA World Cup, many U.S. fans also remember there was a gap of 40 years between appearances from 1950-1990. Thus for many Americans, the 1990 draw in Italy was the start of a learning process that has continued even today, when fans, players and pundits alike discuss with increasing regularity the merits of drawing your World Cup group.
Former U.S. Men’s National Team player Peter Vermes was part of the team that qualified for the first World Cup in 40 years in 1989 and remembers finding out about the U.S.’ group while on television, as well as the awkward coincidence of finding himself sitting right next to one of his future opponents.
“I was playing club soccer for FC Volendam in Holland and was invited onto a sports show, similar to something you’d find on ESPN here, along with several other international players who played on Dutch club teams,” said Vermes. “They were showing the draw live, and U.S. and Czechoslovakia were drawn into the same group. Of course, the player sitting next to me had to be Czech. It was pretty funny, and we ended up making a friendly wager on the show.
“That obviously didn’t work out too well for me after they beat us 5-1.”
Drawn into a now-impossible three European team group, including hosts Italy and Austria, the U.S. certainly had rough luck with the balls. But Vermes doesn’t look back on it in quite the negative light. “It wasn’t as if we’d ever been part of it before, at least the guys in my generation. We were so happy just being in the World Cup, that it didn’t really matter which group we were thrown into.”
Even if American sports fans hadn’t really known about the draw in 1989, they got an up close look at the process in December of 1993 when the U.S. hosted it in Las Vegas, Nev. The use of one of America’s brightest cities to shine on a worldwide event seemed fitting for a country preparing to host its first World Cup and increased the spectacle of the ceremony, from a simple logistics process into a show for the world to see.
“For the ’94 draw in Vegas, you could not have picked a better place to have the draw than Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas,” said journalist Michael Lewis, who has covered every draw since 1986 in Mexico.
“You’re talking about a worldwide audience of over 1 billion people watching it. It’s like one big giant media day, and you get the chance to talk with various national team coaches before the draw, FIFA officials, maybe a couple celebrities like Pele or Franz Beckenbauer. For a sportswriter or anyone in the media, it’s a goldmine. Sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day to write everything you want to at the draw.”
One little known fact about the draw is that there is a dress rehearsal for the proceedings. “Sometimes you hear about the dress rehearsal results and you hear that ‘The United States has been put in with so and so teams,’ said Lewis. You think ‘Wow, that’s a great draw for the U.S.’, but you know you’re not going to get the same exact draw again.”
As U.S. Soccer has improved over the years, the importance of the draw has grown. No longer happy just to see our name on the board, players, coaches and fans began to understand the strategy and value in getting thrown into a group with specific teams by France ’98 and Korea/Japan ’02.
“There were so many things that we were so naïve to in the Italy draw,” said Vermes. “The strategy for your group, preparing for not just the teams but the order of matches, even what it meant be in the same group as the hosts.
“Now, with this being our sixth consecutive draw, the expectations are higher because we expect to make it into the next round. It just goes to illustrate how quickly the U.S. has grown in the world of soccer.”
After the success of the 2002 World Cup, where the U.S. reached the quarterfinals after knocking off regional rival Mexico in the round of 16 before falling 1-0 to Germany, U.S. Men’s National Team all-time caps leader Cobi Jones was back in the draw arena for 2006 representing the United States. But this time, he wasn’t waiting to hear his group as a player—he was helping to pick the groups for every other nation.
“In 2005, I got a call from our press officer and he told me that I had been chosen by FIFA to draw balls, and of course it was a great honor but a definite surprise,” said Jones. “I had no clue that I was in consideration for it, but once I got the invitation, everything else went to the side and I made myself available and was ready to go.
“It was a great honor just to be there. I mean, talking about the hoopla in Vegas at the draw for 1994, it was nothing compared to what was going on in Germany. The whole country stopped. To be a part of that and to see the festivities with people like Johann Cruyff, Pele, and the Prime Minister of Germany, Angela Merkel…it was just special to be up there representing the United States and to be pulling out the balls and picking teams’ destinies.”
Comparing the 1994 draw (which he attended as a player) and the 2006 draw (where he helped pick the groups), Jones considered which one had more pressure.
“I would say, to be honest, it was more nerve wracking doing the balls and everything,” he said. “When you’re a player you’re just excited and ready to play. You’re not too concerned about the actual function, you just want to see who you’re playing, where and when and get ready to go.”
Friday, Dec. 4, will no doubt be a big day not just for the U.S. but around the world as well. Three years of matches and almost two months of anticipation will finally come to fruition as the U.S. Men’s National Team finds out where, when and who they’ll face in South Africa next summer. As the history shows, there is more pressure on the draw results now then there was in 1989. But with that pressure comes the pride of knowing that the United States no longer shows up just to participate—we’ve got as much of a right to the trophy as any nation.