While 14-year U.S. veteran Earnie Stewart has had numerous memorable moments throughout 101 international appearances for the United States, none reaches the height of his game-winning goal against Colombia in the USA's second group match of the 1994 World Cup. On June 22, 1994, before 93,194 fans at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Stewart's strike helped propel the U.S. to a 2-1 victory and into the second round of the tournament, where they would fall to eventual champions Brazil. The USA's performance in 1994 would help re-ignite a passion and commitment to the sport in this country, helping to launch Major League Soccer in 1996 and serving as the backbone of the future success of the national team. Now as the U.S. MNT get set to face Colombia in Titan Stadium in Fullerton, Calif., this Wednesday, March 9, ussoccer.com takes a look back at Stewart's special moment through the eyes of those who witnessed it.
Earnie Stewart: "I remember running across the box about 25 yards out. Tab Ramos gave a fantastic ball with the inside of his right foot that came straight into my path. I don't want to say it was an easy goal, but it was such a nice pass that it deserved a nice finish."
"I don't remember much about the experience. It was such a dream for me to play in the '94 World Cup. When you're young, you don't enjoy it, but you live it at the moment."
Claudio Reyna: "It was a very, very hot day, and I was on the bench injured. I remember Tab played Earnie through, and it seemed like the ball took forever to cross the goal line. Up until that moment we were playing well, and I thought we deserved a goal. After that, the whole team kicked up a level of confidence. Colombia was a pre-tournament favorite, so to get our only win of the tournament against them was huge."
Kasey Keller: "I happened to be at the game. I was visiting friends in L.A. at the time, and I remember it was hot as hell. I remember the goal, and Colombia's own goal as well, but what struck me the most after the game was that the crowd didn't seem to fully realize what the U.S. team had just accomplished."
Eddie Pope: "I was at my house in High Point, N.C., watching with my parents. I watched a ton of games during that World Cup, and the tournament in 1990 as well. I can picture Earnie scoring that goal, and I remember thinking what a great moment it was for the U.S. team."
Jonny Walker: "I was in Florida. My family and I went to most of the games in Orlando, and watched the U.S. on TV. I remember Earnie had a good near-post finish past Oscar Cordoba. When you're young, people drill into your head that you shouldn't get beat there, but it's completely different when Earnie Stewart is bearing down on you. The victory was humungous."
Landon Donovan: "I was 12 at the time. My family and I were at home in Redlands (Calif.). I didn't watch soccer a lot at the age, but I watched all of the U.S. games. I vividly remember Earnie's goal, and the ball just slipping in the near post. It was definitely an inspirational experience."
U.S. Assistant Coach Glenn Myernick: "At the time, I was the head coach of the U-18's and the assistant with the U-17's, and both teams were training that morning. We trained early so they could go to the game. I was also on the FIFA Technical Committee for the '94 World Cup, so I was sitting in the press box that day analyzing the match. When Earnie scored, I remember flying out of my seat all excited while other members of the technical committee were a bit more, shall we say, subdued. They were a little stunned at my exuberance."
Ryan Maxfield (U.S. Equipment Manager): "I was 15 and watching the game with my buddies and my dad in Vermont. We were all soccer players, and guys like Earnie inspired me to keep going. I was at dinner last night with him, and it occurred to me that I was sitting with one of the best players the U.S. ever had, and one my idols growing up. Pretty amazing."