In 1994, he was the youngest member of the U.S. World Cup Team and didn't get a chance to play due to a hamstring injury. Four years later in France, he had to carry the burden of the team's success at just 24 years old and had a tournament he'd just as soon forget. But in Korea/Japan, he put together a terrific performance in which he showed the world the player we've all known he can be. Now a three-time World Cup veteran at the age of 28 (he turns 29 on July 20), who better than veteran U.S. midfielder and captain Claudio Reyna to recall his five personal highlights (in chronological order) at the 2002 World Cup.
1) The DMZ: "It was fascinating to me to visit the last place in the world where East meets West in a truly tense situation. We traveled to Camp Bonifas in a Chinook helicopter, which is certainly a unique experience. Led by the base commander, Colonel Miller, we got an amazing tour and a fascinating history lesson. It's the best thing I've ever done on a national team trip outside the field."
2) Beating Portugal: "Even though I didn’t play, it was so exciting just being on the bench during the game. To be with the team, feeling the rush of scoring three goals in the first half and then battling for the win was incredible. To get three points, especially because of everyone's predictions, was exciting for our team and a great lift for the tournament. We surprised a lot of people, and more importantly, deserved the result."
3) Playing against a nation: "Stepping out of the locker room in Daegu and getting swallowed in a sea of red was a pretty electrifying moment. Earning a point in that match was much more challenging than people understand. We went in knowing how tough an opponent Korea would be, and playing in that type of atmosphere -- essentially against an entire nation -- adds tremendous pressure. The team we put on the field didn't have much experience, so it was that much more gratifying that we played with so much maturity. If you look at the other teams Korea beat in the tournament, it shows that result was as good as a win for us."
4) USA 2, Mexico 0: "A highlight for obvious reasons. Certainly no one in the world expected us to get to the quarterfinals, so it was extra special to have our rivals as the road block. We turned in an outstanding team performance. Beating Mexico is always special, but doing so in a match of that significance is unique. Our goal was to get to the second round, and on the ride back we began to understand that we had made it to the last eight of the World Cup. It was a great celebration on the bus. We knew we'd accomplished something great for us and for soccer in the United States. We could have gone out and played the next day; we just wanted to keep going. The win has to rank as the top moment in my career, and for a lot of other guys, as well."
5) Family and Friends: "One of the things that made this tournament so special was how close our family and friends were, both physically and emotionally. To have their support, and to see them enjoying the experience certainly made it special for players. They were our main fans during the World Cup. We could feel their support during the matches, and their pride and excitement when we would get back to the hotel. To have the opportunity to share these moments with them was extremely gratifying. We appreciated what they did for us."
Table of Contents
1) Armchair Midfielder (Lasting Images of Korea/Japan 2002)
2) Word Association (w/ WNT midfielder Lorrie Fair)
3) Reyna Reminisces (w/ MNT midfielder Claudio Reyna)
4) Queries and Anecdotes (w/ WNT/U-21 WNT defender Cat Reddick)
5) The Long Road Back (w/ U-21 WNT defender Nandi Pryce)
6) Superstar!! (w/ MNT defender Tony Sanneh)
7) Mark That Calendar (U.S. WNT vs. Norway -- July 21, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN)
8) "You Don't Know Jack (Marshall)" (NEW World Cup trivia)
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