In this section we take you back to an significant national team game you may not have seen, or just need a refresher. We provide you with a short video recap, the game report and some interesting tidbits on the match.
Have you ever wondered when exactly the U.S. joined the world's soccer playing fraternity? The first time our team went out and played great soccer and scored goals and made a strong team tremble at the site of us? Some people say our 1-0 upset over England in the 1950 World Cup. (But a 40-year World Cup drought following that game eliminates it from consideration.) Others say it was 1994 and our advancement to the Round of 16 at the World Cup or possibly the 1-0 win against Mexico on the eve of the '94 Cup. Well, think again. It was actually two years earlier. It was a rainy, cold night in Washington D.C., and the U.S. was about to thump a European opponent with sublime skills and great goals for the first time. It was a night to remember. A night that arguably gave the USA their first real steps as a "player" on the world soccer stage.
The Match Breakdown:
“Americans get rude awakening from Ireland.”
That was the headline on April 30, 1992, in The Boston Globe after the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 4-1 loss to Ireland a day earlier at Lansdowne Road in Dublin. The article stated that Ireland was “truly in another class” and the U.S. was “overwhelmed,” while Ireland manager Jack Charlton called the result, “about right.” Simply put, the soccer-infant USA didn’t have a chance to beat an experienced team such as Ireland.
Fast-forward a month later. The U.S. is once again facing Ireland, but this time on home soil in the opening game of the inaugural U.S. Cup ’92. Despite rainy conditions, more than 35,000 umbrella-wielding and poncho-wearing fans filtered into RFK Stadium with the hopes of witnessing an upset. But, with both teams yielding similar lineups and the U.S. confidence possibly shaken after their tumultuous meeting 30 days earlier, upending Ireland was an unlikely outcome.
The Match Result:
The U.S. was anything but overwhelmed as they erased a one-goal deficit in the second half with strikes from Marcelo Balboa, Tab Ramos and John Harkes for a 3-1 victory.
From the opening kickoff, the U.S. pushed into the attack and didn’t back away from the physical play that dominated the first half. In his first cap for the U.S. MNT, central defender Thomas Dooley played exceptionally well and had the best chance in the first half, but his attempt from inside the box was well-saved by Irish goalkeeper Gerry Peyton.
Similar to their last meeting, the U.S. and Ireland headed into the locker room in a scoreless draw before Ireland took the lead early in the second half. In the 53rd minute, Mike McCarthy headed home a Steven Staunton cross over the outstretched arms of Tony Meola.
Instead of caving like they did in Dublin, the U.S. bounced back a minute later when Balboa finished from close range. Hugo Perez sent in a free kick from the left flank to John Doyle, who laid the ball back to an onrushing Balboa for the easy finish past Peyton.
The U.S. took the lead for good in the 70th minute when Fernando Clavijo served in a ball across the box and Ramos uncorked a tremendous one-timer from 20 yards out.
The final tally of the night came in the 87th minute from some individual magic by Roy Wegerle, the much-heralded addition to the U.S. team getting the first cap of his career when he came on at halftime. Dribbling left to right along the 18-yard box, Wegerle hit a nifty back-heel pass that found Dooley inside the box and he touched the ball past Peyton towards the right post where a streaking Harkes finished off the impressive sequence.
The Match Significance:
While the victory over Ireland helped the U.S. MNT take home the inaugural U.S. Cup championship trophy (the U.S. went on to defeat Portugal, 1-0, and draw Italy, 1-1), it did much more than just give them a piece of metal to put up in Soccer House.
In a way, the victory was the next step towards joining the big boys in the world of soccer. They weren’t invited into the club just yet, but they weren’t being laughed at anymore either. Well, not as much at least, and definitely not by the Irish.
Knowing they could play with – and even possibly beat – the best teams in the world, meant everything to a U.S. team that was just two years away from hosting all those big boys during the ’94 World Cup. Two years may seem like a long time, but in terms of preparing a national team, that can go by in a flash, especially when there’s the fear of becoming the first host not to advance out of their group.
Defeating Ireland gave the U.S. players the confidence that they wouldn’t be out of the ’94 World Cup faster than a fat kid in dodge ball. In the end, May 30, 1992, no doubt had an effect on U.S. 2-Colombia 1, on July 22, 1994.
Match Quick Hits:
• This was the fourth meeting between the two countries, with Ireland holding a 3-0-1 advantage over the U.S. The only result the U.S. took from those first four games was a 1-1 draw on June 1, 1991, in Foxboro, Mass. Eric Wynalda scored the lone U.S. goal
• To get a another perspective on how much of an upset the match was across the world, when the first FIFA World Rankings came out just over a year later, the U.S. was ranked 28th, while Ireland was sixth
• The three goal scorers – Marcelo Balboa, Tab Ramos and John Harkes – were all inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005. Fernando Clavijo, who came on as a reserve and had the assist on Ramos’ goal, was also inducted that year as a Veteran
• For those who didn’t catch it above, the match marked the international debuts for both Thomas Dooley (starter) and Roy Wegerle (halftime substitute)
• Dooley, born of an American father and German mother, was 30 years old at the time and received his American passport to become officially eligible to play for the U.S.
• Wegerle was born in Pretoria, South Africa, but played college soccer at the University of South Florida and gained his U.S. citizenship in 1991
• Wegerle, 28, was a soccer star in England and declared his intention to join the U.S. team just a week before their match against Ireland. A month earlier he was transferred from Queens Park Rangers of the first division to Blackburn Rovers of the second division for $1.8 million
• Wegerle scored his first goal in his second cap – and first-ever start – four days later on June 3 against Portugal
• Kasey Keller was on the bench for this game and did not see action as a backup to Tony Meola. At this point in his career, Keller had just eight caps and zero shutouts
• If Keller had played, he would have gone up against his club manager at Millwall in the English Football League. Mike McCarthy, who scored Ireland’s lone goal, was a player-manager at Millwall at the time
• Earnie Stewart collected just his fourth cap when he came in for Hugo Perez in the 53rd minute
• Chris Henderson came on to start the second half, but got injured in the 59th minute and was replaced by Clavijo
• U.S. Manager Bora Multinovic was in his second year at the helm, while Jack Charlton was leading Ireland for his eighth year
• Bruce Murray was the USA’s leading cap-winner at the time, earning his 70th appearance against Ireland, 17 ahead of the next active player, Balboa. He was also the all-time leading scorer for the U.S. with 17 goals
• Six of the U.S. players on the roster were playing in Europe at the time – Earnie Stewart (Willem II) was in the Netherlands; Roy Wegerle (Blackburn Rovers) was in England; Tab Ramos and Peter Vermes (Figueras) were in Spain and Thomas Dooley (FC Kaiserslautern) and Paul Caligiuri (FC Freiburg) were in Germany
• Ireland’s Roy Keane had just five caps and zero goals after starting against the U.S. At the time, he was playing with Nottingham Forrest, but in 1993 he transferred to Manchester United for a then-record of 3.75 million pounds
• Ireland’s previous match was a 2-0 victory over Albania in a 1994 World Cup qualifier
- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report -
Participants: USA vs. Ireland
Competition: U.S. Cup ‘92
Location: RFK Stadium; Washington, D.C.
Date: May 30, 1992
Weather: Cool and rainy
1 2 F
USA 0 3 3
IRE 0 1 1
IRE – Mike McCarthy (Steve Staunton) 53rd minute
USA – Marcelo Balboa (John Doyle) 54.
USA – Tab Ramos (Fernando Clavijo) 70.
USA – John Harkes (Thomas Dooley) 87.
USA: 1-Tony Meola; 17-Marcelo Balboa, 3-John Doyle, 5-Thomas Dooley, 20-Paul Caligiuri; 14-Brian Quinn, 6-John Harkes, 9-Tab Ramos (2-Janusz Michallik, 79), 7-Hugo Perez (12-Earnie Stewart, 53), 4-Bruce Murray (22-Roy Wegerle, 46), 10-Peter Vermes (19-Chris Henderson ; 21-Fernando Clavijo, 59)
Subs not used: 8-Dominic Kinnear, 13-Marc Chung, 15-Desmond Armstrong, 18-Kasey Keller.
Head Coach: Bora Mulutinovic
IRL: Gerry Peyton; Kevin Moran, Chris Morris (Denis Irwin, 78), Mike McCarthy, Terry Phelan; Ray Houghton, Roy Keane (Alan McLoughlin, 78), Paul McGrath, Andy Townsend, Steve Staunton (****Coyne, 60), Niall Quinn.
Subs not used: N/A
Head Coach: Jack Charlton