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A Look Back On the Only Two U.S. MNT vs. France Matches

CHICAGO (Oct. 14, 2011) – It’s been 32 years since the first and last time the Men’s National Team faced France. In those 32 years, both teams have been involved in several World Cups and other international tournaments. Many U.S. and French players who will play in the Nov. 11 game at Stade de France were not even born the last time the sides met. The MNT suffered two losses against Les Bleus in 1979, and now they have a chance for their first win against one of the most successful teams of the last 15 years. As the men prepare for their upcoming match in Paris next month, looks into the archives to remember the only two occasions when these sides faced off.

May 2, 1979
Stadium: Giants Stadium; East Rutherford, N.J.
Attendance: 20,591
Result: 6-0 L

U.S. lineup: Arnie Mausser (Davis Brcic); Jim Pollihan, Glenn Myernick (capt.), Don Droege, Colin Fowles (Tony Crudo); Larry Hulcer, Rick Davis, Boris Bandov (Perry Van der Beck); Angelo DiBernardo, Greg Villa, Mark Liveric (Louie Nanchoff)

With a side consisting of players who were not regular starters for their club teams and players who were unable to train because of North American Soccer League games three days prior, the U.S. MNT was at a disadvantage to a France side that contained the likes of Michel Platini (yes, that Michel Platini) and Didier Six. By the end of the first half, France was already winning 4-0. The game ended 6-0 and included a hat trick from Bernard Lacombe, the first international goal from Loïc Amisse, a tally from Six, and an own goal.

Other interesting notes:
- Former MNT assistant coach Glenn Myernick captained the U.S. and knew his team was unprepared for the challenge of meeting a team that would go on to dominate the next decade. He said this about the match: "When we played France, who was clearly one of the emerging teams in the world at that time, with Michel Platini, Didier Six, Marius Tresor, Dominique Rocheteau, we arrived two days prior to the game. But some NASL teams had games on Sunday, so they couldn't train because they were more in a recovery mode. A day before the game, we went through a practice. I remember looking at our starting 11 and going, half of the guys don't even start for the club team. It was not a good feeling, knowing who were going to play. We played poorly. It was disheartening. It really was. The players [who line up for the MNT now] don't have that feeling anymore."
- This France team reached the semifinals of the 1982 and 1986 World Cups and the 1984 Euro Championship

Oct. 10, 1979
Stadium: Parc des Princes; Paris
Attendance: 30,000
Result: 3-0 L

U.S. lineup: Arnie Mausser (Winston DuBose); Greg Makowski, Ty Keough, Steve Pecher (capt.), Doc Lawson; Tony Crudo (Perry Van der Beck), Larry Hulcer (Angelo DiBernardo), Ringer Cantillo; Boris Bandov, Greg Villa (Njego Pesa), Mark Liveric (Louie Nanchoff)

The U.S. fared slightly better against France in the return leg in Paris, keeping a clean sheet for the second half of the match. The first-half French goals came from Platini, Amisse and Roland Wagner, whose only international cap and goal came during this game. Amisse’s shot was the second he recorded against the U.S., and those were the only two international goals he scored. Platini assisted both other tallies but was substituted off shortly afterward. From then on, the U.S. dominated the game but could not produce a goal.

Other interesting notes:
- Larry Hulcer and Ty Keough both earned one of their eight caps during this match, and Keough spoke with about playing France in Paris [interview]

All-time appearances for the players who faced France in 1979:
 Name Caps/Goals 
 Boris Bandov  33/2
 Davis Brcic  4/0
 Ringer Cantillo  11/0
 Tony Crudo  7/0
 Rick Davis  35/7
 Angelo DiBernardo  20/3
 Don Droege  8/0
 Winston DuBose  14/0
 Colin Fowles  18/0
 Larry Hulcer  8/1
 Ty Keough  8/0
 Mark Liveric  16/3
 Greg Makowski  12/1
 Arnie Mausser  35/0
 Glenn Myernick  10/0
 Louie Nanchoff  10/1
 Steve Pecher  17/0
 Njego Pesa  7/0
 Jim Pollihan  15/0
 Perry Van der Beck  23/2
 Greg Villa  18/5