U.S. Soccer

#USMNT Social Sphere: 30 Seconds to Marching On

The goal was simple: Win and we’re in. Sitting atop the Group of Death one point back of Germany, the #USMNT had the chance to be the first team in the Group G to secure its ticket to the round of 16.

If you thought the buzz over the Ghana game was intense, the #USAvPOR match was extreme. Fans all over the country and in Brazil flocked to support @ussoccer. Once again, celebrities and fans alike showed colossal support.

While fans took over the twittersphere (getting @ussoccer 1 million followers) showing love and support for the #USMNT, the fans below flocked to numerous watch parties across the United States and Brazil wearing the familiar red, white and blue.

Portugal got out of the gate early with a quick goal from Nani, but the USA was able to settle down and control the game. Their efforts merited a payoff, and they got one…

Midfielder Jermaine Jones scored his first ever World Cup goal to tie the game at 1-1; and what a goal it was. The #USMNT kept up the pressure, knowing a win would put them through to the Round of 16. Attack after attack finally led to a familiar sight…

The captain’s go ahead goal seemed to put the nail in the proverbial coffin of the No. 4 ranked team in the tournament and 2013 Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo. But five minutes into stoppage time, Ronaldo sent a cross into the box that was met by the head of teammate Varela.

The irony for the final match against Germany on Thursday is as deep and heavily laid out as the lunchroom sloppy joe meat at the typical public school. The German that helped West Germany secure the World Cup in 1990 now leads the pack of hungry Americans against them, with the possibility of knocking them out of the tournament.

"I ended up face down on the floor, but I'm pretty sure #Ronaldo killed my cat. #usmnt #usavpor."

However, the result is not something the team has time to dwell on. A long flight back from Manaus to the team camp in São Paulo and then another long flight to Recife doesn’t give the team much time before its final group stage match against Germany on Thursday. The team still has to train and make adjustments to ensure it’s one of the two teams going through.

Captain Claudio Recalls the Greatest 'Dos a Cero' of All

Originally published on October 7, 2015.

The U.S. Men’s National Team rode a shock opening win against fourth-ranked Portugal, a draw against the host Korea Republic and a little help from the goalposts to advance to the Round of 16 at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Finishing second in the group meant that the MNT would have less than three full days rest to turn around and face regional rivals Mexico in the highest stakes match the two nations had ever played. With little time to prepare, in some respects the U.S. was lucky to have drawn the team with which it was most familiar.

Despite the U.S. having won four of the previous five meetings, according to U.S. captain Claudio Reyna, when the team arrived at Jeonju World Cup Stadium that June afternoon, there wasn’t much respect shown from the opposition side.

“Before the game we walked out and we were walking around the field. We had this focus and concentration as a team as you do preparing for any game,” the former team captain told ussoccer.com. “I was with Eddie Lewis, Frankie Hejduk, Gregg Berhalter and Earnie Stewart and we were ready to go – we were foaming at the mouth for this game. We looked over and the Mexicans were laughing, joking and looking at us…That was it.”

Reyna called the team over to quickly finish their pre-game pitch inspection and head back into the locker room.

“We sort of wanted the game to start, we were so ready to go,” he continued. “Back in the locker room, I remember saying, ‘These guys are laughing at us. They think they’re going to beat us easily.’”

Mexico had done efficient work to get to that point. Having finished with seven points atop a group that featured Italy, Croatia and Ecuador, El Tri’s run to the Round of 16 had the side brimming with self-assurance ahead of the match.

“They were feeling confident, but the lack of respect they showed was clear – you never do that,” said Reyna. “I would never do that in my career, even if I felt really comfortable about beating an opponent. That you’d be giggling, laughing and joking at the opponent. It was pretty clear that it was directed at us and at some of our players, and obviously we play them all the time so there’s that rivalry.”

“I remember saying, ‘We’re not losing this game guys.’ Everyone went around and you could feel it all the way through that we couldn’t wait to get out there.”

Reyna gets past Ramon Morales in the most famous "Dos a Cero" in Men's National Team history.

Injuries and suspensions limited the U.S. options, and Bruce Arena used the uncertainty to confound the Mexicans by deploying a 3-5-2 formation for the match. The switch saw Reyna move from his regular central midfield position to the right flank, with the move paying off almost immediately. Following an eighth minute foul in the Mexico half, Brian McBride quickly restarted as he saw Reyna pushing up the flank. The U.S. captain beat two defenders to the end line before centering for Josh Wolff, whose deft touch teed up McBride for a clinical finish and an equally gratifying goal celebration.

The goal set an early tone and played perfectly into Arena’s game plan, allowing the U.S. to sit in and pick its moments to counter against an increasingly frustrated Mexican side. Landon Donovan’s second- half header off an Eddie Lewis cross helped ice the game, giving the MNT its first ever World Cup knockout round win and a quarterfinal date with Germany.

“It was just a great team performance. To beat them 2-0, eliminate them and afterwards realize this was a big deal back in the States,” Reyna said.

The win raised the profile of the Men’s National Team more than any other since the 1994 FIFA World Cup, but with games played in the middle of the night back home and in an age before social media, Reyna admitted the players didn’t realize how big an impact the victory had made.

“We didn’t know how huge it was at home,” he said. “We were in Korea and we knew it was sort of growing in momentum. I remember seeing some of the news clips from Mexico City where there were people in plazas and squares crying over the result – that felt good.”

U.S. supporters celebrate during the MNT's 2-0 win against Mexico at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Though the momentum was already building towards U.S. domination of the rivalry, the World Cup win tipped the scales. Since 2000, the MNT has held a 13-6-5 advantage against El Tri.

“From that moment on, it continued to be a real domination of Mexico,” Reyna said. “We went on and beat them all the time. That was the point where we felt we were no longer playing behind them, that we were better than them.”

“It was one big coming out party on the biggest stage.” 

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MNT Oct 18, 2016