On this day in 2001, five players, including former captain Carlos Bocanegra, earned their first cap with the U.S. Men’s National Team in a 1-0 loss to Korea Republic at Jeju World Cup Stadium in Seogwipo, Jeju Province. Manny Lagos, Diego Gutierrez, Jeff Cunningham and Richard Mulrooney also made their team debuts in the U.S. MNT’s final match of 2001.
Bocanegra went on to play 110 matches with the U.S., including 64 as captain, prior to his retirement last year. His 14 international goals stand as the all-time record among USA defenders and 9,222 career minutes are fifth most of any player in team history. The Alta Loma, Calif., native played in two FIFA World Cups (2006, 2010), appearing in six matches. He also captured two CONCACAF Gold Cup titles in four tournaments. Domestically, Bocanegra was named the MLS Rookie of the Year during his rookie campaign with the Chicago Fire in 2000 and earned back-to-back MLS Defender of the Year honors in 2002 and 2003.
The match against South Korea took place less than six months prior to the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan, and began a streak of three consecutive World Cup appearances by the USA that were preceded by an acclimatization regimen in the host country. The U.S. would play Poland (1-0 victory on March 1, 2006) and Germany (4-1 loss on March 22, 2006) on German soil prior to the 2006 FIFA World Cup; then five matches in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup that included a 2-0 win against then No. 1-ranked Spain in the semifinal that earnedits first appearance in the final of a major FIFA tournament, a year prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The U.S. MNT also held January camp in Sao Paulo, Brazil at the base camp it would later use in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.