USA-Bolivia: Three Tidbits of History

With nearly 700 official matches in the books against 97 different opponents since the U.S. Men’s National Team first started playing in 1916, the MNT has accumulated a rich history of dramatic results, intriguing story lines and interesting anecdotes.

Ahead of match on May 28, here are Three Tidbits of History related to Bolivia.

A Visit From VEEP – Feb 18. 1994

In the lead-up to hosting the 1994 FIFA World Cup, the U.S. Men’s National Team played a number of friendly tournaments to give the side - who was essentially a club team at the time -  as many competitive matches as possible. One of these tournaments was the “Joe Robbie Cup” named after the former Miami Dolphins owner, whose namesake stadium also played host to the two-day, double-header competition.

Against Bolivia in their opening match Feb. 18, 1994, U.S. goalkeeper Tony Meola make five saves while Cobi Jones tallied his fifth international goal to cancel out future D.C. United legend Jaime Moreno’s strike for La Verde in the 1-1 draw.

Just as the match served as a warmup for the MNT ahead of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, it was also a test ground for Vice President Al Gore to engage some soccer protocol, with the country’s second in command attending the game before greeting U.S. players in the locker room following the match.

Five months later, it would be Gore who handed the World Cup trophy off to Dunga when Brazil defeated Italy on penalty kicks to claim the 1994 title.

Bolivia Opens 1994 FIFA World Cup in Chicago – June 17, 1994 

Question: What was Bolivia’s reward for qualifying for its first World Cup since 1950?

Answer: An opening match against the reigning world champions.

With the formidable home field advantage of the nearly 12,000 feet of altitude in the capital city of La Paz combined with a young, talented squad, Bolivia mostly steam-rolling through CONMEBOL’s qualification process. La Verde earned its place at the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 44 years, but the draw held the previous December in Las Vegas set them up with the daunting task of playing the tournament’s opening game against 1990 World Cup champions Germany.

Playing in front of 63,117 fans at Soldier Field in Chicago, - also home to the U.S. Soccer Federation – a mostly conservative Bolivia side showed well for themselves but were undone by a serious error from goalkeeper Carlos Trucco, leading to future MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann scoring the game’s only goal in the 61st minute.

Notably, future D.C. United players Moreno and Marco Etcheverry subbed into the match as Bolivia looked for an equalizer, but the cameo from “El Diablo” was especially short-lived. Having entered in the 79th minute, Etcheverry lasted just four more minutes on the field when he was shown a red card for kicking German captain Lothar Matthäus.

Christian Pulisic Scores First International Goal – May 28, 2016

One of many milestones in Christian Pulisic’s young career came against Bolivia, exactly two years to the day that the teams will meet at Talen Energy Stadium this time around.

Just two months after making his debut and in turn becoming the youngest MNT player to appear in a World Cup Qualifying match, the 17-year-old was named to the USA’s Copa America Centenario roster. Making his third senior team appearance in the team’s final preparation match against Bolivia, Pulisic needed only six minutes after entering for Gyasi Zardes, taking a pass from Darlington Nagbe before slotting past goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra in the 69th minute.

With the strike, Pulisic, who was aged 17 years, 253 days, became the youngest player to register a goal in the modern era of the U.S. Men’s National Team.