If you’re a U.S. Men’s National Team fan, you’ve probably heard a lot about the U.S. Men’s National Team’s very last match of 1990 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, but not so much about the early stage of that process.
Paul Caligiuri’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” against Trinidad and Tobago on Nov. 19, 1989 sent the USA to its first FIFA World Cup in 40 years, but more than a year before that famous goal, the USMNT was battling with Jamaica just to get into the final round of qualifying.
Drawn against the Reggae Boyz in a two-game home-and-away playoff, the sides played to a listless 0-0 draw in Kingston on July 24, 1988. Three weeks later, Lothar Osiander’s side hosted the pivotal second leg at the quaint St. Louis Soccer Park in Fenton, Mo.
In an era after the collapse of the NASL and well before Major League Soccer, most of the U.S. team was stocked with players who made their money playing indoors. The starting XI had an average age of 24 years and 298 days, and only three players – Rick Davis (34), Mike Windischmann (16) and Kevin Crow (15) – were sitting on double-digit caps going into the match.
Playing in front of a sell-out crowd of 6,100, the USA ran to an early lead when Brian Bliss finished a cut-back pass from Peter Vermes in the 18th minute. The duo continues working together today at Sporting Kansas City where Vermes is head coach and Sporting Director, and Bliss is the club’s Technical Director and Vice President of Player Personnel.
Knowing a 1-1 draw would see them through on away goals, Jamaica was galvanized by the U.S. opener and nearly equalized before halftime when Winston Anglin cut through the back line only to see his shot saved with a desperation slide by Mike Windischmann.
After the break, Vermes frustratingly hit the bar on back-to-back attempts and the U.S. would pay the price moments later when Alton Sterling threaded his free kick past the wall, by goalkeeper David Vanole and inside the lower right post to even the score in the 54th minute.
Thirty-six minutes from elimination, the U.S. needed a response. An avalanche of goals followed.
Halftime substitute Hugo Perez earned a penalty kick in the 68th minute and cleanly sent his left-footed effort past Jamaica ‘keeper Paul Campbell. 2-1
In the 76th minute, second-half substitute Bruce Murray headed on to Frank Klopas in the box, where the Chicago Sting product brought the ball down hit a right-footed blast inside the left post for his first international goal. 3-1
Two minutes later, Murray setup another goal when he dribbled to the endline on the left and lofted a cross to the unmarked Paul Krumpe who headed home inside the six. 4-1
While the result was no longer in doubt, the U.S. grabbed one more goal before the final whistle.
Krumpe sent a ball forward which got beyond the last Jamaica defender and found his former Chicago Sting teammate Klopas one-on-one with Campbell. Taking it on his right to pull Campbell further out, Klopas cut back to his left and finished into the empty net. 5-1
The result booked the USMNT’s ticket to the 1989 Concacaf Championship, which served as qualification for the 1990 FIFA World Cup. In an era where it was rare for the USMNT to score more than two goals in any match, the 5-1 result also served as the USMNT’s largest margin of victory since a 6-2 World Cup Qualifying win against Bermuda on Nov. 2, 1968 in Kansas City.
The support at St. Louis Soccer Park earned the stadium the opportunity to host two more qualifiers for the ’90 World Cup, including an important 1-0 victory against Costa Rica the following April.
The game also marked the end of a few USMNT tenures. It was the last match for Osiander, who when he wasn’t guiding the National Team served as the maître d' at a restaurant in San Francisco. Osiander was replaced by Bob Gansler the following January, but did continue as the U.S. “B” National Team and Olympic head coach through the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona.
It was also the final international match for Davis. One of the few American stars of the NASL, at 29 the former New York Cosmos midfielder was the oldest player on the field that day and ended his international career with 35 caps – a USMNT record at the time.
Eight of the 13 players that featured in the match would go on to make the final U.S. roster at Italia ’90, while Klopas and Perez would later take part in the 1994 FIFA World Cup on home soil.
Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Jamaica
Date: August 13, 1988
Competition: 1990 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Preliminary Round
Venue: St. Louis Soccer Park; Fenton, Mo.
USA – Brian Bliss (Peter Vermes) 18th minute
JAM – Alton Sterling 54
USA – Hugo Perez (penalty) 68
USA – Frank Klopas (Bruce Murray) 76
USA – Paul Krumpe (Frank Klopas) 78
USA – Frank Klopas (Paul Krumpe) 85
USA: David Vanole; Steve Trittschuh, Mike Windischmann (Hugo Perez 46'), Kevin Crow, Desmond Armstrong; Paul Krumpe, Rick Davis (capt.), Brian Bliss, Jim Gabarra (Bruce Murray 64'), Frank Klopas, Peter Vermes
Head Coach: Lothar Osiander
JAM: Paul Campbell, Barrington Gaynor, Frederick Thompson, Dave Brooks, Anthony Corbett, Carl Grant, Winston Anglin, Alton Sterling, Ramon Christian, Michael Tulloch, Dennis Hudson (Paul Newman 46’, Peter Cargill 55’)
Head Coach: Geoffrey Maxwell
JAM – Michael Tulloch (caution) 29th minute
USA – Paul Krumpe (caution) 62
USA – Steve Trittschuh (caution) 67
JAM – Winston Anglin (caution) 81
JAM – Carl Grant (caution) 90
Referee: David Brummitt (Canada)