The all-time World Cup

April 12th 2005
Pasadena, Rose Bowl
3-2 (2-0)

      GOALS                    4'  1-0  Hugo Sanchez
                              31'  2-0  Cuauhtemoc Blanco
                              62'  3-0  Hugo Sanchez (penalty)
                              69'  3-1  Clint Mathis
                              85'  3-2  Miguel Espaņa (own goal)

      REFEREE                 Ivan Eklind (Sweden)

      ATTENDANCE              99,000

      YELLOW CARDS            Blanco, Ambriz (MEX) - Dooley (USA)

      MEXICO (Coach: Velibor Milutinovic, system 4-3-3)

       1 Antonio Carbajal
      15 Miguel Espaņa
       5 Gustavo Pena (captain)
       6 Ramon Jesus Ramirez
      20 Tomas Boy
       4 Ignacio Marcos Ambriz
       8 Manuel Negrete             (-87)
      11 Cuauhtemoc Blanco
      10 Enrique David Borja        (-46)
       9 Hugo Sanchez

      14 Luis Hernandez             (+46)
      12 Salvador Reyes             (+87)

      UNITED STATES (Coach: Bruce Arena, system 4-3-3)
      22 James Douglas
       4 Eddie Pope
      20 Alexi Lalas
       5 Tom Dooley (captain)
       3 Paul Caligiuri
       6 John Harkes                (-77)
      13 Tab Ramos
      12 Claudio Reyna
      19 Aldo Donelli               (-46)
      15 Clint Mathis
      11 Eric Wynalda               (-46)

      10 Bert Patenaude             (+46)
       9 Joe Gaetjens               (+46)
      16 Earnest Stewart            (+77)


    Mexico had to win this match, and not only win it, but to win it with a considerable margin of at least five goals. On top of that they needed a Soviet win against Spain. Mexico succeeded in reaching the win themselves though not with the right numbers, but the Soviet Union never really made it difficult on the Spaniards and that ended Mexico's All Time World Cup. They had tried to play attractive football but opponents like Spain and Soviet Union simply had just a little more quality. That didn't apply to the US, the minnows of group A. Being beaten with 4 goals margins twice earlier in the competition, their only goal was to avoid another big defeat in front of their own people. The team had nothing more at stake this time, but that didn't stop people from coming to the Rose Bowl, which was completely sold out with almost 100,000 spectators. The 3-2 suggests that it was a tight match but it wasn't.

    Against a totally reshaped American team Mexico wanted to do business right away. Sanchez illustrated it after just 4 minutes. After a fine cross from Borja, Hugol scored with his specialism, the bycicle kick. Goalie James Douglas, standing in for Tony Meola, was too stunned to react. It gave Mexico the start they wanted. The United States couldn't do anything. They played in a totally new composition but it didn't make a better team. Defensively, with Lalas in a leading role, they did rather well but there was no bite in the front line. Wynalda was a no-show and Donelli had nothing to tell against Ramirez. Mathis was left on an island. In midfield Negrete took command without too much resistance from Harkes, Ramos and Reyna.

    Just like expected, Mexico increased their lead in the course of the first half. It had squandered quite some chances before, Douglas had saved from Sanchez, Borja and Boy. But in the 31st minute the 2-0 fell. Negrete passed it to Blanco who dazzled past Caligiuri and tapped it between Douglas' legs in the empty net: 2-0 for Mexico. At half-time Bruce Arena, the American coach, took Donelli and Wynalda off. Only Clint Mathis kept his place. Bert Patenaude and Joe Gaetjens came in but Mexico was still the dominating team. With Hernandez in place of the disappointing Borja, they gave it all to score as much as possible, to stand their chance of reaching the last 16. If the US had any ambitions left, they were shattered after an hour. Douglas in the meantime had made saves from Negrete and Hernandez, but could do nothing against a Sanchez penalty. Dooley fouled Blanco in the area, referee Eklind gave him the yellow card and the spotkick to Mexico. Sanchez easily converted: 3-0. Match over, what remained was the question whether Mexico could score enough to threaten Spain.

    Messages coming in from Paris that the Soviets had equalized, gave Mexico legitimate hopes for a stunt. They put on the pressure on the US because they needed more goals. But surprisingly enough it was the US that scored. All out of the blue, Suarez played the ball back to Carbajal but hadn't noticed Mathis standing between them, who easily rounded the goalkeeper and scored the 3-1. It closed the door for the Mexicans, they let their heads hang down and the greenwhite suffered an even bigger blow when 5 minutes from time Espaņa, under pressure from Gaetjens, put the ball in his own net. Mexico, though they had been on top most of the match, were happy now to carry the win over the finish line but it was clear that they wouldn't make it to the second stage. They needed at least a five goal margin. And most of all, a win from the Soviet Union that didn't come. In the end the final whistle from Ivan Eklind came with 3-2. America at least had regained a little pride by coming back from another big defeat and nearly grabbing a point. Mexico were out, but they weren't beaten below par.

    Next Friday the countries from group C will play their last match. Holland take on Poland in Mexico City, while at the same time Uruguay and South Korea meet in Santiago. Holland and Uruguay are the clear favourites to qualify, but if Holland fail to grab at least a draw against Poland they are most certainly out. South Korea are sure of elimination but the team will play for their consolation. Referee in Mexico City is Arnaldo Coelho from Brazil, while Uruguay-South Korea is under guidance of East-German Rudi Glöckner. No suspensions or injuries it seems, so all teams can field their best teams.


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