The United States men’s national team will have something to prove this summer at the CONCACAF Gold Cup that runs from July 7 – July 26. The Stars and Stripes slumped to a disappointing 4 place finish at the 2015 Gold Cup, the worst showing since 2000, and are eager to show they are the region’s top team.
Head coach Bruce Arena will use a mix of veteran and less experienced players during the tournament. The former LA Galaxy head coach is a genius at getting the most out of his players and team and will be evaluating them not only for this tournament but also for upcoming CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers and potentially for a spot in Russia at next summer’s FIFA World Cup.
The USMNT have won 5 CONCACAF Gold Cup titles (1991, 2002, 2005, 2007, and 2013) since the tournament was first held in 1991. The tournament has provided a stage on which heroes, both likely and unlikely, emerged for the Red, White, and Blue. WorldSoccerShop.com looks at 5 great USMNT Gold Cup matches and the players that rose to the occasion and the jersey the team wore.
USA vs Brazil – 1998 Gold Cup Semi-final
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
February 19, 1998
It is hard to imagine today a USMNT vs Brazil match drawing only 12,298 fans but that was the case back in 1998. Brazil, the FIFA World Cup holders, brought their senior team as they prepared for the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France but were stymied by the host nation and goalkeeper Kasey Keller in the semifinal.
Brazil’s lethal goalscorer, Romario, got up and shook Keller’s hand during the match after a big save and said after the match, ‘That is the best performance by a goalkeeper I have ever seen.’
Keller was the difference in the match but it was Preki that was the difference on the scoreboard. The Kansas City Wizards forward came on for Roy Wegerle in the 60th minute and found the back of the net 5 minutes later.
The team notched the historic victory wearing the 1995-98 Home Jersey (remember when official jerseys didn’t come out every year). It was the first jersey provided by Nike. The baggy white jersey featured a wide horizontal stripe across the chest created with a wide navy blue stripe in the center with narrow white and red stripes above and below with a break for the player number. The jersey included 2 unusual features (by today’s standards). The navy and red stripes went around the entire jersey with red number over the back and the Nike swoosh was 2 colors – navy with a red outline. The jersey was completed with a navy blue polo collar and navy blue sleeve cuffs. The US Soccer crest was over the heart and Nike Swoosh on the left chest.
USA vs Mexico – 1991 Gold Cup Semi-final
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
July 5, 1991
Despite the US qualifying for their first FIFA World Cup in forty years in 1990, Mexico was the most dominant team in the CONCACAF region. The Stars and Stripes had only beaten El Tricolores in 2 of the previous 25 meetings and never in the last 11 years.
After a scoreless first half, the unlikely John Doyle stepped up to score the opening goal. The defender was in the right position to ‘just pass (the ball) into the goal’ after Marcelo Balboa headed down a Hugo Perez free kick in the 48th minute. Peter Vermes added an insurance goal in the 64th minute with a well-struck left footed shot.
The game was huge in changing the attitude against Mexico.
“[The] Mexico [semifinal] was a little bit of a turning point with U.S. Soccer in that we felt like, ‘Oh yeah, we can win against Mexico,” forward Ted Eck told MLS.com. “’We can score goals against them. We can be better than them.’”
The US outlasted Honduras in penalty kicks in the final after the game ended 0-0.
The USMNT wore their 1991/92 away jersey in the semi-final and final. The blue jersey featured 3 large white color blocks over the right shoulder and sleeve with a white collar. The jersey featured the old round USSF crest on the right chest while the adidas logo was under the collar. The jersey did not include a front number for the Gold Cup.
USA vs Mexico – 2007 Gold Cup Final
June 24, 2007
Surprisingly in their 5 Gold Cup titles, the USMNT has only defeated Mexico on one occasion in the final and that came in 2007. In a come-from-behind effort capped off with a cracker from Benny Feilhaber, Bob Bradley’s side took home the 2-1 win. It was the 3rd Gold Cup title in the previous 3 tournaments and earned the USMNT a berth at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup (the US made the final of the Confederations Cup).
The team wore the 2006 home jersey in the final as well as every game during the tournament. The jersey had a distinct look from anything in recent memory. The white jersey featured a red/blue vertical stripe off set on the left side of the jersey. The kit sock had a complimentary look on the outside of the sock.
USA vs Panama – 2013 Gold Cup Final
July 28, 2013
After only 42 seconds on the field, Brek Shea tapped in the winner in the 1-0 win over Panama that earned the USMNT their 5th and most recent Gold Cup title. The match restored the Red, White, and Blue as the top team in the region after losing the previous 2 Gold Cup finals to rival Mexico. It was the first trophy under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and earned the USMNT a spot in the 2015 CONCACAF Cup.
Klinsmann’s side wore the 2012/13 away jersey in the match. The blue jersey had white sleeves and a red, white, and blue collar. A subtle darker blue sash ran from the right shoulder to left waist in tribute to the look the USA wore when they defeated England at the 1950 FIFA World Cup.
National team kit manager Jesse Bignami was given the added task when preparing the team jerseys to include the match detail inscription – CONCACAF Gold Cup Final, USA vs Panama, July 28, 2013 – in white lettering on the chest in between the Nike Swoosh and USSF crest. It was the first time this was done in a Gold Cup final.
USA vs Costa Rica – 2002 Gold Cup Final
February 2, 2002
With the 2002 FIFA World Cup looming, the USMNT took care of their business in their home region to defeat Costa Rica 2-0 and claim their 2nd Gold Cup title and first in 11 years. Josh Wolff and Jeff Agoos scored on either side of halftime to give the Bruce Arena’s side a comfortable win.
The USMNT wore their 2000/01 home jersey in the match. The jersey was solid white and featured an over-sized blue/red subtle v-neck collar and sleeve cuffs. The USSF crest was over the heart and Nike swoosh over the right chest.
What is your most memorable USMNT CONCACAF Gold Cup match? What is your favorite jersey from the tournament? Leave your comments below.