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Category: Archive

U.S. Cup: traditionally a U.S. and Mexico affair

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Jay Mwamba

Launched in 1992, to promote the 1994 World Cup finals, which were hosted in the United States, the Nike Cup has over the years developed into a U.S.-Mexico affair, with the two neighbors winning five of the previous six tournaments between them.

Germany are the only European team to have won the Cup, a feat they achieved in 1993 when they topped a star-studded field comprising Brazil, England and the U.S.

Ireland, then under the tutelage of Jack Charlton, made their debut in the inaugural competition seven years ago after failing to reach Euro ’92. Current boss Mick McCarthy was member of that squad and scored the Republic’s only goal in a 3-1 loss to Team USA in the opener in Washington, D.C.

Ireland finished second from the bottom that year after a second loss, 2-0, against Italy, and a victory by the same margin over Portugal. The United States went on to lift the Cup after edging Portugal 1-0 and tying 1-1 with Italy in Chicago.

The 1993 edition remains memorable for the dramatic action and goals it produced. The Germans: Matthaus, Klinsmann, Moeller and all, were at the center of it, splitting points with Brazil in a six-goal thriller in D.C., holding off the U.S. 4-3 with a Klinsmann hat-trick after nearly blowing a 3-0 lead, and edging old foes England 2-1 to win it all. England, embarrassed 2-0 by the Americans earlier, finished last.

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The 1995 Cup belonged to the U.S. from the get-go when they twice came from behind to stun Nigeria’s talented by mercurial Super Eagles 3-2 at Foxboro.

Claudio Reyna and friends then demolished Mexico 4-0 in Washington to ice it.

McCarthy returned to the U.S. Cup in 1996, but as coach this time. Tempers flared in his young side’s first game, a 2-1 loss to the U.S. at Foxboro, and Ireland were unlucky not to pip Mexico in New Jersey three nights later. The match ended in a 2-2 draw, which was enough to earn the Republic second place after a 3-0 blitz of Bolivia.

Mexico posted the first of their three tournament victories in 1996 following a 2-2 tie with the U.S. that attracted 92,216 fans at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

The Mexicans were easy winners in 1997, knocking off Denmark (3-1) and the U.S. (2-0), and chalking up a goalless tie with Peru. Team USA completed a nightmarish tournament, in which they went 0-3, with a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Denmark.

The round-robin format of the tournament was dispensed with in 1999, but the outcome was the same. Faced with somewhat weak opposition, Mexico dispatched both Bolivia and the U.S. 2-1 to retain the Cup.

It’s back to the round-robin format this year for United States Soccer Federation’s most prestigious annual men’s event.

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