- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Claudio Reyna, Josh Wolff and Brian McBride the trio who scored America's first goal in yesterday's World Cup upset of Mexico are not yet as famous as the old double-play combo for the Chicago Cubs, but maybe they soon will be. In the eighth minute of the game, team captain Reyna made a neat crossing pass to Wolff near the goal. Wolff flicked the ball back to McBride, who slammed it into the right side of the net. And the U.S. team calling them underdogs is a considerable understatement was on its way to the final eight. The attitude of the disappointed Mexican team seemed to be, "How dare they?" The Mexicans were bad sports about the loss and walked off the field without following World Cup tradition of shaking hands and swapping shirts with the opponent. We not only dared, our team played a great game and were as surprised as anyone at the outcome.

Landon Donovan, who scored the U.S. team's second goal said, "When I got back to the locker room, I said, 'This is really weird.' It's like it's not happening. It's a dream." But Donovan wasn't dreaming in the game's 65th minute when he headed a pass from Eddie Lewis past the Mexican goalkeeper for America's second goal. Although Mexico controlled the ball through most of the game, it just couldn't get anything past U.S. goalkeeper Brad Freidel who had his first World Cup shutout.

For most Americans, soccer is still something of a mystery with rules about as understandable as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Smiling moms and dads who wear "Headers Don't Cause Dain Bramage" T-shirts speak an alien language. And until the fall television lineup includes "Monday Night Soccer" it will probably stay that way. Whatever the American soccer team is doing on the field, however, it seems to be working, and when they get the respect they deserve, it surprises even the players.

When the American team reached the locker room at the end of the game, the players were told the president was calling. According to Donovan, "We were thinking which president?" When they found out it was President Bush, the guys thought it was "awesome." What is truly awesome is the skill and heart they display on the field.

Next on the agenda is the Friday game against Germany, and the Germans are heavy favorites to win. Unflappable American coach Bruce Arena knows what his guys will be up against on Friday. "We understand that they are the overwhelming favorite," he said. "On paper, it looks to be no match. However, we don't play this game on paper." Good point, coach. Go get 'em, guys.

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