- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 18, 2002

JEONJU, South Korea The players in red, white and blue ran around the field in disbelief, celebrating a stunning World Cup victory that helped bury a brutal past.
They realized that a new world order had emerged at this year's tournament, one where U.S. soccer was a force, not a farce.
The Americans continued their improbable run on the sport's greatest stage with a 2-0 victory over Mexico yesterday. That win earned them a spot against Germany in the quarterfinals, the best U.S. performance since the first World Cup in 1930.
"When I got to the locker room, I said, 'This is really weird,'" said Landon Donovan, who scored a second-half goal that sealed the victory. "It's like it's not happening. It's like a dream."
The Americans took their place alongside traditional greats Brazil, England and Germany and perhaps erased bad memories of the 1998 World Cup in France, when the United States finished last in the 32-nation field.
"There is no longer an established world in soccer," coach Bruce Arena said. "It is truly a global game now. At the end of the day, the Brazils and Germanys and Englands and Italys will be there, but the gap is closing."
Keeping awake the soccer faithful back home for the 2:30 a.m. EDT start, the Americans didn't disappoint, pulling off another of the upsets that would define this World Cup.
The final eight also will include newcomer Senegal, either Japan or Turkey, and perhaps South Korea. Defending champion France and Argentina and Portugal have been ousted.
Led by Brian McBride and the 20-year-old Donovan, who both scored off counterattacks, the United States surprised a Mexican team that once dominated their region.
It was the first World Cup meeting between the nations, and some fans back home in Mexico were crying after a loss that had been unthinkable a few hours earlier.
"It hurts us here," Jose Luis Luviano, a fan in Mexico City, said as he punched his chest. Tears melted the Mexican flags painted on his cheeks. "There has to be an end to this disgrace where [Americans] treat us like rats and idiots."
At the game, several thousand U.S. fans, decked out in red, white and blue, began taunting the Mexicans with chants of "Adios, amigos."
President Bush called the U.S. team four hours before the game to tell Arena he was confident the Americans would win.
"The country is really proud of the team," Mr. Bush said as players listened on a speakerphone. "A lot of people that don't know anything about soccer, like me, are all excited and pulling for you."
The American players, unaccustomed to attention in their own country, were surprised when they found out the president was on the phone.
"We were thinking which president?" Donovan said. "That was awesome. You could tell he genuinely cared. It wasn't like we went to him and asked. He wanted to call."
The United States plays Friday against Germany. The three-time World Cup champion pushed the Americans around during a 2-0 victory at the 1998 World Cup.
German coach Rudi Voeller said his team will be under more pressure as the favorites.
"The Americans have shown great morale here. No one believed that they would make the quarters," he said.
The U.S. victory against Mexico was right up there with its 1-0 upset of England in the 1950 World Cup. After that tournament, the Americans didn't return to soccer's showcase until 1990.
It was a shattering loss for Mexico, which spent decades beating the U.S. team. The United States was 0-21-3 against the Mexicans from 1937 to 1980, but since 1991, the Americans have gone 9-6-5.
The Mexicans walked straight off the field, not even staying for the traditional exchange of shirts. The U.S. players had the field to themselves to celebrate and contemplate how far they have come.
"Someone said to me this is the World Cup for the minnows," said U.S. Soccer Federation President Bob Contiguglia, beaming with pride. "The minnows are becoming bigger fish."

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