World Cup Memories: Bruce Arena's first match? One of the biggest upsets in soccer history
There are just 29 days until the start of the 2014 World Cup and MLSsoccer.com continues its "World Cup Memories" series with a unique take from legendary US national team manager Bruce Arena, today head coach of the LA Galaxy.
The US Soccer Hall of Famer had a tough time settling on just a single World Cup moment – from Marco Tardelli's goal celebration in the 1982 final for Italy, to attending the 1986 and 1990 World Cups and then carrying his father's mass card while facing the Italians in 2006 – but he described one in just a little more detail. The first match he coached in a World Cup – a 3-2 shocker over Portugal in the 2002 group stage:
For me, personally, I think the opening game of the 2002 World Cup, to be coaching a team – well, first of all, the be coach of the United States team at the World Cup was personally a remarkable opportunity, and coming off of 2001, there was a lot of significance and attention, so I was proud to be in that position, have that opportunity. And the win over Portugal on that day was fabulous.
I just think there are different cycles for World Cups, and it's a similar cycle to the US eam. The US team went into the 2006 World Cup ranked fourth in the world, which we weren't. But if we played in 2005, when we were a year younger, we would have been a much better team.
I think Portugal in 2002 was a year [too] old. And they would have been hard to beat in 2001. In 2002, I think we caught them at the right time, and I'd say the US team in 2006, you know, we had players at the end of their international careers, and it showed on the field.
I think that Portugal were one of the best teams in the world in 2001 for sure, in that cycle when they had Figo as the World Player of the Year. They were just a year too old, I think, by the time that World Cup came around [in 2002]. That happens. We'll see it again in this World Cup.
Were you awake to watch that USA-Portugal matchup? Were you at the game? Did a victory ever cross your mind? Tell us your memories of that match in the comments section below.
WORLD CUP MEMORIES: