World Cup Memories: Awkward excitement – Brian McBride-Claudio Reyna flying hug in 2002

Just 10 days remain until the World Cup is underway in Brazil and all 32 countries are dreaming of a deep run. But only a handful will actually get to experience it.

The USA were one of those countries in 2002, advancing all the way to the quarterfinals. And one player who helped the Americans get there, ex-MLS forward Brian McBride, shares his favorite memory from that World Cup:

It would have to be the moment we knew that we were going to the quarterfinals. Winning that game against Mexico [in the Round of 16], it didn't matter who it was against, but it was just the fact that we were actually going to the quarterfinals as one of the best teams in the world.

I definitely remember that feeling: crazy excited and overjoyed. So much so, the Mexico game was the first time I tried to jump into someone's arms [after scoring a goal in the eighth minute]. Claudio [Reyna, US captain] was trying to jump into my arms at the same time. If you watch the video, it was awkward. But that's the feeling you get.

It was an amazing feeling. We still knew we had a ton of work to do [to defend the lead] and we were playing a Mexico team that was very good on the ball. But we knew we were going to be prepared to defend for our lives.

Thinking about making the quarterfinals after '98 was nowhere near the forefront of my mind. For us, the main thing had been Portugal [in our opening group-stage victory] and something that Bruce [Arena] talked about every time we were in camp. The first thing Bruce would say when we got together as a group for the first time: "We can beat Portugal." That's what everybody thought. And that's where it started.

Do you remember the flying hug between McBride and Reyna? What was your single favorite moment from that 2002 World Cup run? Let us know in the comments section below.


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