Jarrett Campbell (Creative Commons)
It's 2002 and the U.S. is the joke of world soccer as they get ready to take on mighty Portugal.
Pregame: It's those plucky Americans and a team many are picking as a dark horse to win the whole shebang, Portugal. But I don't think the Americans were plucky at this point yet. More just a team you roll over.
Pregame: South Korea, the hosts, have already beaten Poland, meaning a loss for either of the U.S. or Portugal teams leaves them a long ways back if they want to make it out of the group stage.
Pregame: Referee Byron Moreno from Ecuador looks like he's ready to teach 10th grade math. Fun fact! Moreno was arrested two years ago for trying to smuggle more than 10 pounds of heroin in his underwear through JFK Airport.
Pregame: Guus Hiddink gets a massive cheer from the South Koreans in attendance when they show him on the video board, having just beaten Poland to begin the World Cup. Eventually, the Koreans would make it to the semifinals and Hiddink would have a stadium named after him. I doubt that the Russians think as fondly of him.
Pregame: A USA chant before the kick off? Why don't I remember that? Could it be that I was 13 years old and it was 3 am?
Here's the starting XI for Portugal:
---Rio Jorge----Jorge Costa-----Couto----------Beto----
Here's the USA's starting XI:
1st minute: It doesn't take long for the Portuguese to get some possession, but it comes in the center of the field as the Portuguese try to get clever entering the final third and an organized American defense snuffs it out.
2nd minute: I've got the BBC broadcast of the match and it took them a whole two minutes to note the youth of Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley. Man, I feel old. This comes as the USA defense goes with their money move -- boot the ball up field with no regard for its direction. Drinking game! Drink every time a US defender has time and just lets it fly up field.
3rd minute: Brian McBride draws a foul 40 yards from goal as he goes up for a header. This just feels...right.
4th minute: GOAL USA! The free kick earned by McBride turns into a corner kick and Earnie Stewart plays it in, where it's headed on goal by McBride. It's saved, but falls to John O'Brien who makes no mistake with it as he blasts it in. Uh oh, the heavy favorites are in trouble and how do they respond to the goal? By staring and yelling at each other, obviously. Amazingly, they are concerned with the corner kick and not hacking away 40 yards from goal to give away the initial foul. I have a sneaking suspicion that this tournament won't go well for them.
6th minute: Donovan and Beasley combine well to draw a free kick from 23 yards out. Beasley is playing well for Puebla right now, at least when judged on the simple fact that he's playing. What a long road Run DMB has traveled since 2002, much of it downhill.
7th minute: Stewart plays a good ball in from the free kick Beasley drew, but Baia makes a hash of it, unnecessarily punching it when it could have been caught as no American makes a run. It's punched off of Donovan's foot and a foot wide of the post. That is some stellar goalkeeper right there. This Portugal team has a run in them. I believe.
9th minute: We are informed by the announcers that the referee, Moreno, is a law student, but he is having issues maintaining order here. Moreno decides that the wall on needs to be about six yards back on a free kick and then on the kick, he gives the Yanks a kick because...well, because he said so. Yes, teacher.
11th minute: Figo gets another crack at a free kick, this time from about 40 yards out and angled. The ball is a good one, but headed harmlessly wide. Playing balls in is much easier without a pig's head on the field.
12th minute: Hejduk gives it a boot...drink!
13th minute: O'Brien plays a ball clear across the field, but nobody is coming forward into space there. A fantastic idea, but no one on this team, or on any U.S. team since, has the ability to read the action the way O'Brien does.
14th minute: Here is the first real Portuguese attack as Pauleta is found alone from eight yards, but a last second challenge from Eddie Pope forces Pauleta to put it wide. The Americans are going the other way quickly and a ball over the top sends Beasley in, but Baia is off his line by about 25 yards to get to it before Beasley. Beating Beasley seemed so much more impressive a decade ago.
15th minute: Beasley continues to be a pest, this time darting in with the ball and drawing a free kick from 40 yards out, again in the same spot as the Americans got in the third minute. Stewart does a poor job with the kick, but the Americans had only two men forward so it was doubtful the ball mattered anyways.
16th minute: This match is so old that none of the Bourne movies had been released when it was played,
17th minute: For all the criticism the Portuguese caught for this underwhelming World Cup performance, you just credit them for being ahead of their time. They were diving and going down like they were hit by a sniper as a team long before it was fashionable.
18th minute: Baia is spending a lot of time running in circles like he doesn't know where he's supposed to be. It's too bad Antonio Oliveira didn't have an in-form keeper like Ricardo and had to play Baia instead. Wait a minute...
19th minute: Hejduk with another boot...drink!
20th minute: It was so kind of Portugal to let Freidel finish up his crossword in the first 20 minutes.
21st minute: Donovan wastes a chance from 18 yards out, but he has a clear chance at goal as two Portugal defenders just watch. It's nice to know they're working as hard as I am.
22nd minute: BBC announcers say Pope plays in the Major Soccer League. It's amazing how many leagues come about so quickly.
23rd minute: Pauleta's next headed attempt from eight yards out goes a couple yards wide of the post. He is to headers what Chad Barrett is to everything.
24th minute: What would Bob Marley have said about Hejduk's short, bleached blonde hair?
25th minute: Friedel is indeed playing in this match. He comes out to the six-yard box to calmly collect a long ball. At least he's not sleeping.
28th minute: Beasley gets the ball right in the center of the field and runs right at the Portuguese defense. Jurgen Klinsmann would probably sub him off for such direct, attacking play.
29th minute: GOAL USA! It's Landon Donovan with a cross that clips the back of Jorge Costa and finds its way into the net. As someone who was never very good, I think that I would know best here -- it is better to be lucky than good. It took 29 minutes for the US to score more goals in the '02 Cup than they scored in the entire '98 Cup, although if Bruce Arena tried a 3-6-1 versus Portugal, the US would have at least four by now.
31st minute: It's a Portugal attack! A few stopovers lead to nothing and the U.S. isn't troubled. I think Eddie Johnson was a Portugal fan in '02.
35th minute: John O Brien would have only been 32 at the last World Cup. 2006 should have his glory year. Never forget.
36th minute: GOAL USA! Brian McBridge's gorgeous diving header has the U.S. 3-0 up! What? Is this serious? Is Ashton Kutcher going to pop out of midfield and yell "PUNK'D"? What is life?
37th minute: Did EA Sports really think that they could make Chumbawumba the theme song for World Cup '98, get rid of it for '02 and the game wouldn't be 73% worse?
39th minute: GOAL PORTUGAL! A Portugal corner is poorly cleared and ends up on Beto's right foot, eight yards away. In related news, Chris Brown smokes weed.
41st minute: Drink. The U.S. defense didn't boot it, but only because they whiffed on their attempted boot. That's two drinks.
42nd minute: The Americans' defending would make Toronto FC blush right now and there is a look of terror on their faces. Someone should explain to them that three is more than one.
44th minute: Portugal plays their fourth cross into the box since their goal, none of which made it on frame. The U.S. should not make it to halftime still ahead 3-1, but Robbie Findley is playing striker for Portugal.
45th minute: A graphic informs us that Portugal has had 54% of possession, which is thanks to 98% of possession in the last eight minutes.
45+1: The U.S. has resorted to five-year-old soccer where everyone runs to the ball. It's much cuter when kids do it.
45+1: A shot from 20 yards out beats Friedel, but misses the far post by inches. Stomach, meet throat. Throat, meet stomach. You two are going to get very familiar in the next 45 minutes.
45+2: Drink! It's Pope this time.
Halftime: The US could have been ahead by four or five at the 36th minute, but Portugal should have also made it 3-2 easily in the final few of the half.
Halftime: Cobi Jones is the only substitute for either side as he comes on for Stewart and makes us realize how far the Americans' hair game has plummeted in the last decade.
46th minute: A boot, drink.
48th minute: McBride draws yet another foul. Let's see what Alexi Lalas thinks of Brian McBride.
50th minute: When this match was played there was no such thing as Drake, just Jimmy Brooks. It was a simpler, better time.
53rd minute: Jeff Agoos tries his best Roberto Carlos impression and it was truly the best he could do...five yards over the bar on a rocket.
54th minute: What should have been a 3v1 break for the U.S. comes to a screeching halt. because of an unnecessary three touches then back pass. What's up, Jose Torres?
55th minute: Donovan is clear past the defense chasing down a good ball over the top, but Baia is there to head it away 22 yards off his line. Not sure how so many people could have overlooked the cement-footed Portugal defenders prior to the World Cup.
56th minute: A Portugal corner is poorly marked by the US and Rui Costa has a chance to turn and fire from three yards out, but Friedel gets off his line quickly and forces Costa wide. Friedel is so aerodynamic.
59th minute: Portugal gets a chance from 30 yards out and it has to go to Figo, right? Wrong. Figo doesn't take the kick, it goes well over the bar and Kobe just said, "nah, I want Robert Sacre to get the last shot".
62nd minute: A cross is played perfectly onto the head of a Portuguese player five yards away from goal, but he heads it backwards. Yes, backwards. I guess I'm not as uniquely talented as I thought.
63rd minute: Figo unlocks the US defense with a beautiful through ball, but his teammate takes a dreadful touch and Friedel gets off his line to grab the ball. Portugal just missed two golden chances. Might the U.S. actually win?
64th minute: Another perfect cross by Portugal has the US scrambling and they resort to...you guessed it, a boot with no one around. Drink.
65th minute: Fernando Torres' hair is undoubtedly homage to the early 2000's. The long, stringy and always wet-looking hair was all the rage at this World Cup. He may not know where the goal is anymore, but the man sure knows his hair history.
67th minute: The U.S. has now played this far into a match and Pablo Mastroeni hasn't committed a foul that even sniffs of a yellow card. What did the U.S. sacrifice to the soccer gods on this day?
68th minute: Nobody within ten yards of him, but Agoos goes with the boot. Drink.
69th minute: Agoos plays the ball to the guys in red. Unfortunately, his guys are in white. Luckily, Findley is still playing for Portugal.
70th minute: The US plays an offside trap to perfection, but the flag stays down. Luckily, Friedel got off his line to force a shot wide. They show the assistant referee, who responds with a shrug. It truly inspires confidence.
71st minute: GOAL PORTUGAL! He's messed up which team is which and now Agoos struggled with that which goal is which thing. A cross is played in that should have been played out of touch without problem, but Agoos puts the ball perfectly into the corner of the net. It's an own goal as Agoos' disastrous half continues. The US lead is only 3-2 now and all of America is having nightmares. The 49 people awake watching the match are, as are the rest who are sleeping (and at this point, it looks like the smarter decision as it can only get worse now).
73rd minute: Portugal makes their second change as Jorge Andrade comes on for Jorge Costa. As a defender comes on for a defender, it's worth noting that Antonio Oliveira hasn't managed since this tournament. Shocking, ain't it?
75th minute: Agoos is out of position again, but Superman, er, Sanneh, is there to clear the ball away.
76 minute: Beasley went quiet for a while, which is to be expected when his team spends 25 minutes trying to figure out what passing it, but he gets the ball on the run here and draws another foul. Beasley and McBride have several assault complaints to file with the authorities.
78th minute: The US gives away another free kick, this one from near the corner, but it is well cleared by Sanneh. Yes, I am reviving a man crush.
80th minute: Each side makes their final substitution. Pope is hurt so he comes off for Carlos Llmosa and Portugal brings on Nuno Gomes for Rui Costa.
82nd minute: Baia was so often called upon early on, but he hasn't been asked to make a save in ages. At this point, even an English keeper couldn't catch any flack for what he's doing now.
84th minute: Joao Pinto plays a cross that doesn't come within ten yards of anyone on either team. Apparently Robbie Findley is actually Joao Pinto.
85th minute: Sanneh with some style. Running back to the corner to pick up a missed long ball and with pressure behind him, he flicks it back up over his head and the Portuguese player. Oh, you fancy, huh?
86th minute: In this edition of how old do you feel, when this match was played Lifehouse's "Hanging by a Moment" was the number one song in the country.
88th minute: McBride draws another foul for good measure. Somewhere, Daniele De Rossi is starting four years of push ups.
89th minute: Now that they can see the finish line, the Yanks are showing the organization and calm that put them ahead in the first 35 minutes. None of the eight-year-old AYSO soccer that nearly doomed them earlier this half.
90th minute: Portugal break from their own end and Jones is five yards behind the ball, but he shows he still has some of that blistering speed and he makes a tremendous tackle. It's the little things. Well, it's two little things: 1) the tackle 2) the hair. Two minutes of extra time.
90+1: Donovan draws a foul near the corner flag and it's touched, then taken to the corner by Sanneh, who holds it for a bit and draws a throw. All Tony Sanneh everything.
90+2: Portugal can't get possession as they continue to play long balls, but the whole bigger, taller, jump higher thing that the U.S. has is making it ineffective. Fun fact: Kanye West wrote a song about this moment.
USA WINS, 3-2! That's the match and the US bench clears onto the field to celebrate a win nobody expected...except for me of course. Yes, that's my story and I'm sticking by it.
Beasley was absolutely sensational all match long. This team also had Jones, in case you forgot what a team with wide players looks like.
Let's revisit John O'Brien one more time. The guy is 34 years old now so maybe it would have been a little too late, but in 2006 and 2010? That vision and touch was downright hawt.
Remember when the rest of the country woke up this morning and when you told them the U.S won a World Cup match against Portugal they gave you a dirty look? Congrats on being the first hipster.