Last Sunday, the USA celebrated its third Gold Cup title. Its first came in 1991*. Paul Caligiuri, now men's and women's coach at Cal Poly Pomona, started every U.S. game at the 1991 Gold Cup. Three years later he started every U.S. game at the 1994 World Cup.
Interview by Mike Woitalla
SOCCER AMERICA: How important was winning the 1991 Gold Cup?
PAUL CALIGIURI:That was a turning point for us. We were not regarded as a top competitor in CONCACAF before that tournament. A year before, we lost all three games at the 1990 World Cup. But our loss to Italy, 1-0 in front of 80,000 fans in Rome, proved we could compete.
Then we come home and prove ourselves in CONCACAF. We beat five teams in the tournament, including Mexico, which we shut out. It was from then on that the United States was seen as the regional power along with Mexico.
SA: Your trailblazing European career, which included the East German double win with Hansa Rostock in 1991, began when you joined Hamburg SV in 1987. What do you think about another UCLA Bruin, Benny Feilhaber, joining HSV in 2005?
PC: I am so happy for Benny. It's a similar situation to what I was in at first -- playing for the reserves and training with the pros. But I think things will go faster for him. Maybe not as fast as he anticipates, but faster in terms of how long the people at Hamburg think it will take him to break into the first team.
SA: Why do you think Feilhaber will succeed in Germany?
PC:He'll fit in well with the German style. He plays simple. Is technically
sound. He has similarities with Claudio Reyna. He supports the play. He reads it well. The Europeans are big on how a player reads the game, his decision-making, especially where to position yourself when you don't have the ball to maximize your influence.
*U.S. lineup in the 1991 Gold Cup final, a U.S. penalty-kick tiebreaker win over Honduras after a scoreless tie:
Bruce Murray (Dominic Kinnear)
Eric Wynalda (Ted Eck)