Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Mike Woitalla's View: Arena 2002 vs. Sampson 1998
December 20th, 2001 12AM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

Is the United States better than it was four years ago?

That's the obvious question as we speculate on whether a Bruce Arena-led U.S. team can improve upon the last American World Cup performance - the three losses compiled by Steve Sampson's 1998 squad.

In the 10-game final round of qualifying four years ago, Sampson's squad scored 17 goals, conceded 9 and finished second; Arena's men scored 11, conceded 8 and finished third.

In battling for three qualifying spots, neither team could do better than split points with its top three rivals. (Sampson's were Mexico, Jamaica and Costa Rica; Arena's were Costa Rica, Mexico and Honduras.) The Americans prevailed both times because their primary competitors faltered in other games.

Sampson's squad lost only once; Arena's team suffered a three-game losing streak. Both teams notched one road victory. Sampson's team had three home wins; Arena won four at home.

Both teams qualified with 17 points from a six-team group. In fact, comparing the two squads reveals mostly similarities.

Personnel? Same goalies. Many of the same key field players: Claudio Reyna, Jeff Agoos, Earnie Stewart, Joe-Max Moore, Eddie Pope and Cobi Jones.

Quality of play? Arena's men, like Sampson's, dominated only against the region's lesser teams.

Hope?

Sampson knew - as Arena knows - he needed a better team at the finals than he had during qualifying. Sampson gambled. He discarded some veterans, tried a new system, and failed.

But he did not have what Arena has: A group of young, skillful, attacking players who - besides being delightful to watch - may be on the verge of greatness.

Injuries have set back Josh Wolff and Clint Mathis. Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley and Bobby Convey are mere teen-agers. But if, in the next six months, two or three of them ripen into World Cup-ready players, the national team could take a long-awaited step to another level.

by Soccer America Executive Editor Mike Woitalla



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Site
Caribbean combine returns next year    
More than two dozen players from the Caribbean played in MLS this season, and teams looking ...
Saint Louis picked to repeat    
[ATLANTIC-10: Men] Defending champion Saint Louis has been picked to repeat in the Atlantic-10's preseason poll ...
UEFA Champions League viewing schedule    
[TELEVISION GUIDE] The UEFA Champions League moves into Matchday 4 with a special kickoff time of ...
Young Arsenal star suffers horrendous injury    
[ENGLAND] Arsenal teenager Aaron Ramsey, considered the greatest Welsh talent to come along since Ryan Giggs, ...
HIGHLIGHT & MAGAZINE SHOWS: A Sampling    
None
GAMES: Live and same-day delay on national TV    
None
MLS WEEKEND WRAPUP: Twellman strikes again; L.A. wins 'Clasico'    
None
CHAMPIONS: Goal difference gives PSV Dutch title    
None
FABIEN BARTHEZ: French great bolts after assault    
None
MLS PREVIEW: Monday Night 'Rocky Mountain Cup'    
None
>> Soccer America Site Archives