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



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.


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



Recent Soccer America Site
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, ...
GAMES: Live and same-day delay on national TV    
MLS WEEKEND WRAPUP: Twellman strikes again; L.A. wins 'Clasico'    
CHAMPIONS: Goal difference gives PSV Dutch title    
FABIEN BARTHEZ: French great bolts after assault    
MLS PREVIEW: Monday Night 'Rocky Mountain Cup'    
MEXICO: Pachuca leads six into quarterfinals    
>> Soccer America Site Archives