Commentary

World Cup Retro 1994: Five names to have at your fingertips

Here are five names to have at your fingertips about the 15th World Cup, hosted by the USA and won by Brazil.

Silverdome. Some soccer purists around the world objected to a World Cup in a country without a great soccer history -- a nation that didn’t even have a national pro league. U.S. media, on the other hand, wrote much about the violent soccer fans they expected. But it was a peaceful, friendly festival. More than 3.5 million attended the 52 games -- 1 million more than the previous best-attended World Cup and still a record today, even though the last four World Cups had 64 games. The host played its first game, a 1-1 tie over Switzerland, at the Pontiac Silverdome, on natural grass crated in for the first World Cup game played in an indoor stadium.

Oleg Salenko. Russia exited in the first round but Oleg Salenko shared the Golden Shoe with Bulgaria Hristo Stoichkov on six goals. Five of Salenko’s goals came in a record-setting performance in Russia’s 6-1 win over Cameroon. Another record was set in that game as Roger Milla, 42, became the oldest player to score a World Cup goal.

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Previous Editions of "Five Names":
Uruguay 1930 | Italy 1934 | France 1938Brazil 1950 |
Switzerland 1954 | Sweden 1958 | Chile 1962 | England 1966 | Mexico 1970 | West Germany 1974 | Argentina 1978 | Spain 1982 | Mexico 1986 | Italy 1990

Earnie Stewart. The USA had not reached the second round of a World Cup since 1930. It faced pre-tournament favorite Colombia in its second game at the Rose Bowl in front of 93,000 fans. In the 35th minute, John Harkes hit a low cross that Andres Escobar stabbed into his own net. Early in the second half, Alexi Lalas smacked the ball into the Colombia net but the AR raised his flag for offside, although TV replays proved he had been onside. In the 52nd minute, Tab Ramos sent a perfect pass for a streaking Earnie Stewart to finish for the decider of a 2-1 victory. Colombia midfielder Gabriel Gomez was kept out of the game after receiving death threats and Escobar was murdered outside a Medellin nightclub upon his return to Colombia.

Romario. Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira dropped Romario, whom he considered undisciplined, before qualifying play but brought him back for the decider against Uruguay, against which Romario scored twice in the final 20 minutes to keep Brazil’s streak alive as the only team reach every World Cup. At USA 1994, Romario paired up front with Bebeto and they scored four and three goals, respectively, as Brazil reached the final in quest of a record fourth World Cup title. On the way, Brazil eliminated the USA with a 1-0 round of 16 victory on the Fourth of July. Romario now serves in Brazil’s congress.

Carlos Alberto Parreira. Italy reached the final thanks to Roberto Baggio’s heroics. But the final was a dour ending to a good tournament – the goal average jumped back to up to 2.71 after 2.2 in 1990 -- with Brazil winning on PKs after a 0-0 tie. Baggio sent his penalty kick high over the crossbar. Brazil was deserving champion but played with much less flair than while lifting its previous three World Cup titles. “I did it my way,” said Parreira, who was on the coaching staff of Brazil’s 1970 World Cup-winning team and was head coach at World Cups in 1982 (Kuwait), 1990 (UAE), 2006 (Brazil again) and South Africa (2010). He coached MLS’s MetroStars in 1997.

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