Tim Howard stop on his head and then some against Argentina in 2008. (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

HARRISON, N.J. — For the first time after 27 matches over one full century and the parts of two others, the U.S. men’s national team will host a World Cup qualifier in the metropolitan area Friday night, when the Americans welcome Costa Rica to Red Bull Arena.

For the most part, other matches included U.S. Cup games, CONCACAF Gold Cup matches and international friendlies.

This list includes a pair of international friendlies between the U.S. and Canada that was played in the 19th century, which has not been officially recognized by U.S. Soccer. Still, they were international matches.

For the record, the U.S. is 9-8-10 in games played in New York and New Jersey.

Canada 1, U.S. 0, Newark, N.J.
Nov. 28, 1885

This was the first international in U.S. Soccer history as a crowd of 2,000 watched a local all-star team lose to the Canadian national team on a grass field near East Newark. According to Tony Cirino’s book, U.S. Soccer Vs. The World, “Observers noted that ‘much skin was lost in the struggle’ ” … The New York Times reporter remarked that play had frequently disintegrated into fist fights and the referee had intervened several times to main order. Incidentally, three players came from the Kearny Rangers, not unlike the three former national team stars who are in the National Soccer Hall of Fame — Tony Meola, John Harkes and Tab Ramos — who grew up in and around Kearny.

U.S. 3, Canada 0, Newark, N.J.

Nov. 25, 1886

Another historic occasion: The U.S.’s first international win in its second try. Driving rain and strong winds could not stop the Americans as a fullback named J. Chapman scored the U.S.’s first goal. Cirino wrote the game was played in Kearny, N.J.

U.S. 6, Canada 1, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Nov. 8, 1925

This was the second left of what was supposed to be an annual series. After losing the first leg, 1-0, in Montreal, the U.S. came back strong as Archie Stark of Kearny scored three goals and Davey Brown of East Newark added two before a rain-soaked crowd of 12,000 at Ebbets Field.

U.S. 6, Canada 1, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Nov. 6, 1926

Brown hit the nets twice as did Andy Auld as only 2,000 spectators watched on a sunny day at Ebbets Field.

England 6, U.S. 3, Bronx, N.Y.

June 6, 1953

In the first encounter between the countries after the amazing 1-0 upset in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in 1950, the English prevailed before 7,271 at Yankee Stadium. The U.S. managed to pull within 4-3 before the English turned up the pace. Alf Ramsey, who guided England to its only World Cup crown in 1950, played in the match, as did Walter Bahr and Harry Keough of the U.S. Chico Chacurian, who guided the South Central Connecticut team into the Under-16 national youth final four in 1989, played forward for the U.S.

England 10, U.S. 0, New York

May 27, 1964

Ramsey, now the English coach, watched his team humiliate the U.S. squad, which was literally put together in a couple of days. Several New York area players and former U.S. national team coach Walter Chyzowych performed for the U.S. at Downing Stadium on Randall’s Island.

U.S. 3, Israel 3, New York

Sept. 15, 1968

Not much is known about this game, but some of the names might be familiar: defender Bob Gansler, who coached the U.S. national team at the 1990 World Cup, Willy Roy, a scoring terror in the early days of modern U.S. professional soccer, who scored a goal at Yankee Stadium. Both are in the National Soccer Hall of fame.

France 6, U.S. 0, East Rutherford, N.J.

May 2, 1979

It wwas no contest as the French, one of the 16 countries that played in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, rolled into a 4-0 halftime advantage behind three goals by Bernard Lacome and an own goal.

U.S. 0, Italy 0, East Rutherford, N.J.

May 30, 1984

Even though it was a scoreless draw, the result was hailed as a victory for the Americans because they had tied the World Cups in the rain before a crowd of 31,210 at Giants Stadium. “They’re very aggressive and play well under these conditions,” Italian coach Enzo Bearzot said. “They’re a very organized team. They have a future. They’re very good players.”

U.S. 0, Ecuador 0, Hempstead, N.Y.

Nov. 30, 1984

Defender Mike Windischmann, who captained the U.S. team at Italia ’90, made his national team debut. U.S. coach Alkis Panagoulias could suit up only six professional players and six “experienced” amateurs in the game played before an SRO crowd of 10,000 at Hofstra Stadium.

U.S. 3, Peru 0, East Rutherford, N.J.

June 4, 1989

How often does the U.S. enjoy a 3-0 halftime lead? Heck, how often does it score three goals in a game? Tab Ramos, Bruce Murray and Brian Bliss scored in the friendly between these two World Cup qualifiers before a crowd of 33,133 at Giants Stadium.

U.S. 1, Malta 0, Piscataway, N.J.

May 5, 1990

In one of the final warm-up games before it departed for 1990 World Cup in Italy, the USA managed to get past a team that never reached the World Cup. Eric Wynalda’s seventh-minute goal saved blushes for the hosts before 8,604 spectators. “Finishing is something of a mystery to us,” U.S. coach Bob Gansler said. “We do not do it in exquisite manner.”

U.S. 0, Ukraine 0, Piscataway, N.J.

June 27, 1992

This game started a run of three consecutive nil-nil results at Rutgers University as 11,815 spectators watched the match. Mike Masters, who went on to star for the Long Island Rough Riders, made his first and only international appearance, playing in the final 31 minutes.

U.S. 0, Saudi Arabia 0, Piscataway, N.J.

May 25, 1994

The highlight of this World Cup warmup match before their USA ’94 opener vs. Switzerland was a 23-minute rain delay in the second half, caused by lightning near Yurcak Field. A crowd of 5,576, the smallest to watch the American men in the metro area in modern times, attended the game. The U.S. defense was shaky, forced goalkeeper Tony Meola to make two spectacular saves. “When I think of Switzerland, I think of cheese and our defense,” said Hank Steinbrecher, then the executive director of U.S. Soccer. “The analogy is there.”

U.S. 0, Colombia 0, Piscataway, N.J.

June 25, 1995

A scoreless draw was not only good for a victory but a championship as well as the Americans won the U.S. Cup before 35,126 at Rutgers Stadium. The hero of the match was defender Mike Burns, who headed a Hernan Gaviria header off the goal line while guarding one of the posts, to preserve the tie. “He was the last one in the locker room,” U.S. midfielder John Harkes told the New York Times. “We thought he was still out there, hugging the post. Burnsy was in great position.”

U.S. 3, Mexico 0, East Rutherford, N.J.

June 11, 2000

Buoyed by goals from Brian McBride, Frankie Hejduk and Ante Razov, the U.S. recorded a 3-0 victory over Mexico before a crowd of 45,008 at Giants Stadium.

U.S. 5, Jamaica 0, East Rutherford, N.J.

May 16, 2002

Bruce Arena became the winningest coach in U.S. men’s national team history (31), surpassing the mark he held with Bora Milutinovic. Josh Wolff scored two goals and added an assist and Landon Donovan contributed a goal and an assist in this World Cup warm-up match in front of 30,659.

U.S. 2, Honduras 1, East Rutherford, N.J.

July 21, 2005

In one of the most memorable finishes in CONCACAF Gold Cup history, the Americans struck twice late to clinch a place in the final. Mario Ivan Guerrero (30th minute) had given Honduras a first-half lead, but John O’Brien (86th minute) equalized and defender Oguchi Onyewu (two minutes into stoppage time)) headed home a free kick in stoppage time to complete the comeback. U.S. head coach Bruce Arena was dismissed in the 59th minute for his verbal interaction with a referee as 41,721 watched at Giants Stadium.

U.S. 0, Panama 0, (U.S. wins PKs, 3-1) East Rutherford, N.J.

July 23, 2005

With assistant coach Glenn Myernick running the show due to Arena’s one-game suspension, the USA prevailed over Los Canaleros in penalty kicks as goalkeeper Kasey Keller starred in the shootout. Former MetroStars midfielder Brad Davis converted the game-winning PK in front of 31,028.

U.S. 0, Argentina 0, East Rutherford, N.J.

June 8, 2008

Tim Howard’s heroics in one of the most memorable performances by a U.S. national team goalkeeper helped the Americans to a scoreless tie with top-ranked Argentina in an international friendly at Giants Stadium as 78,682 watched. Howard, who played with the MetroStars from 1998-2003, was credited with seven saves, some of them spectacular.

Mexico 5, U.S. 0, East Rutherford, N.J.

July 26, 2009

At around 5 p.m. Sunday at Giants Stadium, referee Courtney Campbell blew his whistle to mercifully end one of the most embarrassing results in recent U.S. national team history. Mexico 5, U.S. 0 — in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final. The Americans offered no excuses. They got pounded, embarrassed and punished, allowing a stunning five second-half goals on their home turf before a soccer-record crowd of 79,156 at Giants Stadium July 26, 2009. The win was significant for several reasons. It was the worst American home loss since a 5-0 defeat to England in L.A. in 1985. It was the first Mexican win on U.S. soil since a 2-1 result in San Diego March 13, 1999, snapping a 9-0-2 American domination.

Brazil 2, U.S. 0, East Rutherford, N.J.

Aug. 10, 2010

In the first match for both sides since the end of the 2010 World Cup, the Brazilians record a 2-0 win before 77,223 at the New Meadowlands Stadium. Neymar gave the South Americans all the scoring they needed in the 29th minute and Pato doubled the score a minute into first-half stoppage time.

U.S. 1, Argentina 1, East Rutherford, N.J.

March 26, 2011

Juan Agudelo, then with the Red Bulls, scored in the 59th minute, as the United States rallied for a surprising 1-1 tie against Argentina and Lionel Messi in a high-profile exhibition game in front of 78,936 spectators. Esteban Cambiasso put fourth-ranked Argentina ahead in the 42nd minute after Messi’s run to the endline. Messi passed through the legs of U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra. Angel Di Maria’s shot was stopped by goalkeeper Tim Howard but Cambiasso scored on the rebound.

Ecuador 1, U.S. 0, Harrison, N.J.

Oct. 11, 2011


A defensive lapse in the 79th minute doomed the hosts in front of 23,735 at Red Bull Arena. Forward Jaime Ayovi took advantage of it to score the lone goal in this international friendly.

U.S. 2, Turkey 1, Harrison, N.J.

June 1, 2014

Fabian Johnson and Clint Dempsey scored goals as the U.S. recorded its second win in as many World Cup warm-up matches en route to a 2-1 victory at Red Bull Arena Sunday afternoon before an RBA crowd of 26,672.

Costa Rica 1, U.S. 0, Harrison, N.J.

Oct. 13, 2015

In its final warm-up match before the start of 2018 World Cup qualifying, the Americans lost to the Central Americans, 1-0, before a lackluster crowd of 9,214 at Red Bulls Arena. Forward Joel Campbell tallied the long goal in the 70th minute, to secure the Ticos’ second successive win over the USA. The Americans were scheduled to meet St. Vincent and the Grenadines in their first WCQ that Nov. 13.









Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Guardian.com. Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of BigAppleSoccer.com. He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at Amazon.com.