By Michael Lewis
It is a game that is not even listed as an official game in the U.S. men’s national team media guide:
U.S. 2, Sheffield Wednesday 0
Yet, it is a game that I never will forget.
As then newly named head coach Bora Milutinovic started to prepare the USMNT for the 1994 World Cup, he was willing to take on all comers and why not Sheffield Wednesday of England, which had been promoted to the old English first division (equivalent to today’s Premier League). The team also included U.S. international midfielder John Harkes.
The USA recorded a 2-0 victory in front of 44,261 in the Philadelphia Cup at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia on Aug. 2, 1991.
What I remember most about the match was the debut of a long-time soccer writer as a soccer analyst at halftime: me.
Florian Kempf, who played for the Philadelphia Fury (NASL) and kicked for the Houston Oilers (NFL) was broadcasting the match on radio and he was the play-by-play man.
Veteran Philadelphia sportswriter-copy editor Frank Bertucci worked the scoreless first half as the color man while I replaced him for the final half.
I was fortunate because the USMNT tallied both its goals during my 45 minutes of fame as Hugo Perez played an important role on each. In the 52nd minute, he flicked a pass to Murray, who fired a low 15-yard shot for a 1-0 edge. I talked about the inclusion of Brian Quinn to the midfield and how his work ethic and grittiness would help the Americans keep the lead. I mentioned that a second time.
And guess what? Quinn did me one better, connecting for the insurance goal on the hour as he powered a Perez pass from 30 yards for a two-goal advantage. It turned out to be Quinn’s first and only international goal, one that he probably never would forget.
Ditto for yours truly. I always have been grateful to Quinn for making sound like a genius.
So, on this holiday weekend, a big thank you to you, Brian.
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An interesting foot note about Harkes’ US homecoming:
With about five minutes remaining in the first half, Milutinovic had made up his mind: “Good, good,” he told assistant coach John Kowalski. “We have another player.”
Ironically, he was talking about a player on the opposing team, Harkes.
Harkes admitted “it was a bit strange” to play against the team for which he forged a reputation during World Cup qualifying and Italia ’90.
His stay in England had made him more disciplined. “He has learned to play positionally,” Kowalski said. “He’s not overdoing it. He definitely can add more to the team.”