By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

Yeah, I already know what your first question is with this story.

Why is there a picture of Michael with a dog in his lap next to his press credential?

Well, there is a good reason. When they asked for photos for the 2005 Concacaf Gold Cup press credentials, I sent in the best one I had of myself. It just so happened to be of me and my Cocker Spaniel Jennie. We had our picture taken Paumanok Veterinary Hospital. I had used it as my main photo on many pass credentials for years and every time Jennie was cropped out and my face dominated the photo.

That this, until 2005.

When I got my tournament credentials at the media tent at Foxborough Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. I could not help but notice that you could hardly see my face. The entire photo was used with Jennie sitting on my lap. I brought that up to the attention of one of the officials there, fearing I would not be allowed into the stadium.

They thought otherwise and even got a good laugh about it.

Did not have a problem entering the season.

The U.S. advanced to the semifinals at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. and I joked about bringing my dog along since she was in the picture, even if her name wasn’t anywhere to be found.

Of course, I didn’t.

Jennie would have stolen the show in the press box she was so cute.

Oh yeah. As for the game, the semifinal turned out to be a classic. In one of the most memorable finishes in competition 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.

That ejection knocked Arena out of the final. Assistant coach Glenn (Mooch) Myernick ran the show in the championship match.

That encounter turned out to be anti-climactic as it was a scoreless tie between a hungry Panama squad and the U.S. for 120 minutes. Goalkeeper Kasey Keller saved one of four penalty kicks and then MetroStars midfielder Brad Davis converted the game-winner for a 3-1 shootout victory.

As for Jennie, she was a rescue dog I got in Kansas City, Mo. in 2001 from Save Our Strays rescue, which is still operated by Connie Guthrie and her husband David (When I flew in to pick up Jennie, David and I talked about one of our boyhood heroes, Mickey Mantle, who had come from Oklahoma). It was worth the trip in so many ways.

Jennie knew she was lucky to have a permanent home and was one of the sweetest creatures that I had even known. Then again, I knew I was fortunate to have her in my life. She lived to the ripe old age of 17 years, two days.

When I think about the 2005 Gold Cup, I remember the USA’s great semifinal comeback, a giant letdown in the final, despite a victory, and of course, when Jennie the Cocker Spaniel found her way onto a press credential.