By Michael Lewis
While watching the Hallmark Channel’s re-imagined Rose Bowl Parade coverage this morning, I started to reminisce about my times at the Rose Bowl (even if this year’s bowl game isn’t being played in its home field).
I counted nine matches at the venerable and iconic Pasadena, Calif. stadium.
So, in between doing some reading and watching television shows, I decided to list my most memorable games at the Rose Bowl.
1. U.S. 0, China 0 (U.S. wins in penalties, 5-4) (July 10, 1999)
No goals, but so many memories in the Women’s World Cup final in front of 90,185, the largest crowd to witness a women’s sporting event. The great Michelle Akers playing to her last ounce of energy due to heat exhaustion. Kristine Lilly’s great header save of a Fan Yunijie’s seven-yard shot on the goal line in the 100th minute. And then the dramatic shootout. Brianna Scurry’s save on Liu Ailing and Brandi Chastain’s history making shootout conversion and ripping off her shot in a game that boosted the U.S. women’s national team into another orbit. In case you were wondering, Carla Overbeck, Joy Fawcett, Lilly and Hamm converted their attempts.
Brandi Chastain made history for the USWNT in 1999. (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
2. Brazil 0, Italy 0 (Brazil wins in penalties, 3-2) (July 17, 1994)
The first scoreless draw at the Rose Bowl – at the 1994 World Cup. Quite frankly, the 120-minute match was nothing to write home about as both teams, especially the tired Italians, had little to show. The game ended on an anti-climactic note when Roberto Baggio, one of the top players of the tournament, booted the final shootout attempt over the crossbar. Does anyone remember who tallied the game-winning PK? Quite frankly, I had to look it up. It was Brazilian captain Dunga.
3. Mexico 4, U.S. 2 (June 25, 2011)
The old adage says that a 2-0 advantage is the most dangerous lead and El Tri proved it in front of 93,420 spectators in the 2011 Concacaf Gold Cup final. Michael Bradley (eighth minute) and Landon Donovan (23rd minute) had given the Americans the lead but the visitors never gave up. By halftime they had equalized behind Pablo Barrera (29th minute) and Andres Guardado (36th minute) before Barrera’s second goal lifted them into a 3-2 advantage in the 50th minute. Giovani do Santos scored off a fabulous chip shot from the right corner of the penalty area over goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Michael Bradley scored against Mexico before El Tri began its comeback in 2011. (Photo courtesy of MLS)
4. Jamaica 1, Mexico 0 (July 24, 2017)
Red Bulls left back Kemar Lawrence turned into the toast of Jamaica that Sunday night as he connected on a dramatic 24-yard free kick in the 88th minute to boost the Reggae Boyz to a stunning 1-0 upset of Mexico in the semifinals at the Rose Bowl. “The best way to put it, the biblical story, David slew Goliath. It’s overwhelming,” an elated Jamaica head coach Theodore Whitmore said. “Words can’t explain it. The guys, they were hungry this afternoon. They needed it more than the Mexicans and we did what they had to do.”
Kemar Lawrence produced some magic for Jamaica in 2018. (Photo courtesys of MLS)
5. Chicago Fire 2, D.C. United 0 (Oct. 25, 1998)
In its first Major League Soccer season, the Chicago Fire pulled off a remarkable double, winning the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and MLS Cup. The latter was achieved against two-time defending champion D.C. United in a 2-0 victory. Jerzy Podbrożny tallied in thd 29th minute and Diego Gutiérrez added an insurance goal in the 45th minute. Peter Nowak was named game MVP as Chicago defensive midfielder Chris Armas continued his mastery over United’s standout midfielder Marco Etcheverry before a crowd of 51,350. It didn’t help D.C. that it had to play the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the final game of a best-of-three series on Wednesday before flying into Los Angeles for Sunday’s final. The league made sure a mid-week game would never interfere with its championship match again.
Chris Armas arguably was the defensive midfielder of his generation. (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
6. Brazil 1, Sweden 0 (July 13, 1994)
The final score hardly told the story of the World Cup semifinal. The Brazilians dominated from start to finish. In one of the most lopsided 1-0 matches in World Cup history, the South American side outshot the Swedes, 26-3, as goalkeeper Thomas Ravelli provided a heroic performance to keep his team in the match. Ravelli, however, could not deny the great Romario as the striker tallied in the 80th minute in front of 84,569.
The Rose Bowl and mountains in the background. (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
7. Romania 3, Argentina 2 (July 3, 1994)
Only days after Diego Maradona was banned from USA 94 for taking a drug cocktail, his Argentine teammates were forced to take on Romania in one of the most memorable matches of the tournament. Back and forth play went before the Romanians walked out of the sun-drenched stadium with a 3-2 triumph in front of 90,469. Forward Ilie Dumitrescu scored one goal and set up another for the European side, which grabbed a 3-1 lead. “This is the greatest moment in Romanian soccer,” coach Anghel Iordanescu said. “Perhaps this is the greatest event celebrated by the people after the revolution [in 1989].”
8. Sweden 4, Bulgaria 0 (July 16, 1994)
By the time Sweden had scored all of its goals in its 4-0 win over Bulgaria in the World Cup third-place match, the only question was whether Hristo Stoitchov would score a goal. He was tied with Russia’s Oleg Salenko with six goals apiece and he was chasing the Golden Boot Award as the top goal-scorer. He didn’t get it in front of 83,716 spectators.
9. Brazil 0, Norway 0 (Brazil wins in penalties, 5-4) (July 10, 1999)
In the sixth and sudden-death round of penalties, Formiga converted the game-winning penalty kick before Ann Kristin Aarønes missed her attempt to lift the Brazilians to the third-place victory. In the second game of the doubleheader, the U.S. and China battled to a scoreless draw and the game was decided by the same 5-4 shootout scoreline. What were the odds of that happening within hours of that at the same stadium?