Almost 31 years to the day, the U.S. men’s national team will return to St. Gallen to play Switzerland in an international friendly.
The circumstances, however, are completely different back then.
In preparation for their first World Cup appearances in 40 years, the Americans dropped a 2-1 decision to the Swiss June 2, 1990. The team then traveled to Italy.
On Sunday, the USMNT will use the match as preparation for the Concacaf Nations League Final Four. The team meets Honduras in the semifinals Thursday, June 3 and will face the winner of the Mexico-Costa Rica encounter Sunday, June 6 or in the third-place game the same day (both contests are in Denver).
The 1990 loss snapped a five-game unbeaten streak for the USA, whose next game would be its Italia 90 opener against Czechoslovakia in Florence, Italy June 10.
“What we were trying to do was rehearse,” U.S. head coach Bob Gansler told reporters afterwards. “We wanted to work on holding the lead by reinforcing our defense and making counter raids. But we gave away too much momentum.”
Forward Bruce Murray lifted the USMNT into the lead in the 22nd minute, as he slipped a John Harkes feed past Walker.
The Swiss rallied in the second half. Peter Schepull headed home a free kick in the 70th minute. Adrian Knup, who bounced a shot off the crossbar earlier in the match, tallied the game-winning goal on a solo run, beating keeper Tony Meola in the 79th minute.
“We can utilize this defeat as a motivator,” midfielder Paul Caligiuri was quoted by the Associated Press.
At least one member of the opposition wasn’t impressed, at least for 1990 – Swiss goalkeeper Philipp Walker.
“They are not a very good team,” he was quoted by wire services. “But they have good prospects for the future. The Americans play especially hard, and they give all they have to win.”