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  • Writer's pictureKurtis Tatkenhorst

June 22- U.S Beats Columbia in the 1994 World Cup

1994- On this day in Sports History, the United States beat Columbia 2-1 for their first FIFA World Cup win in 44 years. The 1994 World Cup was hosted by the U.S and this game was at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California. It was the first time that the U.S hosted the World Cup and it was the U.S’s first win in the World Cup since 1950.

The U.S and Columbia game was the second game in group stage play. Columbia entered the World Cup tournament as one of the favorites to win the whole tournament. Many soccer experts picked them to make a long run in the tournament. Meanwhile, the U.S hadn’t won a World Cup game since 1950 and currently did not have a professional league in the country. The U.S didn’t even qualify for the World Cup from 1954-1986 and the North American Soccer League folded in 1984. Although the U.S experienced some success leading up to the World Cup, (including a 2-0 win over England in 1993) Columbia was the heavily favored team heading into the game.

The first goal of the game for the U.S was actually an unlucky own-goal by Columbia. A U.S player crossed the ball into Columbia’s box when Andres Escobar slid to intercept it, but ended up kicking it past his own goalkeeper and into the goal. The next goal was scored by the US as Ernie Stewart scored in the 52nd minute to make the score 2-0. Columbia was able to score one goal in the 90th minute, but failed to come back as the U.S won 2-1. It was their first World Cup win in 44 years and they were able to celebrate with their own fans in California.

The U.S would finish the group stage with a 2-1 win over Columbia, a 1-1 draw against Switzerland, and a 1-0 loss to Romania. The 1-1-1 record got the U.S out of Group Stage and into the Round of 16. The U.S ended up losing to Brazil 1-0 in the Round of 16 to knock them out of the tournament. Brazil went on to defeat Italy in the World Cup Final to win the Championship.

Although the win over Columbia was a great moment at the time for United States soccer, it took a tragic turn once Columbia returned home. Columbia went 1-2 in group stage play which knocked them out of the tournament. With high expectations entering the tournament, they returned very disappointed to a chaotic country that was struggling with drug trafficking and the cartels. Tragically, on July 2nd, Andres Escobar was murdered in Columbia. Ten days after the U.S game, he was killed. The widespread belief is that it was revenge for his inadvertent own-goal and the gambling losses that the drug-dealers lost from Columbia’s poor showing in the tournament. The murder of the Columbia player severely darkened the mood for the rest of the tournament that was still going on.

The win over Columbia on this day in 1994 was very important for the sport of soccer in the United States. Not only was it the first World Cup win in 44 years, but the 1994 World Cup also greatly increased public support for the sport in the future.

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June 2, 20167:05PM EDTDave ZeitlinContributorFollow@ DaveZeitlin. “US Win over Colombia in 1994 World Cup Announced That ‘We're Here to Stay.’”, MLS, 3 June 2016

Halloran, John D. “World Cups Revisited: The Story of USA 1994.” Bleacher Report, Bleacher Report, 3 Oct. 2017

AP. “WORLD CUP: Escobar Murdered after Colombia's Exit in 1994.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 22 May 2018

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