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2001 Recap: World Cup Fever

After finishing dead last at the 1998 World Cup tournament, the upward trend of United States soccer in recent years seemed to be reversing direction. However, a new national team coach, Bruce Arena, arrived and early in the qualifying rounds for the 2002 World Cup, to be held in Japan and South Korea, things couldn't be much better.

The team went undefeated (4-0-1) in its first five games during the final round of qualifying and looked to be a lock for 2002. Injuries to four key players, Claudio Reyna, Brian McBride, Josh Wolff and Clint Mathis and perhaps some overconfidence led to three straight losses and all of a sudden, finishing in the top three in the CONCACAF standings and qualifying suddenly seemed seriously suspect.

Then a funny thing happened on their way to elimination. The team gathered themselves and won a key game against Jamaica at Foxboro Stadium outside Boston on October 7 and with a little help from Costa Rica and the previously winless Trinidad & Tobago were able to qualify the same day.

Meanwhile, in Major League Soccer the San Jose Earthquakes and Los Angeles Galaxy met in the 2001 MLS Cup at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. It was an overtime thriller and San Jose, the team with the worst record in the league a year ago, went from zero to hero when Earthquakes forward Dwayne DeRosario scored in the game's 96th minute.

The WUSA (Women's United Soccer Association) debuted in 2001 with an eight-team league stocked with the world's best female players. The Bay Area CyberRays, led by U.S. national team stars Tisha Venturini and Brandi Chastain, beat the Atlanta Beat on penalty kicks following a 3-3 regulation tie in the inaugural league championship game.


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