Football World Cup 2002: Wake-Up Call Earns US Place in History; Mexico 0 USA 2

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Walker

Motivated by a personal call from President George W Bush, the United States created their own piece of history in this remarkable World Cup.

It is the first time the Americans have reached this stage since 1930 and surely the shock of these constantly surprising finals.

They did it with a display of heart, discipline and bravery against a talented Mexican side who were slowly torn to shreds by their own frustrations and ended with skipper Rafael Marquez sent off for a late clash of heads with one-time Coventry midfielder Cobi Jones in the dying minutes.

Fulham midfielder Eddie Lewis, making his first appearance in the tournament, produced an exceptional display and then explained the impact of President Bush's morning call.

He said: 'We were all brought together in the hotel and the call was put on the loudspeakers.

'The President wished us luck, said he had just rung the president of Mexico and told him we would win, and it gave us all real boost. For him to take the time to call meant a lot to us all.'

For coach Bruce Arena, it is little short of a miracle to see the unsung Americans now in the last eight, even if the prospect of a quarter-final with three-times winners Germany in Ulsan on Friday evening is a fearful one. Arena said: 'Nobody believed in our team. We do not have the best players in the world, but we have enough good players to give anyone a game on our day.

'This is terrific for our region. It's the first time any country from CONCACAF has reached this stage when not appearing in the finals as hosts.

'Our region is underestimated throughout the world, but the performances of ourselves, Mexico and Costa Rica here should now gain us a lot more respect.

'We know it's Germany next and they have an outstanding team. We played them last March in a friendly and they soundly beat us and we know they are now overwhelming favourites.

'On paper, it looks no match but we will enjoy this result first and then get our heads together, regroup and get a game plan we hope will produce another result like this. …