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US Upsets Portugal in World Cup Match - 2002-06-05

The U.S. Soccer team upset Portugal, 3-2, in their opening Group D match in South Korea.

With two of the top players - midfielder and playmaking captain Claudio Reyna and forward Clint Mathis sidelined with injuries - U.S. coach Bruce Arena started five defenders and only one forward.

But the Americans did not lay back. In fact, they got on the scoreboard in just the fourth minute, as the lone forward, Brian McBride, headed a corner kick that bounced off the goalie to midfielder John O'Brien who kicked it in.

"I was thinking goal. I saw so much of the back of the net at that point," he said. "The ball was bouncing in front of me and I was looking at the back of the net and I didn't think there was any way I could miss that one."

After having his fourth minute header blocked, McBride was not denied later, scoring on a diving header off a high cross from defender Tony Sanneh that put the USA up 3-0.

"It was just a situation were Tony got free out wide. And I took a step to the near post, got free and he served an incredible ball in, and I had to do was nod it in. It was just an incredible ball (crossing pass)," he said.

Earlier, the Americans' second tally was an own goal off Portuguese defender Jorge Costa.

Beto scored for Portugal six minutes before the half to cut the U.S. lead to 3-1. An own goal by U.S. defender Jeff Agoos came midway through the second half, and that concluded the scoring.

Bruce Arena was asked afterward if the Americans' 3-2 victory over Portugal was their best since he's been head coach.

"You know, we've played a lot of good teams in the world over the last four years and beat good teams. We've beaten Germany a couple times, we've beaten Argentina. We've played great teams like Germany in Germany, Italy in Italy, Ireland in Ireland. So this isn't the first time our players have been in a big game," said Arena. "We have a lot of experience. We trained very well for this game and had a lot of confidence when we came into this game. And really, we played to win the game, not just to participate."

While the U.S. Soccer team celebrated its 3-2 upset victory, losing Portuguese coach Antonio Oliveira, speaking through an interpreter, was left wondering what went wrong.

"We had some chances to score that for one reason or the other the ball didn't go into the goal. I have to compliment all my players. They did 100 percent of what they could do tonight," he said. "I also have to compliment the team of the United States. They performed very well. They did a job. And we still have now two matches to play. We are going to let the team recover physically and psychologically and look ahead to the next two matches."

Portugal will next take on Poland, which lost its opener Tuesday to World Cup co-host South Korea. The United States will play South Korea. Those matches are on Monday.