The US encountered Germany for a friendly early in 1999, just the third game of Bruce Arena’s tenure.  The scars from the 1998 World Cup hadn’t fully healed, and a rematch with one of its group stage opponents promised a stern test for the US.

Or so we thought.  The US starting lineup featured just four players from the ’98 roster.  Among the new players was Jovan Kirovski.  Despite earning his first cap in 1994, Kirovski wasn’t even an alternate for the 1998 World Cup.  Here, he played a withdrawn attacking role, with Brian McBride leading the frontline and Cobi Jones attacking wide right.  Claudio Reyna and Chris Armas rounded out the central midfield, and Eddie Lewis and Tony Sanneh patrolled the left and right flanks.

In the 15th minute, Kirovski heads a Germany goal kick straight up at midfield.  Germany wins the result, but Chris Armas displays excellent closing quickness and timing.  He makes a clean tackle from behind, and nudges the ball to an onrushing Jeff Agoos.  Agoos dribbles 10 yards with no pressure, and distributes to Kirovski on the left wing.  Kirovski is 45 yards from goal, but with an obscene amount of space.  With Agoos, McBride, and Jones making runs in the box, Kirovski engages a defender and attacks 1 v.1.  The three-touch set-up is straight off the training ground, but the finish is from a video game: Kirovski unleashes a perfectly placed shot to the far upper right corner.

The goal was the first in the Arena era, and Sanneh and Reyna added two others in an electric first half.  The 3-0 win provided the US with a sense of optimism for the future.  The US would beat Germany again at the Confederations Cup that summer.

 

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