The time between World Cup 1990 and World Cup 1994 is an unsung one. The abridged version of US Soccer history in the early 90s: Caligiuri’s goal; valiant drubbing in Italy; America discovers soccer by hosting the World Cup.
By hosting the World Cup, though, the US found itself without a slate of competitive matches. Enter two new tournaments: the CONCACAF Gold Cup, played for the first time as a standalone competition in 1991, and the now defunct US Cup. The US pulled a scheduling coup for the inaugural round-robin tournament in 1992, inviting Ireland, Italy, and Portugal to play in the US. The US were massive underdogs in the tournament, but the field addressed the needs of coach Bora Milutinovic for more games against stronger competition.
The US opened against Ireland, then among the top 15 teams in the world. The game marked the debuts of two dual-nationals – Roy Wegerle at striker and Thomas Dooley in defense – and they combined for a clever goal in the 87th minute.
Wegerle dribbles from left to right outside the top of the box, engaging one and then three Irish defenders. Rather than play a square pass, Wegerle snaps down his right heel, and finds an onrushing Dooley at the penalty spot. Dooley, instead of shooting on goal with the keeper a yard away, demonstrates composure by playing a first time pass with the outside of his right foot. The intricate pass splits two defenders, and John Harkes races forward to finish from inside the six.
The US would win this game 3-1, beat Portugal 1-0 on a Wegerle goal, and tie Italy 1-1 via another Harkes strike to claim the US Cup trophy.