After an away draw to Guatemala and the most CONCACAF of endings in Costa Rica, the US found itself in last place in the semifinal round of 2002 World Cup Qualifying. A 7-0 assault against Barbados helped calm the panic, but the US still treated the home match against Guatemala as a must-win.
The US fielded an aggressive lineup, with Brian McBride, Joe Max-Moore, and Jovan Kirovski in attack, supported by Claudio Reyna, John O’Brien, and Earnie Stewart in midfield. The US generated chances, but rued its missed opportunities. Bruce Arena made a rare double-sub in the 57th minute, bringing on Eddie Lewis and Cobi Jones for width. Any tactical plans were discarded eight minutes later, when Lewis was sent off with a straight red card.
Despite being a man down, the US found its breakthrough. In the 72nd minute, Reyna somehow finds himself at midfield with the nearest Guatemala defender 20 yards away. With acres of space, Reyna picks his head up and plays a ball out wide to Cobi Jones. Guatemala gets caught in a moment of indecision on a potential offside trap, and the pass beats 4 players. Taking advantage of the disorganized backline, Jones collects the ball near the corner of the 18, and sends a cross to a completely unmarked McBride. The keeper rushes out to make contact with something, but befitting of a player who’s highlight film showcases multiple facial injuries, McBride risks his body to connect on the volley.
McBride broke a shinguard, but scored the game-winning goal, keeping the US Hex qualification in sight.