May 20, 1990 – U.S. 1:0 Partizan Belgrade at Yale Bowl, New Haven, Conn. (Att.: 30,644)
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Peter Vermes scored 15 seconds into the second half in a U.S. preparation match before the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Tony Meola saved a late Aleksandar Dordevic free kick as Partizan played without three Yugoslavia national teamers, including starting defender Predrag Spasic.
The U.S. would go on to take a 4-1 win over Lichtenstein in Eschen and a 2-1 loss to Switzerland in St. Gallen in prep matches. But the U.S. was hardly ready for the World Cup finals, and was routed, 5-1, by Czechoslovakia in the opener in Florence. Meola’s PK instincts came into play as he stood his ground to calmly catch Michel Bilek’s “Panenka” attempt. Yes, the U.S. put itself in a position to be humiliated and Czechs were willing to comply. And, yes, Antonin Panenka was Czech.
Coach Bob Gansler, assisted by former University of New Haven coach Joe Machnik, adjusted in the second game, a 1-0 loss to Italy in Rome. Then, the U.S. was eliminated following a 2-1 loss to Austria in Florence.
The U.S. starters included John Harkes and Eric Wynalda, who would go on to play for the New England Revolution, plus striker Bruce Murray, who became a Harvard assistant coach.
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