USMNT – Korea soccer history

usmnt, 2002 world cup, korea

With the USMNT set to meet Korea in an international friendly on Saturday, Feb 1 (5pm ET - ESPN2), here's what you need to know about the soccer history between the two National Teams.

First USMNT - Korea Game

The two teams met for the first time on June 12, 1987 in Busan, Korea but that wasn't the first time the USMNT played in Korea. That happened four days earlier in Seoul when the USMNT started their 1987 President's Cup schedule with a Group A loss to Egypt at Dongdaemun Stadium. The competition's purpose was exposure for the Korean National Team, and normally dominated by Korea each year during its run from 1971-99.

In their second group stage game, the US lost 1-0 to Korea at Busan Gudeok Stadium. The US finished the tournament with a 1-0 win over Thailand on June 16 in Chongju, fifth out of six teams in Group A that included a Hungary XI and Argentine club Deportivo Expanol. Korea won the group with Egypt finishing second. Korea would go onto win the tournament, beating Australia on penalties.

Ted Hantak scored both of the USA's goals in the tournament, playing in all three games. Those were also his only three appearances for the USMNT. Hantak was an indoor player with Major Indoor Soccer League clubs.

Games in California

Korea traveled to Los Angeles for an international friendly on Aug 13, 1989, beating the USA 2-1. John Harkes scored for the USA in that game, his first goal for the USMNT. The two teams met again five years later in Fullerton, CA on Mar 12, 1994. That game ended in a 1-1 draw with Marcelo Balboa scoring for the USA. The US lineup in that game was typical for the team in the mid-90s, with familiar names at every position for the USMNT as the squad prepared for that summer's World Cup.

Return to Korea

The USMNT returned to Korea for the first time since 1997 to play a rare December friendly. The game took place eight days after the draw for the 2002 World Cup in Busan, with the USA and Korea drawn into the same group. On Dec 9, 2001 Korea shutout the United States 1-0 at the Jeju World Cup Stadium in Seogwipo. With enthusiasm high for the 2002 World Cup co-hosted by Japan and Korea, the game was a sellout. With the game outside of the international calendar, five American players got their first USMNT cap in that game, including Carlos Bocanegra who would go onto captain the squad.

The 2002 Gold Cup

It didn't take long for the two teams to meet again. Back in the era when CONCACAF invited teams to fill out the Gold Cup field, Korea accepted an invitation to the 2002 tournament. They were drawn against the United States in Group B, playing each other on Jan 19 in front of 42,177 fans at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. The USMNT kept its undefeated streak in Gold Cup play alive. Landon Donovan opened the scoring in the 35th minute with Korea equalizing three minutes later. With Korea playing a man down from the 56th minute, DaMarcus Beasley scored the USA's winner two minutes into stoppage time with an assist from Jeff Cunningham. It was Beasley's first goal for the USMNT.

The 2002 World Cup

June 10, 2002 at the Daegu World Cup Stadium. The USMNT opened Group D with a shock win over Portugal. South Korea also entered the second game of the group with three points, beating Poland. Clint Mathis opened the scoring for the USA in the 24th minute and Korea equalized in the 78th for a 1-1 draw. Both Korea and the USA advanced from the group, with the USMNT benefiting from Korea's final day win over Portugal.

The Stats

In six meetings starting in 1987, the USMNT has one win, two draws, and three losses against Korea, currently the 53rd ranked team in world soccer. Worth noting is that Mexico's game against Korea on Wednesday in San Antonio is the 12th meeting between the two teams. That series starts back in 1948, though they don't play again until 1980 in Los Angeles. That series is even with four wins each and two draws and includes Korea knocking Mexico out of the 2002 Gold Cup in the quarterfinal round on penalties.

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