It was 25 years ago Tuesday that Eric Wynalda, then a member of the U.S. men’s national soccer team, scored on a free kick to give the Americans a 1-1 tie with Switzerland in the 1994 World Cup at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan.
The goal was the first for the U.S. team in World Cup play since 1950.
Wynalda, a three-time World Cup team member and now coach of the Lights FC, still closely follows the men’s and women’s international competition. He’ll have a rooting interest Thursday when the U.S. women (2-0-0) conclude group play against Sweden (2-0-0) at noon in Le Havre, France.
“I’ve always watched the Women’s World Cup,” Wynalda said. “I have daughters, so it’s kind of mandated in my family that we congregate in front of the TV, especially when the U.S. is playing.”
Wynalda’s favorite player is U.S. forward Tobin Heath. He also likes Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Rose Lavelle.
“She (Heath) is just incredibly talented, she’s a wonderful person and I just really enjoy watching her play,” Wynalda said.
The coach predicted that the team will make the July 7 final. “They have a very good chance to win it again,” he said.
Some of Wynalda’s players also had their thoughts on the women’s team:
Goalkeeper, Las Vegas
Favorite player: Carli Lloyd, U.S.
Prediction: “They’re (USA) the best. So it’s pretty much if they don’t win, it’s a failure for them.”
Favorite player: Christine Sinclair, Canada
Prediction: “I see them (USA) in the finals. I know they’re going for the gold. I know Canada is good, France and Brazil. I would love for Canada to win it all, but definitely say the U.S. is favored.”
Midfielder, New York
Favorite player: Mallory Pugh, U.S.
Prediction: “I think they (U.S. women) are going to win the whole thing.”
Midfielder, Guarenas, Venezuela
Favorite player: Alex Morgan, U.S.
Prediction: “I hope the U.S. wins the whole thing. I support them. Venezuela is not there, so I like the USA.”
Midfielder, Pasadena, California
Favorite player: Morgan
Prediction: “I say the final (USA). I hope they do (win it).”
Midfielder, Quimistan, Honduras
Favorite player: Lloyd, Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, U.S.
Prediction: “I’m putting my money on the U.S. It’s going to be big for the country, and then they can keep fighting for equality.”
Forward, Morelia, Mexico
Favorite player: Morgan
Prediction: “Champions (U.S.). I feel the World Cup is more competitive this year, but I feel like they’re going to take it.”
Jonathan Eskin covers the Lights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com
Who: Lights FC (5-6-4) at El Paso Locomotive FC (7-2-5)
What: United Soccer League match
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Southwest University Park, El Paso
TV: CW-6; streaming: ESPN Plus
Radio: Spanish only, KENO-AM (1460)