Today in US National Team History: Sampson’s Slide Continues


David Regis/photo from BBC Sport

As the Macedonia game a week earlier demonstrated the wheels were coming off Steve Sampson’s US team at the wrong time, with France 98 around the corner. Facing Kuwait in Portland in front of a national TV audience on ABC, the US looked content to knock the ball around the midfield until Earnie Stewart broke the deadlock about 35 minutes in with a nice finish.

In the second half Tab Ramos scored from almost the same spot on the same pitch where he has struck a classic shot against Costa Rica the previous September. The 2-0 US win was largely disappointing and much like the previous game against Macedonia gave us a strong indication of the type of World Cup that was ahead of the squad.

David Regis, naturalized earlier in the week and quickly cleared to play by the USSF made his debut in this match playing completely out of position in a left midfield role dictated by the odd 3-6-1 Sampson favored. Regis would prove to be a decent player for the US at left back under Bruce Arena but his late integration in an already unsettled side proved to be the final straw that doomed Sampson’s tenure.

It can be easily understood why Sampson wanted Regis and worked to quickly naturalize him. After all this was a player a high caliber whose club career in France and Germany gave him far more experience in tough situations than most American players. Besides, he was left footed, always a commodity for an international, and had a good tactical sense. But integrating someone who did not speak English well and had never played with any of his new national team mates right before the World Cup was a disaster.

Regis proved to be a solid left back under Bruce Arena in qualifying for the 2002 World Cup. By the time 2002 itself rolled around, Regis was past his best and was phased out of the national team.

Here was the squad that day in Portland:

Kasey Keller

Eddie Pope

Tom Dooley

Mike Burns

David Regis

Brian Maisonieuve (Tab Ramos)

Chad Deering

Claudio Reyna (Joe Max Moore)

Earnie Stewart (Preki)

Jeff Agoos

Roy Wegerle (Brian McBride)