No the Fire haven’t been around that long but 17 years ago today, the United States pulled off one of the biggest upsets in team history, downing Argentina 3-0 at Copa America ’95 in Paysandu, Uruguay. The upset propelled the U.S. to the top of Group C on the final day of pool play, en route to an unprecedented fourth place finish at the tournament.
What does it have to do with the Fire? Current head coach Frank Klopas scored the first (and eventually game winning) goal, pouncing on a loose ball at the top of the box in the 20th minute. (See video below).
Asked if he knew what today was the anniversary of Klopas laughed, “I just watched the DVD a couple days ago but I didn’t realize it was right around that time.”
“You never forget the first goal you ever score so my first one with the Sting was special. The first goal with the national team, with AEK, my first goal at Soldier Field with the Fire and then the goal in the Open Cup final. The goal [vs. Argentina] was part of such a big upset at the time – it’s definitely one of those moments that means more as time goes on.”
Names like Eric Wynalda, Alexi Lalas, Cobi Jones, Earnie Stewart and Tony Meola contributed in the win and Klopas said the group often remembers it when they come back together.
“There are times for sure when we talk about 1995 and Copa America and the success we had. I think that was really one of my last great moments that I shared with that group of players that I’d played with for many years. It’s a very special memory for me.”
As for Frank’s hair for that match, he chalks it up to encouragement from a teammate…
“That was when I’d come back from AEK in Greece. Everybody weird hairstyles but [Tony] Meola told me I had to leave my hair long. I started to grow it out – it wasn’t the best look and my wife Sophia made me cut it. I thought it looked good but the more I look at it now, it was a disaster and she was right.”
Catch Frank's hair as well as all the highlights from the match, called by longtime American soccer announcer Phil Schoen and his counterpart Renato Capobianco below.