The San Jose Earthquakes are offering fans a chance to relive a piece of soccer history Saturday during a match against the New York Red Bulls at Stanford Stadium, where they’ll hold a halftime show honoring players from the 1994 men’s World Cup team that played in a climactic game on The Farm 17 years ago.
While the U.S. lost the game 1-0 to eventual champions Brazil, they put up a colossal fight that capped off a storied World Cup run into the round of 16, and forever changed the awareness and culture of soccer in America.
"That ’94 match between Brazil and the United States is probably the biggest soccer event that’s ever occurred in the Bay Area," said Earthquakes President Dave Kaval, who came up with the idea to honor the U.S. players who appeared in the game. "It’s something that a lot of people out there would want to celebrate — and it should be celebrated."
The event will feature 10 players from the groundbreaking U.S. team, including Marcelo Balboa, Tab Ramos and Cobi Jones, as well as a five-minute retrospective that looks back at the historic game through footage and interviews with some of the players — including one-time San Jose Clash great Eric Wynalda.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s game features two of the best players in the MLS, as Thierry Henry of the Red Bulls faces off against reigning MLS Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski, who is returning to the Earthquakes after international duty with the current U.S. squad.
Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop said he is excited to have the star striker back, and doesn’t see him having any issues fitting back in with his teammates.
"For us it’s about putting him in good spots, and it’s about him being hungry," Yallop said. "He’s training well all week and he’s dying to play, so I think it’s a good combination."
A crowd of more than 25,000 people is expected Saturday according to Kaval, who said he made it his goal to bring back as many fans who were at the 1994 game as possible.
"We’re really trying to make this almost a bookend to that event 17 years ago, to really gather the soccer fans and the people who were influenced by that event back together in the same place, 17 years later," Kaval said.
As part of that effort, the organization is offering free admission to any fans who can prove they attended the 1994 game at Stanford Stadium, which was packed with more than 80,000 fans. As part of the July 4 weekend, the night will culminate with a fireworks show immediately following the game.
WHEN: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Stanford Stadium
FESTIVITIES: Pregame ceremonies will be held with members of the 1994 United States World Cup team in the Epicenter Fan Zone. ... An on-field presentation will take place at halftime with commemorative pennants given to players from ’94 team. ... A postgame fireworks show will be held.