It was a good day for U.S. coach Steve Sampson and forward Brian McBride. But was it good enough for them to be part of the team headed to France for soccer’s World Cup?
McBride, a young forward on an old team, helped his bid with two goals as the United States helped eliminate El Salvador with a 4-2 win on a blustery Sunday with a wind chill of 15 degrees.
And Sampson, whose contract expired after the game, will find out by next month if he’ll lead the team into the tournament next summer.
The Americans, who clinched their third consecutive World Cup appearance a week earlier by beating Canada, finished strong with two wins and a tie after a disappointing 1-1 tie against Jamaica on Oct. 3. They were 4-1-5 in the finals of the North and Central American and Caribbean region, finishing second, one point behind Mexico (4-0-6).
“Obviously, Steve has made a great deal of progress,” said U.S. Soccer Federation president Alan Rothenberg, who was noncommittal. “I’ll listen to everybody but, ultimately, it’s my call.”
“I think it would be very difficult at this point to make a change,” said Sampson, an assistant coach on the 1994 World Cup team. “But I’ll respect any decision that’s made. I’ve always been a team player.”
McBride, who missed most of the MLS season with Columbus because of ankle problems, got a chance to play because Sampson didn’t use 10 players with one yellow card each who would be barred from the World Cup opener if they got a second.
“This team has a lot of forwards,” said McBride, playing for the second time in the final qualifying round. “I just hope it was a positive influence.”
Playing before 53,193 fans, there was little positive for El Salvador (2-4-4) against the Americans, playing a more aggressive, entertaining style than in 1994.
The United States scored its most goals in 31 World Cup games since a 5-1 victory over Jamaica in 1988.
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