Germany opens Cup by holding off Bolivia, 1-0 WORLD CUP 1994

June 18, 1994|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- The world's biggest sporting event gave the planet's premier party yesterday.

Oprah Winfrey was the master of ceremonies and wasn't hurt seriously after falling down the stage steps. Neither was singer Jon Secada, who also took a spill and had a minor injury to his shoulder. Richard Marx sang the national anthem and didn't fall. Daryl Hall and Diana Ross also entertained while representatives of each of the 24 countries performed a national dance.

The VIP chart included President Clinton, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Spanish King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia,

Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada and Argentine President Carlos Saul Menem.

And oh, the first World Cup soccer game played in this country: Germany, 1 Bolivia 0, at Chicago's steamy Soldier Field.

Star forward Juergen Klinsmann scored the game-winning goal at the 61st minute after a long pass by Lothar Matthaeus, which was nudged down to Klinsmann by Thomas Haessler past a sliding Carlos Leonel Trucco, Bolivia's goalkeeper. Klinsmann scored into an open net and Germany managed to hang on for the victory.

"I cherish the victory," said Klinsmann. "It was lucky, and we deserved to win. It was nice to win here, and it being the opener made it more exciting."

It was a fitting and almost predicted ending for the winners, playing in a city heavily populated with Germans. Germany's goal touched off a wild celebration from the crowd of 63,117, several thousand of them Americans watching a World Cup game for the first time.

They got a treat as fans painted faces, pounded on drums, hoisted banners, blew whistles and did the wave five times in the backdrop of antiquated Soldier Field, which got a $14 million face lift, including new lush turf, for this event.

"Soccer is now a universal language that brings all of us together," said Clinton in pre-game remarks.

"I knew absolutely nothing about this game, but they have some great fans, very spirited and knowledgeable," said Carita Gamble, 30, a Chicago banker. "It's a great and different way to meet different cultures. We have never done the wave five times."

"The only problem were those prices," said Laura O'Kane, 35, a publicity director from Mount Prospect, a Chicago suburb. "They were way out, really steep."

Parking cost $25. Tents and ambulances were set up around the stadium to shield fans as well as vendors from the sun. A turkey sandwich or Italian sub cost $4.50. A bottle of mineral water was $2.50, and an empty souvenir cup was $4.

The cheapest gift was a $3 banner, and T-shirts went from as low as $18 to $75. Wool jackets, with leather sleeves and the U.S. soccer logo, went for $575, almost twice as much as two tickets, which scalpers were selling for $200.

"I don't know if they're going to sell much at those prices," said O'Kane.

Inside the stadium was a game marred by a sloppy first half, five yellow warning cards and one player being ejected.

Both teams tried to pace themselves early in the hot weather, as temperatures reached the high 80s. The first shot wasn't taken until nearly eight minutes had elapsed.

But German coach Berti Vogts ordered his team to turn up the tempo in the second half. He also moved Matthaeus, a team captain and sweeper, to the midfield.

It was Matthaeus who trapped the ball at midfield, and sent the long pass to Haessler. Haessler then got it to one of the game's best finishers.

"I had to go after the ball," said Trucco. "The field was moist, I kept slipping a lot and I lost my balance. I couldn't get to the ball."

Vogts, whose team became the first defending champion to win NTC an opener since England in 1970, said: "As world champions, we were under a lot of pressure. We just had to pace ourselves and vary the pace of the game. It wasn't pretty, but we're going to go forward."

Americans had varied opinions of the game. Jule Thompson, 10, from nearby Naperville, thought the game was "cool." O'Kane thought there was a lot of action, too.

But Chris Borek, 25, a Chicago secretary, said: "I liked the people, the fans, but if the sport is going to be that boring, we

can get bored watching our own Bears or Cubs."


First round

MA * United States vs. Switzerland at Pontiac, Mich., 11:35 a.m,

chs. 13, 7

* Italy vs. Ireland at East Rutherford, N.J., 4:05 p.m., ESPN

K? * Colombia vs. Romania at Pasadena, Calif., 7:35 p.m., ESPN

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