You’ve been reading that the last visit to Cuba for the Men’s National Team was way back in 1947, and that is true. But in 1991, the island nation hosted the Pan American Games, and the U.S. Under-23 Men’s team traveled to Santiago, Cuba to participate. How’d the U.S. do? Well… they won their only gold in the history of the tournament.
Made up largely of the group of players that took fourth place at the 1989 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, including U.S. Soccer legends Brad Freidel, Cobi Jones, Claudio Reyna and Joe-Max Moore, Lothar Osiander coached the team to a win over rival Mexico in the finals, going a perfect 5-0-0 in the tournament.
After scoring the USA’s first goal, Reyna left the Final with an injury and gave way to substitute Moore. In overtime, Moore hammered home a free kick to give the Americans the lead and Freidel did the rest, coming up with three spectacular saves to protect the lead and help give his team its first ever Pan Am gold medal.
The team scored 10 goals in five games while allowing only four. A majority of that team went on to qualify for and play in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, where they earned a hard-fought 1-1-1 record.
1991 Pan American Games Results
USA 1, Suriname 0
USA 2, Honduras 1
USA 3, Canada 1
Semifinal: USA 2, Cuba 1
Final: USA 2, Mexico 1