Today, Colombia and the United States open the long-awaited Copa América Centenario in Santa Clara at Levi’s Stadium. For Jürgen Klinsmann, a coach under fire for the USMNT’s recent World Cup qualifying results, it will be a first big test as the U.S. begins its Copa campaign on home soil.
The encounter is also one steeped in history – arguably very dramatic history. In 1994, the U.S. team and Los Cafeteros met in the first round of the World Cup. Andrés Escobar’s own goal decided the match with the hosts progressing and Colombia exiting.
The no. 2 had stretched to intercept a left wing cross from John Harkes, but only succeeded in wrong footing his goalkeeper Oscar Cordoba and putting the U.S. in front. The U.S. won 2-1 and Colombia was on its way home.
The player refused to succumb to self-pity and even wrote an editorial in the Bogotá newspaper El Tiempo expressing his regret for the goal but ending with the words, “See you soon, because life doesn’t end here.”
After returning from the World Cup, Escobar went out in Medellín and was shot at a night club. Escobar was escorted to the hospital and pronounced dead after 45 minutes. His killing sparked an outpouring of national grief in Colombia.
Twenty-two years after Escobar’s pointless death, the player will be honored at Copa. The players and the coaching staff of the Colombian national team signed a no. 2 shirt with the name Escobar.
The shirt will be given to Escobar’s parents ahead of the opening game. Other siblings and relatives of the player will also be in attendance.
For more information on Andrés Escobar’s death, watch the trailer for The Two Escobars below.