Interviews

In his words: How Dorrance remembers USWNT triumph at 1991 World Cup

China, friendship with Sweden, 100 percent pressure. The U.S. soccer legend shared his memories of the first Women's World Cup with Scott French. (Photo courtesy U.S. Soccer.)

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Anson Dorrance is the most successful soccer coach in American history, winning 22 national championships and posting an 809-69-36 record in 37 seasons with the University of North Carolina's women's team while mentoring a who's who of American legends.

Dorrance, 65, who was born in Bombay and raised in Asia, Africa and Europe, was in charge of the U.S. women's national team from 1986 through 1994, building an enduring powerhouse that streaked to the championship at the initial Women's World Cup in China and formed the foundation for the program's success in the years to follow.

The 1991 World Cup was special for Dorrance, and not only because it was his only World Cup. He had a lifelong affinity for China, one that, apparently, was not shared by his players, as he notes below.

Here are some of his stories from that first women's world championship.

The United States had fared well against top competition in the years leading to the 1991 tournament, but it wasn't considered at the same level as the European powers. Dorrance knew his team could win the championship.

I knew when I have my team a quiz before the World Cup. I can't remember where it was, but I thought we had a shot, so, basically, I asked them a simple question: How do you want to go into this World Cup? Do you want to go in as a dark horse and just surprise everyone or do you want to go in as a team that has thrashed everyone and win anyway?

And, of course, for me, that's a rhetorical question. I didn't want to be a dark horse. I wanted to go in with the attitude that we were the best team in the world and we were going to prove it in this first Women's World Cup, and that's exactly what the girls wanted to do. They wanted to go in as a dominant team and not sort of sneak up and sort of, you know, humbly come in as an American team in a World Cup and sort genuflect to everyone, and I loved it. The girls said no. Let's go in as this powerhouse and basically just crush everyone. And I absolutely loved it. That was their reply, and that's the way we went in.

NEXT: 'They think we suck'

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