October 21, 2018 Atlanta: Atlanta United defender Leandro Gonzalez Pirez battles Chicago Fire forward Aleksander Katai for the ball during the first half in a MLS soccer match on Sunday, Oct 21, 2018, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Atlanta United’s Argentines haven’t forgotten ‘the pass’ from de Boer

Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer said that he doesn’t think about the pass he made to Dennis Bergkamp that helped Holland defeat Argentina 2-1 in the quarterfinals of the 1998 World Cup.

Well, at least two of de Boer’s Argentine players on Atlanta United said they haven’t forgotten.

Leandro Gonzalez Pirez was 6 years old, watching the game, which was played in Marseille in the living room of his parent’s home in Argentina.

On the play, de Boer dribbled up the field about 20 yards before hitting a left-footed pass more than 50 yards on a diagonal to Dennis Bergkamp. 

“What a pass, what a pass,” Gonzalez Pirez said.

First, Bergkamp used an amazing piece of skill to trap the ball on the fly with his right foot. As the ball took a bounce, Bergkamp quickly touched it again with his right foot to bring it back toward him as Argentine defender Roberto Ayala, who was tracking him, ran past the ball. After the ball bounced, Bergkamp hit a half-volley from 6 yards away into the opposite corner in the 90th minute.

“I remember my brother crying so hard because we were out of the World Cup,” Gonzalez Pirez said.

Eric Remedi was just 3 years old, but said he remembers watching the game, too.

“We had our revenge in the World Cup not that long ago,” Remedi said laughing. He was referencing Argentina’s 4-2 win in penalty kicks in the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Gonzalez Pirez said he has yet to talk to de Boer about the 1998 World Cup.

“Maybe we will talk soon,” he said. “He was a great player, a great defender. We could learn a lot about how he played.”

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