Thursday, June 10, 2010

Know Your American History!!!

Despite what you may have heard from the mainstream sports media over the past 20 years or so, American soccer has a rich history. Before what I call the dark days between World Cup appearances in 1950-1990, American soccer actually kicked some ass in the first half of the 20th century with the highlight being the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay. An article from Slate highlights the great popularity the game enjoyed during the 1920s and ponders what could have been if political infighting between the the American game's officials hadn't torpedoed the successful American Soccer League.

Did you know the first goalkeeper to record a shut out in the World Cup was American?

USA Goalkeeper Jimmy Douglas dives to make a save in the 1930 World Cup Semifinal against Argentina. Earlier in the tournament he shut out Belgium 3:0 to become the first goalkeeper to register a clean sheet.

Did you know the first player to score a hat trick in a World Cup game was American?

(Photo from Soccer in a Football World)

USA forward Bert Patenaude (in white) scored three goals against Paraguay in the 1930 World Cup. He still holds the record for most goals in a World Cup by an American with 4.

Did you know the best finish of any non-European/non-South American team was the American team?

The 1930 USA World Cup team lost to Argentina in the semifinals when one defender broke his leg and the keeper tore his knee up and couldn't move. This was before the days of substitutions. Yugoslavia refused to play the third place game and the USA were awarded third place.

Did you know Landon Donovan is not the best American player ever?

(Photo from Soccer in a Football World)

America's greatest player Archie Stark scored 333 career goals. He declined the opportunity to play in the 1930 World Cup. Can you imagine if he did? We could have a star above the US Soccer Shield!

Oh the possibilities... but hey, maybe we'll be able to see this on July 12th.

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