jirrion (blumenfeuer) wrote in ontd_football,

soccer soccer soccer

hey guys, i don't know if you all are aware of omg_yanks, but a lot of us men's and women's national team and mls news/info/whatever is posted there more than here, if you're looking for diversity~

here is some news:
Philly poised to replicate Seattle's success (i personally think it's a 50/50 situation - for every expansion team that comes out gunning, there's another that sucks until they find their feet)
Garber visits Montreal to discuss future expansion (i'd rather it not expand in canada anymore, tbqh, and that they eventually get their own league)
Report: Raul Possibly Headed To MLS This Summer (dislike, probably false anyway)
Key U.S. defender DeMerit begins comeback
Aaaaand two articles on the recent World Cup draw: ESPN says
U.S. won't overlook its opponents (oh, unlike england?) and has some info about them, and The Guardian says Hopes of a repeat of 1950 defeat of England drive USA's ambition.

And while on that 1950 defeat of England:

How a ‘Band of No-Hopers’ Forged U.S. Soccer’s Finest Day

Walter Bahr, 82, is one of four surviving members of the U.S. soccer team that stunned England in the 1950 World Cup. “The older I get, the more famous I become,” he said.

BOALSBURG, Pa. — Walter Bahr taught junior high in Philadelphia when he made the United States soccer team for the 1950 World Cup, playing a vital role in one of the sport’s greatest upsets. Team duty paid $100 a week.

“That was double what I made teaching,” he said, laughing.

As Bahr recalls, he asked for a leave of absence near the end of the school year and was turned down. Finally, school officials relented.

“I think I had to give up my salary the last few weeks,” he said.

And so Bahr joined other semipro American players — a hearse driver, a dishwasher, a mail carrier — headed to Brazil to face mighty England in the World Cup.

The English invented soccer and were 3-1 favorites to win the tournament. The Americans were 500-1 long shots. “A band of no-hopers,” The Belfast Telegraph called them.

But stunningly, the United States defeated England, 1-0, in an early-round match. Among World Cup upsets, it is equaled perhaps only by North Korea’s victory against Italy in 1966. So shocking and unimaginable was the outcome, it is considered the equivalent of the Americans losing to the British in baseball.

As the story goes, some of the world’s newspapers believed a telegraph operator had made a mistake. They thought the real score must have been 10-1 in favor of England.

That long-ago match, immortalized in a book by Geoffrey Douglas called “The Game of Their Lives” and a movie of the same name, gained new resonance when the United States was drawn against England for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

It is funny how that 1950 game has been dusted off from anonymity, Bahr said. When he returned from Brazil, the only person to greet him at the airport was his wife, Davies. No one noticed outside the American soccer community. Only one American sportswriter made the trip, and he paid his own way.

According to Douglas’s book, The New York Times supposedly received a wire-service account just before deadline and, suspecting a hoax, did not immediately report the score. A United Press account in some American papers had the wrong player scoring the winning goal. No soccer boom followed. The United States would not qualify again for the World Cup for 40 years.

Walter Bahr was a midfielder on the 1950 U.S. soccer team. His sons Chris and Matt were N.F.L. kickers.

“The older I get, the more famous I become,” Bahr, 82, one of four surviving members of that 1950 team, said Tuesday at his farmhouse in central Pennsylvania. He lives a few miles from Penn State, where he was a longtime soccer coach and where his sons Chris and Matt honed their kicking skills before moving to the N.F.L.

“Ancient history,” Bahr, a midfielder, called the match against England. “You want to honor it, but you don’t want to live in it.”

Still, with the United States now a regular participant in the World Cup, Bahr and his surviving teammates have dutifully recounted the game over the last two decades. In their retelling, the arc of America’s soccer’s development becomes evident: an immigrant game blossoming into a suburban, soccer-mom revolution.

Bahr played as a 10-year-old for the Lighthouse Boys Club in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, along with kids of English, Irish, German and Scottish descent. Many of their fathers worked in textile mills. In 1943, at 16, Bahr joined the Philadelphia Nationals of the American Soccer League, playing for $5 a game on weekends.

An Olympian at the 1948 London Games, Bahr made the United States national team in 1949, scoring a goal as the Americans qualified for the 1950 World Cup with a 5-2 victory against Cuba. Not much was expected in the tournament in Brazil, however. While England was a postwar soccer giant, the United States had won one international match in 15 years.

Its most recent appearance in the World Cup, in 1934, had ended with a 7-1 throttling by host Italy while Mussolini watched wearing a yachting cap. The Americans practiced little ahead of the 1950 World Cup, losing, 5-0, to a Turkish club team and, 1-0, to a touring English team in exhibition matches. Bahr remembered wearing borrowed uniforms.

One of his Philadelphia friends, Ben McLaughlin, had also made the World Cup team, only to withdraw.

“He couldn’t get off work,” Bahr said. “It was just after the war and jobs were tough to come by.”

In its 1950 World Cup opener, the United States took a 1-0 lead against Spain before losing, 3-1. There was no bunkering on defense in those days, Bahr said, explaining that the best defense was considered to be a relentless offense.

The second match, on June 29 against England, was played in the mining town of Belo Horizonte. The Americans thought they had a slight chance to win. Very slight.

“If we could give them a good game and make them work really hard to beat us — that’s what most guys thought,” said Harry Keough, 82, a letter carrier and the team’s right back.

Frank Borghi, a hearse driver who grew up in St. Louis with Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola and played minor league baseball before settling on soccer, was less confident in goal.

“I was hoping I could hold them to four or five goals,” Borghi, 84, said.

That seemed to be wishful thinking as England opened with a fusillade of shots, Bahr said, ricocheting the ball off the crossbar, cracking it into a goal post. “We were fighting for our life,” he said.

Walter Bahr, right, playing in the World Cup in 1950.

But England did not score and the Americans began to gain confidence. The Brazilian crowd fell behind the underdog United States. And the British made a tactical mistake, resting their biggest star, wing Stanley Matthews, for the next match, against Spain. Finally, collecting a throw-in on the right side of midfield in the 37th minute, Bahr began to script the game’s decisive moment.

He angled a shot from 25 yards toward the far post and Bert Williams, the English goalkeeper, moved to his right, only to be left defenseless as forward Joe Gaetjens redirected the ball into the net with his head. Astonishingly, the Americans took a 1-0 lead.

The son of a Haitian mother and a Belgian father, Gaetjens had gone to New York from Haiti to study accounting at Columbia University and found part-time work as a dishwasher. He was not a United States citizen but was eligible for the World Cup because he had expressed his intention to become naturalized. He never did, disappearing in Haiti in 1963, presumably murdered because his family opposed the dictator François Duvalier.

But in that brief moment against England, Gaetjens became a soccer hero in the United States. He was an acrobatic player, and he somehow got to Bahr’s shot, diving, his body parallel to the ground near the penalty spot.

“Some said the ball accidentally hit him in the ear or the back of the head, but I know that Joe made an effort in traffic to get to the ball,” Bahr said. “He would get to balls you didn’t think he could get to. What’s the difference? It went in. It doesn’t say on the scoreboard that it was an accident.”

At halftime, Bahr said, the Americans worried “that the floodgates would open.” They did not, but England got an inviting chance to tie the score in the 82nd minute. Forward Stanley Mortensen sprinted toward the American goal only to be tackled from behind, just outside the penalty area, by defender Charlie Colombo.

“You’ve never seen that good a tackle in a football game,” Keough said, laughing.

Colombo was not an elegant player; he wore gloves that boxers used to hit the speed bag and played with equally pugilistic intent.

“If he had been thrown out, we didn’t have any legitimate complaint,” Bahr said.

Instead, England was awarded a free kick, not a penalty kick. Later, Colombo, who was of Italian ancestry, told teammates that the Italian referee had congratulated him, saying “Buono, Buono,” for such a rugged play on an Englishman. It was probably just a joke, Bahr said.

Alf Ramsey, who later managed England to the 1966 World Cup title, chipped the free kick over the American wall. The ball was headed, and it bounced past a diving Borghi toward the goal line. At the last moment, Borghi reached back and cuffed the ball wide.

“The English were saying it was over the line,” Keough said. “It may have been. But I didn’t see it that way.”

At the final whistle, Gaetjens was held aloft by Brazilian fans, and the English players graciously shook hands with the Americans. Initially ignored in the United States, the game has since inflated like a soccer ball.

“One thing that bothers me is people in our own federation have referred to our victory as a fluke,” Bahr said. “There was no fluke. Things happen in sports. The ball can bounce any way.”

The movie mentioned is eh, but the book is a short, quick read that's really interesting if you like US Soccer and/or history.
Tags: league: major league soccer (mls), nt: united states

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  • Monday

    SPORTS AGENDA: Manchester United offer loan fee reprieve to EFL clubs, Sky 'angered' over Richard Masters BBC interview and Premier League stars…

  • International matches and... WAGagtha Christie

    6 - @SergeGnabry scored 6 goals for @DFB_Team_EN…

  • news round up

    Chatter from the sidelines FIFA Officials Arrested on Corruption Charges; Blatter Isn’t Among Them too bad! Sepp Blatter should step aside,…