Wednesday, June 9, 2010

England vs USA in World Cup Football: What History Shows

England and USA are going to take on each other next Saturday (12 June) in their opening match of the World Cup Football 2010. Football fans of both countries are eagerly waiting for the match and hoping a favorable result for their teams.

England and USA faced each other five times so far with four out of five meetings being friendly matches. Their only meeting in World Cup football, which was also their first ever meeting, came in FIFA World Cup 1950 in Brazil.

The match ended up being one of the biggest upsets of world football as USA defeated England 1-0 in a group match at the Est√°dio Independ√™ncia in Belo Horizonte on 29 June 1950. The match is now dubbed as the “Miracle on Grass.”

It was a big surprise or shock to the football fans because England was arguably considered as the best side in world football at that time, while USA was struggling. 1950 World Cup was the first World Cup in the post-world war era.

Before that match, England won 23, lost 4 and drew 3 matches out of 30 post-war matches. USA, on the other hand, went into the game on the back of 7 consecutive defeats.

Today’s USA team is far stronger than the 1950’s team as USA football got huge exposure in the recent decades. For example, the current USA squad for the World Cup 2010 includes 13 players who play in the leagues of England, Italy, Spain, Germany and France.

Back in 1950, USA team consisted of semi-professional players who were involved in other professions including teaching, dishwashing etc. to earn their living. The players were arranged just prior to the World Cup. Before the England match, Bill Jeffrey, the newly-appointed US coach, revealed that his team had no chance against the England.

England players, on the other hand, were professionals with all of them playing club football in England, and some of them are now considered as legends in their clubs.

In the match, England did not feature their biggest star Stanley Matthews, who many believed was world’s best footballer at that time. Matthews missed three England matches prior to the World Cup and joined the Three Lions a bit later as he had gone to Canada on a tour with a group of England players.

Selector Arthur Drewry decided to stick to the winning eleven that had defeated Chile 2-0 in the opening match of the World Cup. Though England was missing Stanley Matthews, they had a number of highly experienced and quality players like Stan Mortensen, Billy Wright, Tom Finney, Roy Bentley, Jimmy Mullen and some others. Here, it should be mentioned that substitution was allowed in world football at that time.

USA got the winning goal thanks to Joe Gaetjens who scored against the run of play in the 38th minute. England was totally unlucky not to have a goal in the first half. Two of their shots hit the post, while US goalkeeper Frank Borghi denied England at least 2 goals. On a fine day, England could have scored at least 5-6 goals in the first half, but it was USA who was leading 1-0 at the half time.

In the second half, USA played slightly better, but still England had a number of scoring chances. Borghi again saved USA couple of times and England players continued missing chances. England appealed for a penalty when Mortensen was illegally challenged by Charlie Colombo, but the referee awarded England a free kick.

Neither England nor USA could progress to the next round in the tournament as Spain clinched top spot in the group, and thus, getting into the next stage.

At that time, there was no computer or internet facility. So, the match result reached to England via fax. An England defeat at the hands of a group of Americans was so unexpected that some newspaper thought the result was mistyped and they reported a 10-0 or 10-1 victory for England.

The news of England’s defeat did not get enough focus as England cricket team for the first time lost a test match to West Indies on the same day. Next day, newspapers focused on that story, rather than England’s defeat to USA.

There was a dispute regarding the USA team as it included three players: Gaetjens, McIlvenny, and Maca- who were not US citizen at that time. However, as per the rule of United States Soccer Federation, they were allowed to play as they were interested to gain the US citizenship. FIFA later on did not find anything wrong in the event in a hearing held on 2 December 1950.

Aside from this match, England and USA met each other on four other occasions and England won all of them. Their latest meeting came in 2008 when England defeated USA 2-0.

1 comment:

  1. What are the details of the other 4 encounters?