From The Archives: World Cup 1950

Jun 11, 2014

If you have World Cup fever, you’ll know Brazil and Croatia kick off the tournament Thursday. Even if you don’t have the fever; even if the brouhaha over Landon Donovan last month didn’t register; even if you have only the faintest understanding of who David Beckham is; you know that the U.S. has never been a favorite in the sport of international soccer.

While they’ve climbed as high as fourth in FIFA’s world rankings (2006), the U.S. Men’s National Team ranks a distant 13 ahead of this month’s tournament. But in 1950 the US team was virtually unknown (even domestically), falling backwards into the tournament by a trick of the math.

This week I found a 2005 interview from our program The Front Porch. Host Shay Zeller spoke with Geoffrey Douglas, author of “The Game of Their Lives” about the unlikely Stars and Stripes team that headed to Brazil 64 years ago. The schedule pitted them against soccer powerhouse and tournament favorite England in an early round. Douglas tells a great story, combining American pluck and British hubris with a sort of David and Goliath ending.