World Cup’s 101 Most Memorable Moments: U.S. pull off massive upset vs. England


Editor’s note: Every day from now until the start of the first match of the FIFA World Cup 2022 on November 20, we will reveal a different memory from the history of the World Cup. The the countdown from 101 continues with the unthinkable victory of the United States against England in the 1950 World Cup.

To say that the U.S. was a huge underdog in their World Cup meeting with England in the 1950 World Cup doesn’t do justice to the mismatch that was. Competing in the tournament for the first time, England were arguably Brazil’s best team and one of the favorites to lift the trophy after defeating reigning champions Italy 4-0 weeks before the competition began.

The US team members, on the other hand, weren’t even full-time professionals. The Americans arrived in Brazil having played just seven international games in the past 16 years (in part because of World War II), and were outscored 45-2. The Yankees were going to lose. The only question was how much.

Except they didn’t. In one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, the United States stunned the Three Lions 1-0 in Belo Horizonte on a first-half goal from Joe Gaetjens. England were eliminated after also dropping their next game, in Spain. Ditto for the United States, who were knocked out after a 5-2 loss to Chile. The Americans would not qualify for another World Cup for 40 years.

The game of their lives

The game of their lives

The US semi-pro men’s national team stunned the English giants.

Doug McIntyre is a football writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a writer for ESPN and Yahoo Sports and has covered the US men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @By Doug McIntyre.


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