Editor's note: Perhaps the first — and most seismic — shock in World Cup history took place on June 29, 1950. when an England team that was expected to contend for the title was beaten by the United States, a hastily assembled group of part-time players. It has become known as the "Miracle on Grass." Six players on the team were from St. Louis, including goalie Frank Borghi and Harry Keough. Here is the original report from that day.
BELO HORIZOXTE, Brazil, June 29, 1950 - The United States soccer soccer team scored the most stunning stunning upset in the 1950 world championship tournament by edging powerful England, 1 to 0, on a first-half goal by Joe Gaetjens of New York.
He headed Walter Bahr's hard pass into the net. Given little or no chance of beating the classy Britons, the underdog Americans dominated the attack during the entire game and forged a rock-ribbed defense when the British fought back in an effort to tie the score.
Forward John Souza was the outstanding player on the field. The Britons stormed back in the second half, but the United States defense, bulwarked by Center Half Charley Colombo of St. Louis, prevented them from scoring.
England had a penalty kick late in the game, but Goalie Frank Borghi of St. Louis made a brilliant save.
The victory was the Americans' first in two games in the four-team four-team four-team division. Spain, which defeated defeated Chile, 2 to 0, leads the division with two victories.
The British also have one victory and one defeat. If the United States beats Chile on Sunday and England rebounds to beat Spain, the group will end in a three way tie and a new playoff will be ordered.
Yesterday's surprise was even bigger than last Sunday's Swedish triumph over Italy, 3-2, or Switzerland's holding Brazil to a 2-2 tie.
Brazilian fans swarmed onto the field after the United States victory and took the Americans on their shoulders while the victors were given an ovation.
The British forwards were uncertain in aiming for goals but their general play appeared superior to that of the winners except except on the scoreboard.
The Americans made many long range passes and showed improvement improvement in their game. During the second period, England attacked 15 times to the Americans' 10.
The United States, under pressure, gave up six corners to England's two.
Tears in the pressbox
England's loss to the United States brought tears to the eyes of British sports writers today.
A Daily Express report on page one said: "It marks the lowest ever for British sport." Roy Peskett of the Daily Mail said in another page one story: "A fitter, faster, fighting team of the United States have done the unbelieveable! This is the biggest soccer upset of all time."
In the Daily Graphic, John Gaydon lamented: "It was pathetic pathetic to see the cream of English players beaten by a side (team) most amateur players at home would have beaten, and there was no fluke about it."
Americans here said it compared to a major league all-star team being beaten in London by nine part-time English baseball players.
World Cup Champs
"Everybody wants to know just how it happened," explained Charley Colombo, center " halfback halfback star of the United States team. "I just tell them we won because we scored a goal and then tied them up so they couldn't get through us."
Harry Keough, who played at right fullback in all three games, against Spain, England and Chile, adds another thought to Colombo's Colombo's terse comment. "I don't mind saying we were almost sorry to beat the English team that day In Belo Horizonte."
"We felt it was going going to be a terrible blow to them, and we knew we were not yet strong enough to win the championship. championship. But we beat them and in the last five minutes came close to making it 3-0 instead of 1-0."
Frank Wallace, who was at outside right that day, will long remember remember how Fullback Ramsay robbed him of a score in the closing closing minutes. Wallace, taking a pass from Gaetjens at the center line, outran Fullback Aston to the penalty area, drew Goaltender Williams far out, beat him with a feint and crossed the ball toward the empty goal.
Ramsay, the right fullback, anticipating trouble, had raced 50 yards to the goal where he arrived just in time to reach the ball as it was about to cross the line for a point.
"If I had hit the ball just a trifle harder Ramsay would never have touched it." moans Wallace. He had the pleasure of scoring a beautiful headed goal against Chile.
Gino Pariani, an inside forward forward in all three games, also was a goal getter. He tallied against Spain with a shot that handcuffed one of the world's greatest goaltenders, Eizaguirre.
That score almost whipped the Spaniards. Not until 12 minutes from the end of the game were they able to tie it. The U.S. defense wobbled in the closing minute, but it didn't falter against England four days later.
The fifth St. Louis boy to play was Goaltender Frank Borghi, one of the real stand outs of the victory over England.
He was carried from the field that day on the shoulders of worshippers.
"When that mob came at me I didn't know what to expect," Borghi is telling folks on The Hill.
"I'd heard a lot about the strange behavior of Brazilian fans so I tried to duck for cover. But there was no cover anywhere and they won the race. It was thrilling experience. My goal was at the far end of the field from the dressing room, so they carried me about 150 yards."
Bobby Annis, the sixth St. Louisan on the squad, was held in reserve by Coach Bill Jenrey.
He was a keen observer of tactics. "I saw a lot in the play of the fullbacks who faced our team," said Annis. "I think I should be a better player for the experience."
Among the U.S. players most often chosen for praise by Brazilians were John (Clarkie) Souza, inside forward, and the wing halfbacks, Ed, Mcllvenney and Walter Bahr.
Souza's ball control control and speedy solo advances thrilled the spectators and baffled baffled defending players.
It was the flawless and tireless midfield work of the Scotch-born Mcllvenney and the sturdy Philadelphian, Bahr, that broke down the English attack.