70 years ago a bunch of St. Louis kids helped to pull off soccer's 'Miracle on Grass'

70 years ago a bunch of St. Louis kids helped to pull off soccer's 'Miracle on Grass'

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World Cup Champs

1950 US World Cup soccer team that upset England 1-0. -- Members of the 1950 US World Cup team included Frank Wallace (front left) Ed McIhlvenney, Gino Pariani, Joe Gaetjens, John Souza, Eddie Souza, Joe Maca (back left), Charley Columbo, Frank Borghi, Harry Keough, Walter Bahr and Coach Bill Jeffriey. Photo from REUTERS

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.

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