USA & The World Cup: The Miracle Match

The day several part-time players, including three non American citizens, defended the USMNT against the so called "Soccer Kings" and created one of the biggest surprises of World Cup's history

miracle of belo horizonte usa

Today’s story is about power of will, grit, determination… There are many words to describe a miracle that happened during the World Cup 1950 hosted in Brazil. 

On FIFA’s website, they refer to this game as one of the biggest upsets of the tournament’s history. The USMNT has entered the biggest soccer tournament of the world with several part-time players, including three that were not even American citizens which was extremely rare during those days.

usa vs england the miracle match

When the 1950 World Cup started, the USMNT had a 7-match losing streak having conceded 45 goals and scored only 2. Meanwhile, people used call the English team “Soccer Kings” as they were, arguably, the best team of the world and one of the favorites to win the whole tournament.

The Game at Independencia Stadium

When England and the US faced each other, at the Independencia Stadium located in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, the most unthinkable has happened. At the 38th minute of the match, Haiti-born Joe Gatjens scored the only and winning goal and the USMNT left Belo Horizonte with three points. That is why this game is also referred to as The Miracle of Belo Horizonte.

The Miracle Match

world cup 1950 usa vs england

This game and the whole squad were profiled by the author Geoffrey Douglas in his book “The Game Of Their Lives”, that later on was turned into a movie named “The Miracle Match”.

On FIFA’s website, they refer to this game as one of the biggest upsets of soccer history.

What The Players Said

“You hustle and you hold off a team for a while, but you usually don’t hold off a team that is much better than you as long as we did – especially when we scored an early goal, relatively speaking. We would have been happy with a 2-0 loss. In our wildest dreams we didn’t think we’d ever win. We just thought, ‘We’ll do the best we can and hope for a good result’.”

Harry Keough, USMNT center back.

“Not a lot went right. It was one of those games where we were destined to lose. We hit the post several times in the first-half and twice again in the second. They got the goal, an absolute fluke of a goal, and our heads dropped. After that, I think we believed that it wasn’t going to be our day and we stopped playing. We could have played them 100 times and beaten them comfortably on 99 occasions.”

Sir Tom Finney, England winger

And Then What...

England never recovered from their shock loss agains the USMNT and left the tournament at the first stage. The USMNT lost to Chile and spent 40 years without ever going to the World Cup again.