United States men's national soccer team explained

United States
Fifa Trigramme:USA
Association:United States
Soccer Federation
Coach: Bob Bradley
Asst Manager: Peter Nowak
Most Caps:Cobi Jones (164)
Top Scorer:Landon Donovan (37)
Captain:Carlos Bocanegra
Fifa Rank:20
Fifa Max:4
Fifa Max Date:April 2006
Fifa Min:35
Fifa Min Date:October 1997
Elo Rank:12
Elo Max:11
Elo Max Date:July and September 2005
Elo Min:85
Elo Min Date:October 1968
Pattern La1:_borderonwhite
Pattern B1:_Us_kit
Pattern Ra1:_borderonwhite
Pattern La2:_redborder
Pattern B2:_redcollar
Pattern Ra2:_redborder
First Game:Unofficial: USA 0 - 1
(Newark; November 28, 1885)
Official: 2 - 3 USA
(Stockholm; August 20, 1916)
Largest Win: USA 8 - 0
(Carson; June 15, 2008)
Largest Loss: 11 - 0 USA
(Oslo; 11 August 1948)
World Cup Apps:8
World Cup First:1930
World Cup Best:3rd, 1930
Regional Name:Gold Cup
Regional Cup Apps:9
Regional Cup First:1991
Regional Cup Best:Winners, 1991, 2002, 2005, 2007
Confederations Cup Apps:3
Confederations Cup First:1992
Confederations Cup Best:3rd, 1992, 1999

The United States men's national soccer team is controlled by the United States Soccer Federation. Though soccer has not traditionally had a high profile in American sporting life, since the 1970s the sport has steadily grown in popularity, and the men's national team has risen to become one of the strongest teams in CONCACAF, is ranked 20th in the FIFA World Rankings,[1] and has appeared in the last five FIFA World Cups.


The 19th century: first internationals outside the United Kingdom

In 1885, the United States and Canada played the first unofficial international match held outside the United Kingdom. Canada defeated the U.S. 1-0 in Newark, New Jersey.[2] The United States had their revenge the following year when they beat Canada 1-0, also in Newark. These two matches were the only internationals played outside the U.K. in the 19th century. Thirty years later, the United States played its first official international match under the auspices of the US Football Association against Sweden in Stockholm, where the U.S. won 3-2.

The 1904 Summer Olympic Games: double medallists

The U.S. has earned both silver and bronze medals in men's soccer at the 1904 Summer Olympics held in St. Louis, Missouri. The tournament only featured three teams: Galt F.C. from Canada, and Christian Brothers' College and St. Rose Parish from the United States. Galt defeated both American teams to win the gold, while Christian Brothers' defeated St. Rose in their third match, after two scoreless draws.

1930: the first World Cup

In the 1930 World Cup, the U.S. won its first match in World Cup history, beating Belgium 3-0 at the Estadio Gran Parque Central in Montevideo, Uruguay. The match occurred simultaneously with another across town at the Estadio Pocitos where France defeated Mexico.

In the next match, the United States again won 3-0, this time against Paraguay. For many years, FIFA credited Bert Patenaude with the first and third goals, and his team-mate Tom Florie with the second.[3] Other sources described the second goal as having been scored by Patenaude[4] [5] or by Paraguayan Ramon Gonzales.[6] . In November 2006, FIFA announced that it had accepted evidence from "various historians and football fans" that Patenaude scored all three goals, and was thus the first person to score a hat-trick in a World Cup finals tournament.[7] Having reached the semifinals with two wins, the American side lost 6-1 to Argentina. Although no criteria for the judgement has been released, FIFA list the U.S. as finishing in third place, above fellow semifinalists Yugoslavia. This is still the team's highest World Cup finish.

1950 World Cup: upset of England

In the 1950 World Cup, the United States lost its first match 3-1 against Spain, but then won 1-0 against England in what is widely considered one of the greatest upsets in football history, England having recently beaten the rest of Europe 6-1 in an exhibition match. Defeat to Chile by a 5-2 margin in the third group match saw the U.S. eliminated from the tournament. It would be four decades before the United States would again make another appearance at the World Cup.


Despite the United States' relative success in early international tournaments, soccer remained a niche sport in the U.S. for many years. In the three decades after the 1950 World Cup the only victories for the United States came against Haiti, Bermuda, Honduras, Canada, Poland, and China.

The 1980s

After the enthusiasm caused by the creation and rise of the North American Soccer League in the 1970s, it seemed as though the U.S. men's national team would soon become a powerful force in world football. Such hopes were not realized, however, and the United States was not considered a strong side in this era. From 1981 to 1983, only two international matches were played.

Team America in the NASL

To provide a more stable national team program and renew interest in the NASL, U.S. Soccer entered the national team into the league for the 1983 season as Team America. This team lacked the continuity and regularity of training that conventional clubs enjoy, and many players were unwilling to play for the team instead of their own clubs. Embarrassingly, Team America finished the season at the bottom of the league. Recognizing that it had not achieved its objectives, U.S Soccer cancelled this experiment, and the national team was withdrawn from the NASL.

The 1984 Summer Olympics

U.S. Soccer made the decision to target the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California and the 1986 World Cup as means of rebuilding the national team and its fan base. The International Olympic Committee provided what appeared to be a major boost to the United States' chances of advancing beyond the group stage when it declared that Olympic teams from outside Europe and South America could field full senior teams as long as those senior players had never played in a World Cup, including professionals. U.S. Soccer immediately rearranged its Olympic roster, cutting many collegiate players and replacing them with professionals. Despite this, the U.S. finished 1-1-1 and failed to make the second round.

Failure to qualify for the 1986 World Cup

The United States did bid to host the 1986 World Cup after Colombia withdrew due to economic concerns. However, Mexico beat out the U.S. and Canada to host the tournament, despite concerns that the tournament would have to be moved again because of a major earthquake that hit Mexico shortly before the tournament.

In the last game of the qualifying tournament, the U.S. needed only a draw against Costa Rica, whom they had beaten 3-0 in the Olympics the year before, in order to reach the final qualification group against Honduras and Canada. Controversially, U.S. Soccer scheduled the game to be played at El Camino College in Torrance, California, an area with many Costa Rican expatriates, and marketed the game almost exclusively to the Costa Rican community, even providing Costa Rican folk dances as half time entertainment.http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/inside_game/michael_lewis/news/2000/11/10/lewis_history/ A 35th minute goal by Evaristo Coronado won the match for Costa Rica, and kept the United States from reaching a fourth World Cup finals.http://us-soccer.com/secured/articles/viewArticle.jsp_3063.html

Rebuilding for the 1990 World Cup

By the end of 1984 the NASL had folded, and there was no senior outdoor league operating in the United States.[8] As a result, many top American players, such as John Kerr, Paul Caligiuri, Eric Eichmann, and Bruce Murray moved overseas, primarily to Europe.

In 1988, U.S. Soccer attempted to reimplement its national-team-as-club concept, offering contracts to national team players in order to build an international team with something of a club ethos, while loaning them out to their club teams, saving U.S. Soccer the expense of their salaries. This brought many key veterans back to the team, while the success of the NASL a decade earlier had created an influx of talent from burgeoning grass-roots level clubs and youth programs. Thus U.S. Soccer sought to establish a more stable foundation for participation in the 1990 World Cup than had existed for previous tournaments.

The 1990s: Rebirth for American soccer

The 1990 World Cup

In 1989, FIFA named the United States hosts of the 1994 World Cup, but it did so under significant international criticism because of the perceived weakness of the national team and the lack of a professional outdoor league. This criticism was diminished somewhat when a 1-0 win against Trinidad and Tobago, its first away win in nearly two years, in the last match of the 1989 CONCACAF Championship earned the United States its first World Cup finals appearance in 40 years.

For the 1990 World Cup in Italy, two of the team's more experienced players, Rick Davis and Hugo Perez, were recovering from serious injuries and unavailable for selection, and manager Bob Gansler selected many inexperienced players and recent college graduates. . They were beaten 5-1 by Czechoslovakia in its opening game, Caligiuri scoring the consolation goal. The match against host team Italy resulted in a 1-0 defeat. In the U.S.’s last game, the team fell 2-1 to Austria. The U.S. was eliminated with a 0-3 record.

CONCACAF success

In March 1991 the United States won the North America Cup, tying Mexico 2-2 and beating Canada 2-0. This was followed in May by a 1-0 victory over Uruguay in the World Series of Soccer. The national team then went undefeated in the 1991 CONCACAF Gold Cup, beating Mexico 2-0 in the semifinals and Honduras 4-3 on penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw in the final. In 1992, the U.S. continued its run of success, taking the U.S. Cup with victories over Ireland and Portugal, followed by a draw with Italy.

Hosting the 1994 World Cup

Having qualified automatically as host, The U.S. opened its tournament schedule with a 1-1 draw against Switzerland in the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit, Michigan, the first World Cup game played indoors. In its second game, the U.S. faced Colombia, then ranked fourth in the world, at the Rose Bowl. Aided by an own goal from Andrés Escobar, who was later murdered in his home country, it is believed, for this mistake, the United States won 2-1. Despite a 1-0 loss to Romania in its final group game, the U.S. made it to the knockout round for the first time since 1930.

In the second round, the U.S. lost 1-0 to eventual champions Brazil.[9]

1998 World Cup: 32nd out of 32

In the 1998 World Cup in France, the team lost all three group matches, 2-0 to, 2-1 to Iran, and 1-0 to, and so finished in last place in its group, and 32nd in the field of 32. Head coach Steve Sampson received much of the blame for the performance as a result of abruptly cutting team captain John Harkes, whom Sampson had ironically named "Captain for Life" shortly before, as well as several other players who were instrumental to the qualifying effort, from the squad.[10]

The 2000s: a power in CONCACAF

The 2002 World Cup: quarterfinalists

The United States, now led by successful MLS and college coach Bruce Arena, won their second Gold Cup as hosts of the 2002 tournament. Arena used the competition as preparation for his team's campaign in the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan. The establishment of Major League Soccer had an effect on the development of the national team similar to that of the NASL during the 1980s. Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley emerged as talented, young stars, while experienced veterans like Brian McBride, Cobi Jones, and Claudio Reyna entered the prime of their careers. These players helped form the core of the team that earned the United States' best finish at the World Cup since 1930. In the Group Stage, a 3-2 win over Portugal, a 1-1 draw with co-host and eventual fourth place finisher, South Korea, and a 3-1 defeat to already eliminated Poland were sufficient to reach the knockout rounds. In the Round of 16 the U.S. faced continental rivals Mexico for the first time in a World Cup, defeating them 2-0. In the quarterfinals the United States lost 1-0 to eventual runners-up Germany.

The United States followed up this success by winning its third Gold Cup, and second out of three, in 2005.

The 2006 World Cup: disappointment

After finishing top of the CONCACAF qualification tournament, the U.S. was drawn into Group E along with the Czech Republic, Italy, and Ghana. Since three of the teams were ranked in the top 10 of the FIFA World Rankings at the time, it was considered a Group of Death.

The United States opened its tournament with a 3-0 loss to the Czech Republic. The team then drew 1-1 against Italy,[11] the only game which the Italians failed to win before the tournament final against France. The United States was then knocked out of the tournament when beaten 2–1 by Ghana in its final group match.[12]

2007 and beyond

After failing to maintain his 2002 success at the 2006 World Cup, Bruce Arena was eventually replaced by his assistant with the national team and Chivas USA manager Bob Bradley, whose reign began with four wins and one draw in friendlies leading up to the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, hosted by the United States.

They won all three of their group stage matches, against Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, and El Salvador. With a 2-1 win over Panama in the quarterfinals, they advanced to face Canada in the semifinals, in which the U.S. registered a 2-1 win. In the final, the United States came from behind to beat Mexico 2-1.[13]

The team's disappointing Copa América 2007 campaign ended after three defeats in the group stage against Argentina, Paraguay, and Colombia. The decision by U.S. Soccer to field what many considered a second tier team was questioned by fans and media alike.[14]

After winning seven of eight matches against Barbados, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, and Cuba in the Second and Third Rounds of qualification for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the U.S. will compete throughout 2009 in the Fourth Round, or hexagonal, against Honduras, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, and El Salvador. Due to its victory in the 2007 Gold Cup, the United States will also participate in the 2009 Confederations Cup, and has been drawn against Italy, Brazil, and Egypt for the Group Stage. Finally, the U.S. will also compete in the 2009 Gold Cup, and has an automatic berth into the competition along with Canada and Mexico.

The United States opened 2009 with a 3-2 friendly win over Sweden following the January Training Camp for MLS and Scandinavian-based players, which has become an annual tradition during the Bradley Era. Shortly thereafter the U.S. opened the Fourth and final round of CONCACAF Qualifying for the 2010 World Cup with its third consecutive 2-0 home qualifying win against Mexico, with all three of them coming at Columbus Crew Stadium. This stretched the United States' streak to 11 games without loss since 2000.

One of the hallmarks of Bradley's tenure as national team manager has been his willingness to cap a large number of players, many of whom for the very first time. This practice has been praised by those wanting to see a more diverse player pool for the national team, as well as criticized by those hoping for more consistency and leadership from core players.[15] This has coincided with many young American players like Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Freddy Adu, and Maurice Edu making their first moves to European clubs, meaning that more American players are gaining experience at the highest levels of club and international soccer than at any other time in the team's history.

Schedule and recent results

Matches from the past six months, as well as any future scheduled matches.

DateVenueOpponentCompetitionResultU.S. Goals (Goal #)
September 10, 2008 Toyota ParkWC Q R33-0 WBradley (3)
Dempsey (13)
Ching (8)
October 11, 2008 Robert F. Kennedy Memorial StadiumWC Q R36-1 WBeasley (16, 17)
Donovan (37)
Ching (9)
Altidore (2)
Onyewu (5)
October 15, 2008 Hasely Crawford StadiumWC Q R32-1 LDavies (1)
November 19, 2008 Dick's Sporting Goods ParkWC Q R32-0 WCooper (2)
Adu (1)
January 24, 2009 The Home Depot CenterF3-2 WKljestan (1, 2, 3)
February 11, 2009 Columbus Crew StadiumWC Q R42-0 WBradley (4, 5)
March 28, 2009 Estadio CuscatlánWC Q R4
April 1, 2009 LP FieldWC Q R4
June 3, 2009 Estadio Ricardo Saprissa AymáWC Q R4
June 6, 2009 Soldier FieldWC Q R4
June 15, 2009 Loftus Versfeld StadiumCC G
June 18, 2009 Loftus Versfeld StadiumCC G
June 21, 2009 Royal Bafokeng StadiumCC G
August 12, 2009 Estadio AztecaWC Q R4
September 5, 2009 Rio Tinto StadiumWC Q R4
September 9, 2009 Hasely Crawford StadiumWC Q R4
October 10, 2009 Estadio Olimpico MetropolitanoWC Q R4
October 14, 2009 Robert F. Kennedy Memorial StadiumWC Q R4

World Cup Qualifying

See main article: 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONCACAF).

Third Round Group 1

See main article: 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification - CONCACAF Third Round.

Fourth Round

See main article: 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification - CONCACAF Fourth Round.

Confederations Cup

See main article: 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Group Stage Group B


Current squad

Matchday squad v Mexico

The following 18-man matchday squad was named for the 2-0 2010 World Cup Qualifying Fourth Round win against Mexico at Columbus Crew Stadium on February 11, 2009.

Caps and goals are current as of the completion of the 2-0 2010 World Cup Qualifying Fourth Round win against Mexico at Columbus Crew Stadium on February 11, 2009.

Recent call-ups

The following players were named to a matchday squad in the last six months, but were not named to the matchday squad for the 2-0 2010 World Cup Qualifying Fourth Round win against Mexico at Columbus Crew Stadium on February 11, 2009.

PlayerDoB (Age)CapsGoalsClubMost Recent Call-Up
Jon Busch1976 8, mf=yes10 Chicago Firev ; January 24, 2009
Troy Perkins1981 7, mf=yes10 Vålerengav ; January 24, 2009
Steve Cherundolo1979 2, mf=yes512 Hannover 96v ; October 11, 2008
Michael Orozco1986 2, mf=yes10 San Luisv ; October 15, 2008
Cory Gibbs1980 1, mf=yes190 Colorado Rapidsv ; November 19, 2008
Clarence Goodson1982 5, mf=yes20 Startv ; November 19, 2008
Drew Moor1984 1, mf=yes50 FC Dallasv ; November 19, 2008
Ugo Ihemelu1983 4, mf=yes20 Colorado Rapidsv ; January 24, 2009
Michael Parkhurst1984 1, mf=yes50 Nordsjællandv ; January 24, 2009
Chris Wingert1982 6, mf=yes10 Real Salt Lakev ; January 24, 2009
Eddie Lewis1974 5, mf=yes8210 Los Angeles Galaxyv ; September 10, 2008
Maurice Edu1986 4, mf=yes100 Rangersv ; October 15, 2008
Danny Szetela1987 6, mf=yes30 Bresciav ; October 15, 2008
Freddy Adu1989 6, mf=yes121 Monacov ; November 19, 2008
Pablo Mastroeni1976 8, mf=yes620 Colorado Rapidsv ; November 19, 2008
Brian Carroll1981 7, mf=yes70 Columbus Crewv ; January 24, 2009
Eddie Gaven1986 10, mf=yes60 Columbus Crewv ; January 24, 2009
Robbie Rogers1987 5, mf=yes10 Columbus Crewv ; January 24, 2009
John Thorrington1979 10, mf=yes40 Chicago Firev ; January 24, 2009
Eddie Johnson1984 3, mf=yes3712 Cardiff Cityv ; September 10, 2008
Davy Arnaud1980 6, mf=yes20 Kansas City Wizardsv ; November 19, 2008
Conor Casey1981 7, mf=yes90 Colorado Rapidsv ; November 19, 2008
Kenny Cooper1984 10, mf=yes42 FC Dallasv ; January 24, 2009
Charlie Davies1986 6, mf=yes51 Hammarbyv ; January 24, 2009
Chris Rolfe1983 1, mf=yes100 Chicago Firev ; January 24, 2009

Competitive record

See main article: United States men's national soccer team cup results.

The United States has competed at the Olympics (when that tournament was considered a full international tournament), the FIFA World Cup, the FIFA Confederations Cup, as well as NAFC and CONCACAF regional tournaments. The U.S. has also played in the Copa America by invitation, as well as several minor tournaments.

The best result for the United States in a World Cup came in 1930 when they finished third. The U.S. took the silver and bronze medals at the 1904 Olympics. In the Confederations Cup, the United States has finished third in both the 1992 and 1999 editions.

In regional competitions, the United States had never finished higher than second until the 1991 Gold Cup. Since then, they have won four titles. In 1995, the U.S. finished fourth at the Copa América.

Famous former players

Centurians and top scorers


The United States has had more players win 100 caps than any other nation. The following players have won 100 or more caps with the national team:

1Cobi Jones164151992–2004
2Jeff Agoos13441988–2003
3Marcelo Balboa128131988–2000
4Claudio Reyna11281994–2006
5Paul Caligiuri11051984–1997
rowspan=2 align=center6Landon Donovan106372000–
Eric Wynalda106341990–2000
8Kasey Keller10201990–2007
9Earnie Stewart101171990–2004
10Tony Meola10001988–2002
Joe-Max Moore100241992–2002

Top scorers

The following players are the top scorers in national team history:

1Landon Donovan371062000–
2Eric Wynalda341061990–2000
3Brian McBride30951993–2006
4Joe-Max Moore241001992–2002
5Bruce Murray21861985–1993
6DaMarcus Beasley17832001–
Earnie Stewart171011990–2004
8Cobi Jones151641992–2004
9Marcelo Balboa131281988–2000
Clint Dempsey13472004–
Hugo Pérez13731984–1994

Head coaches



Third Place (1): 1930

Silver Medal (1): 1904

Bronze Medal (1): 1904

Third Place (2): 1992, 1999


Winners (4): 1991, 2002, 2005, 2007

Runners-up (3): 1989, 1993, 1998

Third Place (2): 1996, 2003

* - Before the FIFA World Cup began in 1930 the Football Tournament at the Summer Olympics was considered both a full international tournament and the World Championship of Football. Since then it has become a mostly youth international tournament (Currently U-23 plus 3 "overage" players), at least for men. This is why Uruguay, for example, considers its gold medals from the 1924 and 1928 Summer Olympics as equal to its World Cup wins in 1930 and 1950.

See also

External links

Notes and References

  1. Web site: November 2008 World Rankings.
  2. As the U.S. v Canada match was unofficial, the first official match outside Britain was held in 1901 between Argentina and Uruguay.
  3. Web site: FIFA: USA - Paraguay match report. FIFA. 2006-06-09.
  4. Web site: CNN/Sports Illustrated - Bert Patenaude. CNN. 2006-06-09.
  5. Web site: Planet World Cup - World Cup Trivia. PlanetWorldCup.com. 2006-06-09.
  6. Web site: The Football Association 20 World Cup Facts. The FA. 2006-06-09.
  7. Web site: FIFA World Cup hat-tricks. FIFA. 2006-11-10.
  8. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F00C1EFA355C0C718EDDAD0894DD484D81&n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fSubjects%2fS%2fSoccer U.S. Soccer Team Hindered
  9. http://soccernet.espn.go.com/columns/story?id=370490&root=worldcup&&cc=5901 ESPNsoccernet - World Cup - 'Winning is the only option'
  10. Web site: Sampson destroyed US unity with late changes to lineup. SoccerTimes.com. 2006-06-08.
  11. Web site: Match Report: Italy - USA. June 16, 2006. 17 June 2006. FIFA. mdy.
  12. News: Ghana 2-1 USA. BBC Sport. BBC. 22 June 2006. 12 February 2009.
  13. Web site: U.S. defeats Mexico again in Gold Cup final. MSNBC. 2007-06-30.
  14. Web site: South American soccer federation miffed at U.S.. ESPNsoccernet. 2007-07-04. 2007-07-04.
  15. Web site: Krishnaiyer. Kartik. Bob Bradley’s US Squad Stale and Predictable. 2008-08-15. Major League Soccer Talk.