United States

USA soccer team

World Cup Participation

1930, 1934, 1950, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2022



USA Soccer Team History

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The first USA soccer team was put together in 1885 but its first official match wasn’t until 1916. The USA lost their first, albeit unofficial, match to Canada 1-0 but defeated Sweden 3-2 in Stockholm in their first official match.

An invitee to the first World Cup in Uruguay, the USMNT surprisingly made the semifinals as a group winner. In a 3-0 win over Paraguay in their second match, Bert Patenaude scored the first ever hat trick in a World Cup. In the semifinals, the USA fell 6-1 to Argentina.

The 1934 World Cup followed a single-elimination format, so the US were eliminated by Italy in a 7-1 first round defeat. In the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, the USA failed to make it past the group stage but pulled off a 1-0 upset win over England in the “Miracle on Grass”. Fans would have to wait another 40 years for another United States World Cup appearance.

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Dry Spell and Return to Relevancy

In the meantime, the national team went through its worst ever period and the domestic league folded in 1984. The USMNT was a win or draw away from qualifying for the 1986 World Cup but lost 1-0 to Costa Rica at home.

With a second-place finish at the 1989 CONCACAF Championship, the USA sealed their first World Cup qualification in four decades. At Italy 1990, the USMNT lost all three of their games but had the 1994 World Cup to look forward to as they automatically qualified as hosts.

In between the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, the USA soccer team won their first major trophy as they won the 1991 CONCACAF Championship, renamed the Gold Cup. The US swept their group games and got an impressive 2-0 win over rivals Mexico. The final vs. Honduras finished in a scoreless draw but the USMNT won 4-3 on penalties in Los Angeles.

At the 1994 World Cup, which they hosted, the USA made it past the first round for the first time since 1930. They lost 1-0 to eventual winners Brazil in the round of 16 and finished with a win, draw and two losses. Four years later at France ‘98, the USA lost all three group games and crashed out early.

Measurable Improvements

Landon Donovan won best young player at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan. With Bruce Arena at the helm, the USMNT had their best finish at a World Cup since 1930 as they made the quarterfinals. In the round of 16, the USA won their first ever World Cup meeting with Mexico by a 2-0 scoreline.

From 2002 to 2007, the US won three of four Gold Cups but were eliminated in the group stage at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Arena departed following the tournament and Bob Bradley was hired in 2007. His career got off to an auspicious start as the USA defeated Mexico in the 2007 Gold Cup final, which qualified the USA for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.

The USA, with Donovan, Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey in their prime, ended Spain’s 35-game winning streak in the Confederations Cup and made it to the final. With a 2-0 lead over Brazil in the final, it looked like the US would win their first FIFA trophy, however, Brazil scored three unanswered goals and completed a comeback win.

Next year, the US advanced to the round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup but were eliminated by Ghana, 2-1. In August 2012, the USMNT got their first win at Azteca in 75 years, a 1-0 victory in a friendly. Mexican-American Michael Orozco scored the game’s only goal.

In 2014, under Jurgen Klinsmann, the USA qualified for the knockout stage in two consecutive World Cups for the first time ever. They were eliminated by Belgium in the round of 16 but Tim Howard set a World Cup record with 15 saves in the match.

The USA failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, which was the first one they missed in over 30 years. Current head coach Gregg Berhalter was hired the next year and he’s overseen one of the best periods in team history.

2021 was a successful year for him and the USMNT as they won the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League and the Gold Cup. Finishing third in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying standings, the USA booked a place at Qatar 2022.

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