The 1990 USMNT Gets to Their First World Cup in 40 Years

FIFA awarded the 1994 World Cup to the United States, one of the catalysts to growth in the support in this country. One problem: When this decision was made the USMNT had not made the World Cup since 1950. The host country gets an automatic bid, but for national pride the team wanted to make the 1990 Cup and end the drought. Coach Bob Gansler chose to go with college stars over indoor soccer veterans for fitness reasons, but it meant he would have a very young team. Their journey through qualifying was difficult and intense, resulting in a must-win game versus Trinidad and Tobago. They pulled out a dramatic 1-0 victory and started making plans for the World Cup in Italy. The team was handed a tough draw, facing three quality European teams, and lost all three. However, there was a moral victory in a hard-fought 1-0 loss to Italy in Rome, a game the Italians expected to win by double digits. The experience was truly the beginning of a new age in American soccer (they’ve been to every World Cup since) and The Guardian takes a multi-faceted look back at the scrappy group of college kids that made it happen.

An oral history of USA at Italia ’90: the World Cup that changed US soccer, 6.10.15