Any soccer fan knows of the USA’s historic 1-0 win over England in the 1950 World Cup (and if you don’t, you’ll be hearing enough about it in the next two weeks to fill you in). But, 34 years ago today, an American team of sorts played the English in a little-known, little-remembered game that’s but a footnote in US soccer history.
The event was the US Bicentennial Cup, held in (you guessed it) 1976 and featuring England, Italy, Brazil and a “USA” team made up of stars from the North American Soccer League. Thus, international stars such as Pele and Bobby Moore – Rodney Marsh and George Best were originally on the team, but pulled out – made up the American side, along with just six actual Yanks.
As you might have guessed, it didn’t go well.
The US team lost 4-0 to Italy on May 23 in Washington, then 2-0 to Brazil in Seattle five days later (Pele refused to play against his countrymen, not that it mattered). And, on May 31, in front of 16,239 Memorial Day celebrants at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, England delivered the final blow with a 3-1 win. Here are some second half highlights (which do not, unfortunately, include the only USA goal of the tournament, scored by Tampa Bay’s Stewart Scullion):
The Brazilians won the round-robin tournament with a 3-0-0 mark. By the way, the English FA does not consider this match to be an official one, and awarded no caps to its players. A 2001 FIFA decision would have retroactively removed it from any list of official internationals anyway, as it was not between selections of two FIFA member nations.
So, just so you have it, here is the official list of meetings between the US and England, in the lead-up to the June 12 World Cup fixture:
|6/29/1950||USA 1-0||Belo Horizonte, Brazil|
|6/8/1953||England 6-3||New York|
|5/28/1959||England 8-1||Los Angeles|
|5/27/1964||England 10-0||New York|
|6/16/1985||England 5-0||Los Angeles|
|6/9/1993||USA 2-0||Foxboro, MA|
If they hold a Sesquicentennial Cup in 2026, I would imagine we could use our actual national team (though 2026 is a World Cup year and they’ll be a bit busy, hopefully).