The Game of Their Lives | 2005
In the spring of 1950, the United States was extended an invitation to compete in the World Cup in Brazil. Faced with budgetary restrictions and no official soccer team to call their own, the U.S. set out to recruit players in the soccer hotbed of St. Louis, Missouri, where they found a group of young friends with no professional or international playing experience, only an unabashed love of the game. Leaving behind their wives, girlfriends and families for New York, Frank Borghi, Harry Keough, Gino Pariani, Frank 'Pee Wee' Wallace and Charles "Gloves" Colombo joined Philadelphian Walter Bahr, Haitian-born New Yorker Joe Gatjeans and additional East Coasters for a short 10-day training period in which these young men from different races, religions and backgrounds were forced to see past one another's differences and become a full-fledged team. With the odds considerably against them both abroad and at home, the U.S. team arrived in Rio with little training and even less fanfare. After a crushing defeat by Spain in the World Cup opener, the Americans expected more of the same when they arrived to play England's highest-ranked team, which indicated such all-time soccer legends as Stan Mortensen and Billy Wright, on June 19, 1950. But then something remarkable happened: the Brazilian fans' lack of support for England, the pre-tournament favorite, buoyed the Americans on and this team of underdog athletes, who never knew real victory and true glory in all their humble lives, clung to their patriotism and their love of a sport, and scored a victory that did more than just provide an upset defeat--it opened the door for soccer in the United States. The American World Cup of 1950 would soon quietly return to their families and jobs, treasuring this historic victory, which would forever be known to them as The Game of Their Lives.