SAO PAULO – Brazil’s stunning 7-1 defeat to Germany in Tuesday’s semifinal means the United States no longer holds an old, obscure, but definitely unwanted World Cup record.
Amid all the carnage in Belo Horizonte, all the tears and recriminations from a stunned host nation, was a bare statistical reality. Never before had a team lost a World Cup semifinal by such a resounding margin.
A six-goal deficit – it would have been seven if not for Oscar’s late consolation strike – is a mark that had never been matched and may never be bettered.
U.S. soccer fans who are new to the game might be surprised to learn that the American national team had ever made it to the World Cup’s final four. But it did, back in 1930, taking part in the very first semifinal of all.
On a rain-sodden pitch in Montevideo, Uruguay, a U.S. team featuring six players who were born overseas (sound familiar?), mainly from Great Britain, went down 6-1 to Argentina, having lost Ralph Tracy to a broken leg in the early stages and with no replacements allowed.
It was a mark that would be equaled just a day later when Uruguay thumped Yugoslavia by the same scoreline, but never bettered until Tuesday night at the Estadio Mineirao. Brazil beat Sweden 7-1 in the final group round in 1958 but that doesn’t officially count as a semifinal. West Germany matched the 1930 scorelines of Argentina and Uruguay when it beat Austria 6-1 in 1954. Brazil’s humiliation at home outstrips all of those.
According to the U.S. Soccer website:
Along the way to the semifinals, the U.S. picked up the nickname “the shot-putters” from the French, because of the tremendous bulk of the American players. According to the Uruguayan media, “the shot-putters” entered the semifinals as one of the favorites to take home the prize. The USA’s World Cup title dreams ended shortly after the semifinals kicked off, as Argentina crushed the U.S. 6-1 in front of 112,000 people at Centenario Stadium in Montevideo on July 26, 1930.
Back then the World Cup was in its earliest stages and was a world removed from the global extravaganza we see today. The tournament was reported internationally, but without the same all-encompassing fervor we see in the 21st century.
For Brazil, Tuesday was the worst outcome imaginable, and there was no place to hide.
“This is a catastrophic, terrible loss,” Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. “The worst loss.”
It was indeed. This corner of World Cup history now belongs exclusively to Brazil, and the United States no longer has a share in it.
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