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Poll: Greatest USA Upset?

In the wake of the Americans' 2-0 shocker over Spain today.....

By Steve Goff  |  June 24, 2009; 5:45 PM ET
Categories:  History , Poll , U.S. men's national team  
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Next: Thursday Kickaround


Wow, 28% for today's victory.

While it was a very nice win, I had to vote with a win that occured in the World Cup.

Just a little bit of a bigger stage there.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | June 24, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

I still have to go with 1950 because:
1. it was the World Cup
2. if there were any rankings then, England would have been #1 and we would not have been in the top 100.
3. two of the USA's best players missed the tournament because they had to work

This is #2.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 24, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I-270Exit has it right on IMHO.

Still a historical win today.

Posted by: JP-10 | June 24, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised that 1998 over Brazil is not getting more votes. Is anyone going to write a song about any player on any of the other winning teams?

Posted by: LookingDangerous | June 24, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

1950, clearly. First we didn't have a proffessional league and all of our players were amateurs. We didn't play it on home soil with the entire nation behind us. No one in the US even cared once the players returned in 1950. Also England was the best team at the time, and it was in the World Cup. Today was great win, but it was be no means the greatest upset in US history.

Posted by: dcuni_ted | June 24, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm in the mood for paella washed down with rioja.

Posted by: OWNTF | June 24, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

The 2002 win over Portugal takes the cake. Modern game (sorry 1950), Portugal were HUGE favorites, and we go up 3-0 at one point. To me that is the greatest day in the history of US soccer. The second greatest day was beating Mexico 2-0 in that every same Cup. Third was 1950, and fourth was today.

Posted by: Hoost | June 24, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

I have to rule out 1950, because I didn't feel it. I respect it, but can only vote on ones I've seen/felt. I said US v Colombia because it was the WC and we were so bad back then and Colombia were considered on a super rolling high like Spain today.

What a game. Totally sends your mind reeling.

Posted by: EssEff | June 24, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I-270Exit1: In 1950, we would definitely have been in the top 100, because there weren't 100 FIFA member nations at that time. Heck, remember how small the World Cup was then?

Elsewhere, given the choice of today, England 1950, Portugal 2002, or Mexico 2002, I picked today.

The reason I'd put it above Portugal 2002: this Spain team (even without Iniesta) is simply a better team than 2002 Portugal, as good as 2002 Portugal was (or should have been).

The reason I'd put it above England 1950: that was effectively a different sport then.

The reason I'd put it above Mexico 2002: this Spain team (even without Iniesta) is way way way better than 2002 Mexico.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | June 24, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

This win is so big, it might get a few seconds on All Things Considered.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 24, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Realness1 | June 24, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

OT: I just found out CSS down here is showin the Freedom-Breakers game.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 24, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Can we appeal the red against Bradley? My stream lagged when it happened, and I didn't get to see it until I got home and checked it on the DVR. Atrocious. I didn't even see it as a foul, much less a red. Larrionda is a joke, yet again.

Anyway, are there procedures in place for an appeal to be made and heard before the final?

Posted by: jpeace121 | June 24, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

I have to think that the 1950 win was the more improbable. Still, this is one for the history books.

It's fascinating, because if Spain had played the "pack 'em in" defensive strategy the USA used, we would never have scored...and Spain probably would have won with a good counterattack. But, if you're Spain, you can't play that way, especially not against the USA.

Posted by: fischy | June 24, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

thanx for the reminder JfATLish. Too bad they look to be playing on gridiron.

I can't really rate much of that list as I was oblivious. Today was amazing and I'd guess that in this day and age, the impact of what the US did today is probably making a bigger impact than the 1950 win.

I'm hoping that there will be a replay or two of the final in case we get back from our camping trip this weekend, really late.

Posted by: DadRyan | June 24, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

I voted for this confed cup win. Here's my rationale:

1. England didn't take the match seriously and assumed they'd waltz to a WC title regardless of who they played. While our win was a huge upset, it was an upset that occurred over a cocky team.

2. This was a match against a side with a 35 game winning streak, a Euro title, some impressive play in the Confed Cup and they didn't take us lightly. And we didn't win 1-0 but 2-0 at a time when the game is much distributed around the world, everyone scouts, the refereeing is much more consistent (just look at what happened to Pele in the 1966 WC) .

3. The win against England was a bigger shock but it was possible in part because it was a shock (just like N.Korea beating Italy).

Posted by: JoeW1 | June 24, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

This win was the biggest because Spain was on the doorstep of history. One more win (over us incidentally) would have given them the greatest winning streak in international soccer history. While those other upsets were big, this was over a team on the verge of being able to claim themselves one of the greatest ever. This is like Douglas vs Tyson.

Posted by: LLChazz | June 24, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Hmm...the real question would be, where would a USA win on Sunday over Brazil rank? I would have to say it would be the biggest win, if not the "greatest upset". I'd also vote for biggest upset, given the 3-0 shellacking last week.

Sure, Brazil won 3-0 last week -- and at times it may have seemed that the USA didn't show up. But, I think the game might have been a lot closer than score indicates. There's reason to think the USA could give 'em a real fight on Sunday.

Brazil's first goal came on a free kick that should never have been awarded. Ramires took a dive, after the defender had pulled his hand away. Even on the goal, it was very close to being offside -- the only reason it might not have been offside is DeMerit was pushed backwards to an even line, which probably should have been called a foul.

The second goal came off the worst mistake any American player has made in years -- a play that has sent Beasley to the end of the bench.

The third goal came a few minutes after Kljestan got red-carded and the USA was forced to play a man down. If the USA wasn't already down 2-0, he probably doesn't make such a desperate tackle.

I don't know if the USA can beat Brazil, but we did have a couple of good chances late in the game, despite being down a man. I'm looking forward to see if the USA can give them a good game.

Posted by: fischy | June 24, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

This win is so big, it made ABC World News Tonight. Sure, it spoiled my DVR viewing later, but nothing can upset me today.

Posted by: dm100 | June 24, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone listened/watched PTI today? What did they say about it? The other day Reali(sp?) had to set them straight over how we advanced over Italy. Wilbon respects soccer but doesn't have much knowledge, so I'm guessing positive things from him. Kornheiser is a hater, but I doubt he'll be down on us today.

Posted by: CACuzcatlan | June 24, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Today's. This was a competitive tournament. Spain had its "A" team and was ranked #1 in the world and on a 35 game unbeaten streak. Given the play of the US in the first two games, this result was unthinkable a week ago. 1950 is special, but belongs in another era. Biggest of the modern era was today.

Posted by: griffin1108 | June 24, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Wilbon & Kornheiser were very respectful. They kept repeating the phrase "remarkable win" or something to that affect. Wilbon was being cautionary by saying this doesn't mean the U.S. will tear up the World Cup, not that anyone was arguing that they would.

It's obvious when they're discussing it that they don't know anything about the sport. You can tell Wilbon doesn't want to be an ass and sneer at a sport that isn't his cup of tea, but at the same time, he knows that he's extremely limited.

Posted by: Tank2 | June 24, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

affect/effect. I passed 10th grade English.

Posted by: Tank2 | June 24, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

It's obvious when they're discussing it that they don't know anything about the sport.

Exactly. So, why does anyone care what PTI or Jim Rome, or any other soccer-ignorant dude say about it?

Posted by: fischy | June 24, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

On a related note, the US failed to score in Argentina, for the first time in five years, when South Carolina governor Mark Sanford ended his extramarital affair.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 24, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

I care what PTI says because that's the way to reach mainstream audiences. If Wilbon and Kornheiser start talking about the national team all the time, people may pay more attention. Its just one possible way the sport can grow in this country.

Posted by: CACuzcatlan | June 24, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Wilbon does respect soccer and doesn't sneer at it the way Kornheiser does. And not many years ago I heard ex-Redskin Doc Walker, when asked what sporting event he would most like to attend, answer "A World Cup final." His audience of sportswriters/football jocks was stupified.

Posted by: b18bolo | June 24, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Wilbon does respect soccer and doesn't sneer at it the way Kornheiser does. And not many years ago I heard ex-Redskin Doc Walker, when asked what sporting event he would most like to attend, answer "A World Cup final." His audience of sportswriters/football jocks was stupified.

Posted by: b18bolo | June 24, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Kornheiser has nothing on Fisher and without Marc around I kind of miss being told on a daily basis how nobody cares about soccer and baseball is the only sport that matters.

Posted by: Southeasterner | June 24, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

I'd put the biggest wins in team history like this:

1989 T&T, which begat the 1994 world cup.
1994 Colombia, which basically begat MLS
2009 Spain, which is the fruit of MLS as a fully fledged, normal rules league.

1950 was a nice aberration, but mythology aside, had no impact on the sport in the US.

Posted by: joshuaostevens | June 24, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

I remember watching the US vs Argentina match in the 1995 Copa America over some Mexican Restaurant in NW DC. Goff actually told us about it.

It was amazing. The US was up 2 - 0 at halftime, but had kind of snuck in there with a couple of unexpected goals. I remember waiting for the Argentine onslaught in the second half and, for a while, it looked like it was coming.

Then, about 15 minutes into the second half, Eric Wynalda scored on a counter attack out of pretty much sheer desire to get to the ball. It was at that moment that you could almost physically see it - all of the US players saying to themselves, "Holy Crap! We can WIN this game!"

From that moment on, every US player played like I had never seen them play before. Even Mike Burns was on fire! Argentina, resting several starters, inserted a few of their stars, but they were chasing the game against an inspired opponent at that point and the score ended 3-0.

That had been my greatest memory of a US victory up until today. I had been telling people for weeks before the 2002 Portugal match that the US had a much better chance than a lot of people thought. The Gold Cup victory over Brazil was an amazing individual performance by Kasey Keller but, hey, it's the Gold Cup! The victory over Columbia in 1997 was great but neither team in that match was very good and we needed a pretty bad own goal to pull it off.

For my money, tonight was my greatest memory watching the US National Team play. It isn't a perfect moment as it wasn't during a World Cup and Spain played poor defense on both goals, but as a moment in the history of US soccer, I would rank it just below the 1950 upset of England.

Great stuff guys!

Posted by: mddeblois | June 24, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Thought you all might enjoy this quote from the BBC web site:

Many would have predicted Spain to win this match with a lot to spare, judging by the ease with which they won their group games.

But Vicente del Bosque's men had only faced New Zealand, Iraq and South Africa in the lead up, and with all respect to those teams, the Americans were always going to be a tougher proposition.

Posted by: glfrazier | June 24, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

If the US were to beat Brasil in the finals (assume they make it to the finals) that would be an important result for us (one of the few FIFA sanctioned men's senior tournaments we would have won outside of Concacaf). But it wouldn't be among our top 5 upsets. This Brasilian side is not a strong side (by their standards). In their time under Dunga, only Kuwait and the USA have been dominated by them, while Brasil has struggled with a lot of countries.

Spain, OTOH, 35 game undefeated streak, 15 consecutive wins, unscored upon in Confed Cup play, rated #1 in the world (that doesn't mean a lot), Euro champion and in top form (unlike the Italians who are clearly aging and need to turn over their roster substantially). We've beaten teams that didn't take us seriously. We've beaten teams that were playing in the US. We've beaten teams who didn't send their best players. We've beaten teams in friendlies. But I would argue that we've never beaten a top flite team in men's tournament play outside of Concacaf that took us seriously other than possibly Colombia in the "94 WC and Mexico in 2002. I don't think Portugal took us seriously in 2002. I don't think England took ANYONE seriously in 1950 and you didn't even qualify back then, you just got an invitation. Argentina didn't send their "A" team in the Copa. The German side we beat in the Confed cup was not a strong team--they were resting on their previous laurels (Germany is Germany therefore they must be a contender).

We beat a very good team with their best players (minus 1 or 2 injuries) playing very good soccer and we did it in the run of play, not on one great shot (Preki vs. Brasil or Gaetjens vs. England) and a lot of bunkering. If there is anything that's true about soccer, it's that on any given day a David can beat a Goliath when they get a lucky goal and Goliath can't finish. But that's not what happened here today. The US played well enough that this was not a 1-0 accident.

Posted by: JoeW1 | June 24, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Although not the World Cup, today was huge. First FIFA final in their history. That statement is tough to beat.

Posted by: croftonpost | June 24, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

I actually went with the dark horse shocker - the Copa match in '95. That was huge in my eyes, first time in the modern era that we beat someone that good in a meaningful competition. And 3-nil! Plus, unlike Colombia in the World Cup, we came out of our shell and played some football. Sampson bombed in '98, but I give him some credit for allowing guys to play the game with some confidence. Something that Arena and Bradley have continued.

I didn't expect the coming out party to be v Argentina in South America. Though Portugal is up there in shock value as well.

Posted by: Kev29 | June 24, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: bigwave | June 24, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Easy one, England 1950.

Today that would be like a USL team beating Spain.

Posted by: GoUnited | June 24, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

A few days, I said in this space offhandedly,while making a different point, "and of course Bradley must go, but....."

There are still some criticisms for Bradley, but my comment was short-sighted. For now, Bradley has a lock on the job at least through the end of the World Cup, and for achieving this result he deserves it.

Posted by: fentysupporter | June 24, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Reignking | June 24, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Re: Highlights (in German):

Sorry, I don't speak German.
Anyone know what Die Cinderella Story means in English?

On another note, after watching those highlights, I have no idea how the ref could have issued a red for that. I'm worrying that at this point we're getting reds based solely on reputation (The Rasheed Wallace Effect?). Our guys need to be aware of that and adjust their game accordingly.

Posted by: Washago | June 24, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Nothing to be curious about. 1950.

Posted by: Curious99 | June 24, 2009 10:47 PM | Report abuse

I agree heartily with JoeW1.

This was it. When we beat Brazil, it was a victory, but mainly for Keller and, of course, Preki. Did they hold together, yes, but we still had more scrap than skill.

This victory, you gotta think, will help us with a world cup group.

I gotta feel that, while the other matches showed that the US have made progress, this showed every single second of the match that WE WERE the better team today.

I think fate played a huge hand in the formation, and the rise of Spector, Feilhaber, Demerit, Davies, and Jozy. (Yes, Feilhaber, without him we'd still be subbing Beasley and Klejstan).

What I don't get is that on, there are practically no comments on the articles. Wierd.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | June 24, 2009 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Highlights in German?

C'mon. This is America. We need a "Gggooooooooollllll..."

"Dos a cero esta perdiendo Espana. Dos a cero esta ganando los Estados Unidos."

Posted by: fischy | June 24, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse

D.C. United officials tell the Insider that ticket sales for the Real Madrid friendly Aug. 9 at FedEx Field are approaching 35,000 -- an impressive total more than six weeks ahead of the match.


Think ticket sales (and visibility) for this match might go up??

Posted by: Curious99 | June 24, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse


USMNT gets a shout-out from Stephen Colbert.

Now let's see if they get the Colbert bump in the next match!

Posted by: mason08 | June 24, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Hello USA People:
My name is Ricardo Pieri
I'm Brazilian and i leaving in São Paulo State (Franca City = 330.000 h = 400 Km to São Paulo City).
I love Soccer and i love USA.
In 1994 World Cup, i watch 6 matches live.
Brazil X Cameroon, Russia, Sweden, USA, Sweden again and THE FINAL with Italy.
Congratulations USA National Team !!!
In next sunday, Brazil X USA (Final Conf. Cup).
GOOD LUCK for americans players

Posted by: ricardopieri | June 24, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse



About victory USA NATIONAL TEAM SOCCER X ENGLAND In 1950 World Cup in Brazil.



Posted by: ricardopieri | June 24, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

The red to Bradley is a blessing, if you ask me. We'll get to see Feilhaber as a center mid?

Posted by: delantero | June 25, 2009 12:06 AM | Report abuse

This was not the best win as the tournament just isn't that prestigious.

Spain started as if the game was already won. On one play, they coughed up the ball in midfield and both center mids stopped and looked at each other. They then watched as Donovan ran 30 yards and shot. I doubt that would happen if was the Euro Championships or World Cup.

By the time they turned on the gas, we were in lock down mode.

Posted by: delantero | June 25, 2009 12:09 AM | Report abuse

I thought that this poll was going to be of all sports in US history. I was telling my Aunt tonight that this was second to the US beating Russia in hockey. That is where I place this match. I look at it as being one of the great upsets in US history. The only thing keeping it from being #1 is that it is not a World Cup championship, as the Gold game in hockey was.
I am holding on and praying for the US to move along from here, as well as in the World Cup.

Posted by: alanherman | June 25, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

@Ricardo Pieri -- your contributions are most welcome. Glad to see such love for Team USA in Brazil. Two questions for you: How old are you, and have you been capped by the Brazilian national team yet? We're always looking for new talent.

Posted by: fischy | June 25, 2009 12:12 AM | Report abuse


You need to look harder for a better highlight reel. Here's what you're looking for:


Posted by: bigwave | June 25, 2009 12:16 AM | Report abuse

Of course, fischy's highlight reel is pretty good...I just thought I'd throw in a mix of languages to show reaction from around the world!

Posted by: bigwave | June 25, 2009 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Hello Fischy:
I have 45 Years Old.
My sun have 18 and a very good soccer player. I have 2 nationatitys = Brazil and Portugal. My sun can player for Brazil or Portugal. Free choice for he.

Posted by: ricardopieri | June 25, 2009 12:50 AM | Report abuse





Posted by: ricardopieri | June 25, 2009 1:11 AM | Report abuse

@ricardo -- Send him over here. After 4 years, he can get USA nationality. Then, he can play for us. And, he can play for DC United....

Posted by: fischy | June 25, 2009 1:21 AM | Report abuse

From Goff's WP story: "On Internet message boards, Coach Bob Bradley has been criticized by U.S. fans for both lackluster performances and personnel decisions."

Hee, hee! C'mon, 'fess up fellas! That's us he's talking about.

Posted by: troy6 | June 25, 2009 4:10 AM | Report abuse

I think the players heard their opponents speaking Spanish and assumed it was Mexico, hence the 2-0 result.

Perhaps if we can convince them on Sunday that those Portuguese-speaking fellows are really from Portugal, we can get a 3-2 victory.

e pa, Ricardo, bem vindo ao Insider e obrigado pelos comentarios. espero que ver tu filho na seleccao em cinco anos (pois, a seleccao portugues onde vivo).

Posted by: troy6 | June 25, 2009 4:17 AM | Report abuse

That red card was BS. Still, a great win.

Posted by: RichinVA | June 25, 2009 7:30 AM | Report abuse

Feel the same way, delantro.

Feilhaber and Clark have arguably the best chemistry of our central midfielders, despite the fact that Bradley is probably the most talented.

This helps to define their roles. The bucket formation won't work as well against Brazil, they are too fluid, and aren't depending on Melo like Spain does on Xavi.

As long as Clark NEVER leaves his feet, we should do better than last time.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | June 25, 2009 8:04 AM | Report abuse

1. 1950 V. England. amatuers vs pros. This will always be the biggest upset. even if we win a WC final i dont know that this game will ever be topped.

2. 1994 V. Columbia. That win put us through to the second round and may have been the final push that the MLS needed to gain traction to get started. without this win all the big US wins, and the growth of the game in the USA since may not have happened

3. 2004 V. portugal. That win was out of left field for the everyone but us MNT fans. Set a run to the 1/4 finals. P.S. the win V. Mex wont appear on this list because I don't see it as an upset, just another in a long line of 2-0 wins against El tri.

4. 2009 V. Spain. Biggest non WC upset, hands down. Especially if you concider the manner of which we got through to that game. Endding Spain's win and un-beaten streaks almost bumps it up to #3.

5. 1998 V. Brazil. Gold cup final, and an epic performance by Keller in goal. probably the first fruit gained by the MNT from the fledgeling MLS.

Posted by: jjfooty | June 25, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

To day game win should be the best, because it will open the door for usa to start the quest to dominate the soccer world. We are far from it, but this marks a big step forward

Posted by: kham1234 | June 25, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

If the question is "greatest upset" as Goff posed it, then I think 1950 should win the vote because that US team was a group of amateurs playing against what was probably the number 1 team in the world.

Regardless of that argument though, I do think Sunday's match will be the BIGGEST MATCH IN US SOCCER HISTORY. Whether we're playing against Brazil or South Africa, it's huge for the US to be participating in a Final of any international tournament.

Whether we finish first place or second place in this tournament, it's been awesome watching how far this team has progressed over the course of just a few weeks. At least now we know for sure what our best starting lineup is, and that will be a big help going back to Concacaf. We probably won't ever see Beasley or Kljestan starting again, now that we know that we Bocanegra can play left back and Demerit can be great in the center. What stood out most to me though was the play of Bradley and Clark. These guys really laid their bodies on the line to block shots, and it worked. Hoping to see this same exact starting lineup in Azteca next month.

Posted by: DCUMD | June 25, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

It is the Confederations Cup, come on. Almost any upset in the World Cup matters more.

Posted by: dcv3 | June 25, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

There's a rumor going around that Michael Bradley insulted and tried to attack the ref in the tunnel following the game.

Posted by: addick | June 25, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

@alanherman: It's part of the mythology that the 1980 Miracle On Ice was the gold medal game. It was not. We beat Sweden to win the gold. According to Mike Eruzione, Herb Brooks told his team, after the 2nd period, "If you lose this game, you'll take it to your f***ing grave. Your f***ing grave." Put that on a motivational poster.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 25, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I-270Exit1: Finland was the team we beat, but it wasn't elimination style, it was round-robin. US beat Finland and Russia, and previous round's game against Sweden (tie) put them on top of the final standings.

Posted by: ah___ | June 25, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

This would have topped them all if it was a world cup match. I figure the US-England match was probably up there, but I wasn't alive for that and it'd be nice to hang our hat on a match that occurred sometime in my lifetime. I had to go with the Portugul win only because it was a WC match that really shocked the world (well, at least part of it.)

Posted by: hacksaw | June 25, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

win on Sunday and the Spain game will be overshadowed.

Nothing matches the 1950 win over England. I'm probably biased. I was a little kid in England way back then, but the sense of utter astonishment that went around the "grown ups" at that time remains a memory.

Posted by: oz4dcu | June 26, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

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