The most unlikely team ever to represent their nation gathered in Brazil for the first Soccer World Cup since World War II. Of the eleven men to take the field, five were Italian, two were Portuguese, one Haitian, one German, one Scot and one an Irishman. They all wore blue shorts and white shirts crossed with a thick band of red. On their chests they wore the eagle of the United States of America.
Gathered from the meat packing plants and funeral homes of Dago Hill, St. Louis, and the restaurant kitchens of New York City, they hadn't the silky skills of their Mexican opponents nor the fierce discipline of the mighty English team. But these were proud men, loyal to each other and their communities, and fiercely proud of the country they now called their own.
With a less than impressive record they arrived in Brazil, 500-1 outsiders, without hope or expectation. What happened next didn't change the world, or stop the Korean War that started the next day. It didn't even affect the ultimate outcome of the competition. It was just one moment, but for the men on the field it was a moment that would define who they were as Americans, as athletes, and as friends. As athletes the Americans were brilliant but unknown, used to playing for pittances in front of small crowds in rickety stands in rented playground fields.
The loudest cheers they ever heard were from thirty thousand Brazilians who would never know their names. They were the last of the great amateur sportsmen, pitched against the first of the new professionals - England, the inventors of the game, the greatest soccer team the world had ever known. This is their story.