American folklore asserts that Pilgrim Fathers, upon settling at Plymouth Rock found American Indians along the Massachusetts coast playing a form of soccer. The Indians called it “Pasuckquakkohowog,” which means “they gather to play football.”
Many American colleges played soccer, but there was no intercollegiate competition. Rules were casual and changed often.
The Oneidas of Boston, the first organized soccer club in America, was formed by Gerritt Miller Smith. The Oneidas were undefeated from 1862-65. A monument now stands in Boston Common, where the Oneidas played their home matches.
Soccer was initiated as an organized college sport in the USA in the years following the Civil War. Princeton and Rutgers Universities engaged in the first intercollegiate soccer match Nov. 6, 1876, in New Brunswick, N.J. Rutgers won the match 6-4. The game was more similar to both rugby and soccer than gridiron football.
Thousands of British immigrants arrived in the metropolitan areas of the East, Midwest and Pacific Coast. Communities with textile mills, shipyards, quarries or mines also had soccer teams among its immigrant population, a pattern occurring all over the world during the time of the Industrial Revolution.
The American Football Association was organized in Newark, N.J., uniting the numerous metropolitan area enclaves of the East to maintain uniformity in the interpretation of rules and provide an orderly and stable growth of soccer in America.
The U..S. and Canada played a game a year against each other, representing the first “international” soccer games to take place outside the British Isles.
The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was formed in Paris on May 21. Charter members included: France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. The International Board, the authority over the rules and their interpretation continued under the jurisdiction of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, even though they were not affiliated with FIFA. The Olympic Games of 1904 in St. Louis included soccer as an official Olympic sport where club teams competed under the national team banner. FIFA did not become active in Olympic soccer until 1908.
FIFA became a member of the International Board, increasing their influence on the interpretation of rules. The U.S. Football Association (USFA) was granted provisional membership by FIFA on Aug. 15.
The USFA was incorporated under the laws of the state of New York, May 30, and was granted full membership in FIFA at the annual congress at Oslo, Norway, June 24.
The first USFA Men's National Team traveled to Norway and Sweden. The Americans played six matches on this tour, finishing 3-1-2.
Bethlehem (Pa.) Steel became the first American professional team to play in Europe when they toured Sweden.
The original American Professional Soccer League (APSL) began. Franchises were granted to Fall River, Mass.; Philadelphia; Jersey City Celtics, N.J.; Todd Shipyard of Brooklyn, N.Y.; New York FC; Falco FC of Holyoke, Mass.; and JP Coats of Pawtucket, R.I.
The world’s first indoor soccer league with 11-a-side teams on a full-sized field opened the winter season at the Commonwealth Calvary Armory in Boston.
The USA was one of 13 nations to compete in the first FIFA World Cup competition in Montevideo, Uruguay. Bert Patenaude (Fall River, Mass.) was the third-leading scorer in the tournament and was the first player to tally three goals in World Cup play.
At the 10th Olympiad in Los Angeles, soccer was eliminated due to a controversy between FIFA and the IOC over the definition of an amateur and the reluctance of most of the strong soccer countries to travel to California because of the expense involved.
West Chester State College and Salisbury College played in the first intercollegiate soccer game under floodlights.
The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) was organized by 10 coaches attending the annual meeting of the Intercollegiate Soccer Football Association of America in New York.
The USFA changed its name to the U.S. Soccer Football Association (USSFA).
Joe Gaetjens’ goal lifts the USA over England 1-0 at the World Cup in Brazil. It was called the biggest upset ever in international soccer. The first college bowl game was played in St. Louis Jan. 1. Penn State University tied the University of San Francisco 2-2. The National Soccer Hall of Fame was organized by the Philadelphia Old-timers Association. There were 15 inaugural inductees.
In an agreement with the Old-timers Soccer Association, the USSFA assumed administration of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
The American Soccer League (ASL) was granted permission from the USSFA to create an International Soccer League (ISL), made up of top-class European, South American and U.S. professional league teams that would operate in the cities throughout the United States.
The first NCAA championship tournament was held in Storrs, Conn. St. Louis defeated Bridgeport University 5-2. The first National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics college championship was held in Slippery Rock, Pa.. Pratt Institute was victorious over Elizabethtown College 4-3.
The International Soccer League began play under the sponsorship of William Cox and the ASL. For more than a decade foreign teams visited the USA to play American teams. The new league, composed of first class European, British and South American teams, was an attempt to test the support of American soccer fans for a top-flight league.
The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), the governing body of soccer in this part of the world, was recognized by FIFA.
Two new major professional leagues made their debut in the USA, the USSFA-sanctioned United Soccer Association (USA) and the independent National Professional Soccer League (NPSL). By the end of the year, the leagues merged at the request of FIFA and the North American Soccer League (NASL) was established.
Pele retired from international competition after Brazil tied Yugoslavia 2-2 before 150,000 at Rio de Janiero’s Maracana Stadium.
Kyle Rote, Jr., became the first rookie and first American to win the NASL scoring title with 10 goals and 10 assists for 30 points.
The USSFA changed its name to the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). Kyle Rote, Jr. won the first of his three victories in ABC-TV Superstars competitions against elite athletes from other major sports. The NASL reached a membership of 18 teams.
In April, the New York Cosmos signed Pele for $4.5 million.
The NASL signed a seven-game contract for national television. On October 1, Pele participated for both sides in his farewell game at Giants Stadium between the Cosmos and Santos, his old team from Brazil, in front of a crowd of 77,202.
The Chicago Sting played the Cuban National Team in an exhibition in Havana, the first time since 1959 an American professional sports team had visited Castro’s island. The New York Cosmos became the first NASL team to break one million in home and away attendance.
In September, the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) debuted with six franchises: Cincinnati Kids, Cleveland Force, Houston Summit, New York Arrows, Philadelphia Fever and Pittsburgh Spirit.
The U.S. Under-20 National Team competed in its first World Youth Championship in Australia. The U.S. team lost to Uruguay 3-0, tied Qatar 1-1, and lost to Poland 4-0.
The United States made a formal bid to host the 1986 World Cup. The MISL season opened with 14 teams, including three teams participating for a season from the NASL (San Jose, Chicago and San Diego).
FIFA awarded the 1986 World Cup to Mexico, rejecting the U.S. bid.
The United Soccer League (USL) was formed. The ASL canceled what would have been its 50th season. Four NASL teams permanently joined the MISL (New York, Chicago, San Diego and Minnesota). The American Indoor Soccer Association (AISA) was formed.
The NASL and USL ceased operations.
The Western Soccer Alliance (WSA) kicked off with seven teams. At the UNICEF All-Star game in Pasadena, Calif., FIFA officials suggested the USA should bid for the ‘94 World Cup.
The ASL began play with 10 teams. On July 4, the United States was awarded the 1994 World Cup during the FIFA Congress in Zurich.
Paul Caligiuri scored the biggest goal in U.S. Soccer history since Gaetjens’ 1950 World Cup goal against England. Referred to as the “shot heard around the world,” Caligiuri’s 35-yard dipping shot found the net in a 1-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago Nov. 19 in front of 35,000 red-clad Trinidadians, clinching the USA’s first appearance in the World Cup since 1950.
The U.S. Indoor Five-A-Side (Futsal) Team won the bronze medal at the inaugural FIFA World Championship in the Netherlands.
The U.S. competed in the World Cup for the first time in 40 years. The WSL and the ASL merged to form the American Professional Soccer League (APSL).
The U.S. Women’s National Team captured the first-ever FIFA Women’s World Championship in China with a 2-1 win over Norway Nov. 30. The women qualified for the world championship by defeating its five CONCACAF opponents by a combined score of 49-0. The U.S. National Team won its first-ever regional championship July 7 when it captured the CONCACAF Gold Cup by defeating Honduras 4-3 in penalty kicks. The U.S. U-23 team won the gold medal at the Pan Am Games in Cuba.
The U.S. National Team won the inaugural U.S. Cup ‘92 in June, defeating Ireland 3-1 and Portugal 1-0, and tying three-time World Cup champion Italy 1-1. The U.S. Indoor (Five-a-Side) Team won the silver medal at the 2nd FIFA Indoor Five-a-Side World Championship in Hong Kong. The M(I)SL folded after 15 years in existence.
In February, U.S. Soccer held the first-ever Strategic Summit where more than 250 soccer leaders and personalities met in Chicago for four days to plan the development of soccer into the 21st Century. U.S. Cup ‘93 was used as a dress rehearsal for World Cup organizers, officials and volunteers, as well as the U.S. National Team. The USA’s 2-0 defeat of England made headlines around the world. Attendance and media interest were high, with 286,761 people attending the tournament’s six games, and ABC-TV broadcasting the June 13 U.S.-Germany match.
The U.S. Under-20 National Team defeated Europe’s number one seed, Turkey, 6-0 in the first game of the World Youth Championship in Australia. FIFA officials called the trouncing one of the most extraordinary results in the history of the tournament. The U-20s finished eighth in the world.
The NPSL was granted status in the professional indoor division by U.S. Soccer. The APSL was declared a Division II professional league. The United States Interregional Soccer League (USISL) was given Division III status. Plans for Major League Soccer — a Division I league to follow the legacy of World Cup ‘94 — were presented by U.S. Soccer President Alan Rothenberg.
U.S. Soccer served as host national association for the 1994 FIFA World Cup and, in conjunction with World Cup USA 1994, Inc., staged the greatest event in FIFA history. More than 3.5 million fans flocked to U.S. stadia — breaking by more than one million the attendance record established in Italy in 1990 — and soccer fever in the U.S. was at an all-time high. The U.S. team advanced beyond the first round for the first time in 64 years, falling to eventual champion Brazil 1-0 in a July 4 round of 16 showdown at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif. On June 4,91,123 fans jammed the Rose Bowl to watch the U.S. defeat Mexico, 1-0, in its final tune-up prior to the World Cup. Game proceeds netted $1 million in a U.S. Soccer contribution to UNICEF/Children’s Defense Fund.
The Women’s National Team won the Chiquita Cup, a four-team international tournament in which the U.S. hosted Germany, China and Norway. The U.S. went on to successfully defend its CONCACAF championship, qualifying for the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Championship by outscoring the opposition 36-1 en route to winning all four qualification matches. Head coach Anson Dorrance announced his resignation and U.S. Soccer named assistant coach Tony DiCicco to succeed him.
U.S. Soccer announced in February its intention to host the 1999 Women’s World Cup and began the formal bid process with FIFA. The men’s national team won U.S. Cup ‘95 in June, defeating Nigeria and Mexico and tying Colombia. The 4-0 victory over Mexico during U.S. Cup ‘95 was the most lopsided U.S. victory in the rivalry’s 61-year history. Later that month, the women’s team placed third in the Women’s World Cup in Sweden, falling to eventual champion Norway in the semifinals 1-0, then defeating China.
In July, the men’s team made international headlines by advancing to the semifinals of Copa America, one of the world’s most prestigious tournaments. The U.S. scored its first-ever victory over Argentina, 3-0, and advanced via penalty kicks (over Mexico) into the semifinals before falling 1-0 to defending world champion Brazil. Steve Sampson, who had served as interim national team coach since April, was named full-time head coach in August.
The women’s national team won the first-ever women’s soccer gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, defeating China 2-1 in the championship game. The U.S. posted a 21-1-2 overall record and won the Brazil Cup and U.S. Women’s Cup ‘96.
The U.S. men’s Olympic team narrowly missed advancing to the quarterfinals with a 1-1-1 record. Major League Soccer was launched, providing the United States with its first Division I outdoor pro league since the North American Soccer League ceased operations in 1984. MLS averaged more than 17,000 fans per game. The A-League and USISL merged to form a larger and stronger Division II outdoor league.
FIFA awarded the 1999 Women’s World Cup to the United States and U.S. Soccer pledged it would be the biggest and most successful women’s sporting event ever.
The men’s national team finished off their successful World Cup qualification process with an historic 0-0 draw in Mexico, a 3-0 win in Canada and a 4-2 home victory over El Savlador. Those performances enabled the team to clinch a spot in the 1998 World Cup with a game to spare. The team finished their grueling 16-game qualifying run with just two losses and their 4-1-5 final round record was second by one point in CONCACAF.
The women’s team continued their impressive play by winning their fourth straight U.S Women’s Cup and going undefeated in the six-game Nike Victory Tour, celebrating their Olympic Gold Medal a year earlier.
Women’s World Cup Organizing Committee had awarded the ‘99 games to seven U.S. locations: Boston; Chicago; Los Angeles; New York/New Jersey; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco Bay Area; and Washington, D.C.
A disappointing World Cup finished with the U.S. in last place after two difficult match-ups against Germany and Yugoslavia, and a heart-breaking loss to Iran. Brian McBride scores the team’s only World Cup goal. The tournament concludes with the resignation of head coach Steve Sampson, who is eventually replaced on Oct. 27 by Bruce Arena, who seemingly won every major championship he encountered with D.C. United and the University of Virginia.
The women’s team continued their impressive play, losing just twice in 1998 while playing in front of records crowds all across the country.
In front of over 90,000 fans at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., the U.S. women won the 1999 FIFA World Cup by defending China to a 0-0 tie through regulation and overtime and then defeating the Chinese women 5-4 in penalty kicks. Their road to victory incites soccer hysteria in America as the women appear on every top news program, at the White House and on the cover of Time, Newsweek, People and Sports Illustrated. U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Tony DiCicco resigned inNovember as the winningest coach in U.S. Soccer history with a record of 103-8-8.
In Bruce Arena’s first full year at the helm of the U.S. Men’s National Team, the squad achieved a 7-4-2 mark in 13 international matches, which includes two wins over Germany and victories over Argentina and Chile. His team earned the bronze medal at the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup in Mexico.
The U-23 Men’s National Team beat Canada to earn the bronze medal at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada, while the U-18 Women took the gold. The Under-21 Women also earned the 1999 Nordic Cup title.
The U-20s advanced to the second round of the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship in April, with their only two loses coming to eventual finalists Spain and Japan. Taylor Twellman scored four goals to earn himself the Bronze Boot, the first American male to ever earn a FIFA scoring award. In November, the U-17s extended their record unbeaten streak to 24 games, advancing to the semifinals of the World Championships before losing in penalty kicks to Australia. In addition to an all-time best fourth-place finish, forward Landon Donovan and midfielder DaMarcus Beasley earned the Gold and Silver Balls as the tournaments top two MVPs.
Bruce Arena’s squad continued to advance toward their ultimate goal of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup. The team secured 10 out of a possible 12 points in its last four qualifying matches — all shutouts — to win their semifinal qualifying group and advance into the final qualifying phase. The defense is the story of qualification, as the Americans allowed only three goals in six matches, while the offense exploded for 14 goals. The men also scored an impressive win in Chile, shutout Mexico in two wins and kept the Nike U.S. Cup title in the United States.
The United States women maintained the momentum from their historic Women’s World Cup title with a record 41 matches in 2000, posting a 26-6-9 record. The U.S. won a whopping six tournament titles in 2000, including — for the first time in six tries — the prestigious Algarve Cup in Portugal. The women claimed a silver medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics, losing in overtime to arch-rival Norway in the Gold Medal Match.
The American men and women put on an impressive display for the world at the Sydney Games, as the U.S. is the only nation to have both its teams advance to the semifinals. The American men are the surprise team of the tournament, winning their group and advancing to the semis before grabbing fourth place, the men’s highest Olympic finish.
The American youth teams used the year to prepare for qualification into the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championships. The Under-17s again spend most of the year in residency with head coach John Ellinger in Florida and post a 35-14-7 record. The team outscored their opponents 167-65 and had three players net more than 20 goals on the year. The Under-20s, coached by Wolfgang Sunholz, are impressive in their warm ups for qualification, despite missing many of their regular players, compiling a 16-8-10 record.
The Under-21 Women win their third Nordic Cup title in the last four years, showing the world the legacy of the U.S. Women’s National Team is in good hands.
The U.S. Men qualified for a fourth straight World Cup appearance, boosted by four wins and a draw to open the final round of CONCACAF qualifying. For the first time in U.S. Soccer history, the Men’s National Team clinched a spot in the World Cup at a home qualifier, topping Jamaica 2-1 behind two goals from Joe-Max Moore in front of 40,483 fans at the last soccer match played at Foxboro Stadium.
The U.S. Women play only 10 international matches in 2001 as the new Women’s United Soccer Association begins play, with the Bay Area CyberRays winning the inaugural Founders Cup. Mia Hamm was named the first-ever FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, beating out teammate Tiffeny Milbrett and Chinese superstar Sun Wen for the historic award.
The U.S. Under-21 Women won their third straight Nordic Cup title with a 6-1 rout of Sweden in the final. The U.S. Under-19 Women’s National Team prepared for the 2002 U-19 Women’s World Championship by going undefeated in five international matches, outscoring opponents 23-1.
The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team advanced to their ninth consecutive FIFA U-17 World Championship, but were into the Group of Death in Trinidad & Tobago with Japan, Nigeria and France, and were eliminated in the first round. The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team qualified for their third straight FIFA World Youth Championship, where the team finished second in their group in Argentina and were eliminated in the second round by Egypt.
The National Professional Soccer League, in existence since 1984-95, merges with the WISL and is renamed as the Major Indoor Soccer League.
The U.S. Men’s National Team advanced to the quarterfinals at the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan, the team’s best World Cup showing since 1930. The U.S. shocks the world with a stunning, 3-2 opening game upset of Portugal, and then earns a difficult draw with the host Koreans to earn enough points for second place in Group D. The U.S. then posts their first-ever victory in the World Cup knockout stage, blanking CONCACAF rival Mexico 2-0 in the Round of 16 with goals by Brian McBride and Landon Donovan. The World Cup run ended in the quarterfinals with a heartbreaking 1-0 decision to Germany. Midfielder Claudio Reyna was named to the All-Tournament Team, while Landon Donovan earned World Cup Honorable Mentions. Prior to the World Cup, the USA began 2002 by winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup in January with a convincing 2-0 victory over Costa Rica at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. It was the first Gold Cup title for the U.S. since 1991.
The U.S. Women’s National Team qualified for their fourth consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup, set for China 2003, after capturing the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup with a 2-1 overtime victory over Canada at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
In one of the stories of the year, the U.S. Under-19 Women’s National Team topped the host Canadians 1-0 in overtime to win the inaugural FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship. The USA was a perfect 6-0 in the tournament, allowing just two goals. Forward Kelly Wilson won the Bronze Ball as the tournament’s third MVP and the Silver Boot as the tournament’s second leading scorer, while forward Lindsay Tarpley earned the Bronze Boot. Additionally, the U.S. Under-21 Women’s National Team won the Nordic Cup in Finland, marking the team’s fifth Nordic Cup title in six years. A new national team, the Under-17 Women’s National Team, was established in October. For the men, the U.S. Under-20 National Team qualified for their fourth consecutive FIFA World Youth Championship, scheduled for the United Arab Emirates in 2003.
The U.S. National Futsal Team played their first-ever home matches, defeating Canada and tying Mexico in March in Baltimore, Md., and Washington, D.C., respectively.
Due to the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, FIFA relocated the Women’s World Cup out of China. After a successful bid to host the tournament, U.S. Soccer faced the unprecedented task of hosting the tournament with just four months of preparation. The U.S. Women’s National Team easily won Group A and then beat Norway in the quarterfinals 1-0. But Germany stunned the U.S. with a 3-0 victory in the semifinals, which led the U.S. to top Canada in the third-place match. Shannon Boxx, Joy Fawcett and Mia Hamm all earned all-star honors from FIFA.
The Men’s National Team, preparing for World Cup qualifying in 2004, finished in third place at the CONCACAF Gold Cup with a 3-2 come-from-behind win over Costa Rica.
On the youth side, the U.S. Under-21 WNT won their sixth Nordic Cup title in seven years, and the Men’s Under-17 and Under-20 squads finished their respective World Championships with fifth place finishes after bowing out with quarterfinal losses to Brazil and Argentina, respectively.
The U.S. Women’s National Team won every tournament entered, culminating with the 2004 Olympics. Other tournament titles included the Algarve Cup, the Four Nations Tournament and the CONCACAF Regional Olympic qualifying tournament, as the team set a record with 28 victories on the year (against just four ties and two losses). At the youth level, the Under-21 Women won their seventh Nordic Cup in eight years and the Under-19 Women finished third at the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship.
Under head coach Bruce Arena, the U.S. Men’s National Team qualified for the final round of World Cup Qualifying for the CONCACAF region. The U.S. Men also finished the year with an 8-1-6 record, losing only to Holland in Amsterdam and going a record 13-games undefeated. The U-23 Men failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 1976, losing 4-0 to Mexico in Guadalajara after winning their group only match up against the second-place Mexicans in the single-elimination qualifier.
The U.S. National Futsal Team won the 2004 CONCACAF Championship and qualified for the 2004 FIFA Futsal World Championship, where the team had a strong showing with a seventh-place finish.
Manager Bruce Arena led the U.S. Men’s National Team to a first place finish in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying for the first time in 71 years, earning a berth at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Finals in Germany with a 2-0 win against Mexico in Columbus, Ohio. The U.S. Men also brought home the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup, beating Panama 3-1 in penalty kicks after a scoreless draw. The team finished the year with a record 13 wins and best-ever .750 winning percentage.
The U.S. Women began a new era, starting off the year with a new coach and a third consecutive Algarve Cup title, their fourth overall. They ended the year undefeated and without allowing a single goal.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team swept through CONCACAF Qualifying undefeated, earning a berth to the FIFA Youth World Championship, where they finished 11th, bowing out to Italy in the Round of 16. The Under-17 Men also had a strong 2005, qualifying for the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship and finishing fifth overall after a loss to Holland in the second round.
June of 2006 brought a disappointing World Cup in Germany for the United States, as the team failed to advance out of the first round despite a gallant, nine-man 1-1 draw with eventual World Cup champions Italy. Later in the summer, the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team finished fourth in Russia. The disappointing finish marks the first time a U.S. Women’s National Team has finished outside the top three in a FIFA or CONCACAF World Championship event.
The U.S. Women’s National Team, however, continued their incredible run under Greg Ryan, winning three of the four tournaments they entered (the only setback coming in penalty kicks to Germany in the final of the Algarve Cup). The year concluded with another Women’s Gold Cup crown and a berth in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China.
After eight years in charge, Bruce Arena is replaced at the helm of the U.S. MNT by Bob Bradley, on an interim basis.
Bob Bradley became the first head coach in U.S. Soccer history to win his first three games in charge and was hired full-time to guide the USA through 2010. In the summer of 2007, the MNT won its second consecutive Gold Cup, and fourth total title, by defeating Mexico 2-1 in front of a packed house at Soldier Field in Chicago. With the victory, the MNT gained entry into the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa, a tournament they last took part in during 2003. Soon after, the MNT travelled to Venezuela to compete in Copa America for just the second time.
After qualifying for their respective World Cups to continue impressive streaks, the U-17 MNT and U-20 MNT took on the world during the summer in back-to-back tournaments. The U-20 team performed admirably in Canada, and reached the quarterfinals after defeats of Poland, Brazil and Uruguay. The U-17 team, meanwhile, did well to qualify from a tough group in South Korea, before being eliminated by Germany in the Round of 16.
The U.S. WNT maintained their two-plus year undefeated run, looking to take their streak into the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Drawn into the toughest group in Women's World Cup history, the U.S. WNT qualified in first place after three difficult games against Korea DPR, Sweden and Nigeria. The U.S. rolled into the semifinals, but was upended by a quality Brazil side. Eventually, the WNT took third place for the second consecutive World Cup with a convincing win over Norway.
Wilmer Cabrerra was named head coach of the U-17 MNT, replacing John Hackworth. Former Swedish National Team player and captain Pia Sundhage was appointed to the position of WNT coach after Greg Ryan's departure from the team.
For the first time, U.S. Soccer hired four full-time referees to enhance high-level performance, training and development opportunities for the sport’s elite officials in the United States.
Led by Pia Sundhage, the U.S. Women’s National Team had one of its best years ever, losing only one game, which ironically came in the opening match of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a tournament the U.S. would eventually win to take home their third gold medal. Overall, the U.S. WNT won all six tournaments it entered to finish with a 33-1-2 record, giving them the most wins and best winning percentage ever in a calendar year (.944).
The Men’s National Team was successful in its own right, starting off on the right foot in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying with a 9-0 aggregate against Barbados in the second round. The U.S. opened the semifinal round with 1-0 victories in Guatemala, their first ever on Guatemalan soil, and during a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Havana, Cuba. Coming back to the U.S., Bob Bradley’s squad earned home victories against T&T and Cuba to clinch their advancement with two games to play.
The MNT also played a handful of major friendlies on European soil, traveling to Poland, England and Spain, before coming back to Giants Stadium to face Argentina, the No. 1 team in the world at the time, and earning a 0-0 draw.
The U-23 MNT joined the WNT by qualifying for the 2008 Olympics in March, but just missed out on the second round once arriving in Beijing. Despite a 1-0 victory against Japan in their opening match, the U.S. gave up a late equalizer against the Netherlands in a game they otherwise dominated to draw 2-2, and then fell 2-1 against eventual silver medalist Nigeria.
On the youth side, the U-17 and U-20 Women’s National Teams both made the championship match of their respective FIFA World Cups. In New Zealand, the U-17s went on an impressive run to the final before finally succumbing to Korea DPR in the final, but in Chile their older counterparts were able to exact revenge with a 2-1 victory to bring the World Cup trophy back to the United States for the first time since 2002.
Building off the initial kickoff in 2007, U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy wrapped up its first year with a collection of dynamic matches during Finals Week at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. In the U-15/16 championship, Carmel United pulled off an astounding run with a 1-0 victory against PDA, while the Baltimore Casa Mia Bays came from behind against LAFC to force overtime and eventually win 4-2 to take the U-17/18 title.
Slated to have one of its busiest years ever, the U.S. Men’s National Team started 2009 focused on CONCACAF Final Round qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Opening with a 2-0 win over archrival Mexico in Columbus, Ohio, Bob Bradley’s squad proceeded to go undefeated at home and clinch a spot in South Africa with a come-from-behind win in Honduras—the only CONCACAF team to win in San Pedro Sula throughout qualifying. They finished atop the CONCACAF table with a tie against Costa Rica in Washington, D.C. on the last day of qualifying in October.
During the summer, the U.S. MNT traveled to South Africa to compete in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. The MNT was drawn into a group with Italy, Brazil and Egypt, and advanced into the semifinals by virtue of a 3-0 dismantling of Egypt in the final game. They kept the nation captivated by beating Spain, the No.1-ranked team in the world in the semifinals before falling 3-2 to Brazil in the final. The championship match was the furthest the U.S. has ever gone in a FIFA men’s tournament, while Tim Howard was awarded the Golden Gloves as tournament’s best goalkeeper and Clint Dempsey given the Bronze Ball as the tournament’s third-best player.
Not two days after landing back stateside, head coach Bob Bradley started training a younger group of national team players to compete in the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup. With an almost entirely different roster, the U.S. finished that tournament as runner up after reaching its second championship match in two months.
The MNT wrapped up 2009 with a pair of friendlies against Slovakia and Denmark, before finding out their group for the 2010 World Cup. Drawn into Group C, the U.S. will face England, Slovenia and Algeria in South Africa next summer.
Pia Sunhage’s team had a more relaxed year after their gold medal winning exploits in 2008, starting with the 2009 Algarve Cup in Portugal. After rattling off three straight shutout wins against Denmark, Iceland and Norway, the U.S. WNT drew Sweden 1-1 but fell in heartbreaking fashion in penalties.
They played three friendlies against Canada, winning all three by a 6-0 combined score. Abby Wambach cemented her status in Women’s National Team lore by scoring her 100th international goal in a 1-0 victory against Canada in her hometown of Rochester, N.Y., on July 19. In the final match of the year, Sundhage led her charges overseas against perennial women’s power Germany, defeating the host nation 1-0 on October 29.
Both the U-17 and U-20 Men’s National Team competed in their respective FIFA World Cups this year, with the U-17 team advancing out of the group stage in Nigeria before falling to Italy in the Round of 16. A tough group containing Germany, Cameroon and Korea Republic saw the U-20s out of the tournament following the first round in Egypt.
Like the WNT, the youth women’s sides had a slower year after world cups in 2008. The U-20s played three international friendlies in March against Norway, France and Germany where they won, drew and lost respectively. The U-17s played three successive matches against Germany in February, before wrapping up the year in December with a trip to Argentina where they dispatched the U-17 sides of Argentina and Chile, a joint U-17/U-20 side from Uruguay and even Argentina’s U-20 squad, scoring 16 goals while giving up only one in the entire trip.
The U.S. Soccer Development Academy completed its second year of competition in 2009, once again concluding the season with Finals Week at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. In the U-15/16 age group, playoff No.1-seed Derby County Wolves continued their strong season straight through Finals Week, eventually defeating a Cal Odyssey squad that was the only team representing California 1-0. For his club’s strong season, Wolves’ head coach Lars Richters was named U-15/16 Coach of the Year for the Academy.
Indiana United Academy, formerly Carmel United, established precedent by becoming the first two-time champion of the Academy; after winning the U-15/16 title in 2008 the club returned most of their squad and defeated D.C. United in the championship game to take home the U-17/18 championship.
The year’s most memorable moment came in the U.S. Men’s third group game at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as Landon Donovan scored a last-minute goal for the U.S. to clinch advancement and clinch a group for the first time in 80 years. Following a 1-1 tie with England, a 2-2 tie with Slovenia and a 1-0 win against Algeria, the U.S. was eliminated in the Round of 16 losing to Ghana 2-1. Clint Dempsey became the second U.S. player to score in multiple World Cups, and Landon Donovan had three total goals to be come the third to score in multiple World Cups and the all-time World Cup goal leader for the U.S.
After a surprising loss to Mexico in the semifinals of Women’s CONCACAF qualifying, the U.S. topped Italy 2-0 in a two-game qualifying playoff to earn a spot in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The U.S. won its seventh Algarve Cup with the first of two victories against 2011 hosts Germany.
The U.S. Under-20 Women lost in penalty kicks to Nigeria in the quarterfinals of the 2010 FIFA U-20 World Cup, while the U-17 Women became the first U.S. Women’s team to fail to qualify for a FIFA World Cup event after not advancing out of the CONACACAF qualifying tournament.
No Division II league met U.S. Soccer’s sanctioning standards; the Federation administered a league called USSF D-2 for one year.
The U.S. Women were on center stage during the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany. Their dramatic run in the Women’s World Cup was highlighted by an electric, come-from-behind victory in the quarterfinals against Brazil, in which Abby Wambach scored the latest goal (six minutes into stoppage time) ever in a World Cup match. The U.S., however, would lose out in penalties to a spirited Japanese side in the final after playing to a 2-2 draw through 120 minutes.
During the summer of 2011 at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the U.S. advanced to its third consecutive final, scoring two early goals before falling 4-2 to Mexico. The continental tournament would prove to be Bob Bradley’s last involvement as head coach of the U.S., with former Germany international and FIFA World Cup winner Jurgen Klinsmann taking the helm of the U.S. Men in August. He earned his first win in Miami against Honduras thanks to a Clint Dempsey strike and later led the team to a 3-2 victory against Slovenia in its last game of the year.
The U-17 and U-20 Men’s National Teams both entered another cycle of their respective FIFA World Cups. The U-17 Men reached the knockout round for the seventh time but lost to Germany in the Round of 16. After winning their qualifying group with two shutout victories, the U-20s graduated to the quarterfinals but fell to Guatemala and did not reach the World Cup for the first time since 1995.