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World Cup Weekly: They Were Younger…

The latest in an ongoing series of weekly World Cup updates coming to you every Wednesday from the U.S. Soccer Communications Center.  As a build-up to the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the forthcoming articles are being presented to educate and entertain the U.S. Soccer Family about the great worldwide history of the tournament and U.S. Soccer as the U.S. Men's National Team prepares for the 2002 event in Korea/Japan this June.

Despite the Publicity, Landon Donovan Will Not Be the Youngest U.S. MNT Player in World Cup History

Much has been written about the exploits of young U.S. forward Landon Donovan as he inches toward a spot on the final U.S. Men’s National Team 2002 World Cup roster.  [In fact, in case you missed it, you can read more about Landon Donovan in this month’s well-received edition of Center Circle with an article
that gets to the core of “Being Landon Donovan.” (Log on to /articles/viewArticle.jsp_13882.html)]

However, when the tournament kicks off, Donovan will be 20 years and 93 days old.  His partner on the pitch for years, DaMarcus Beasley, would be 20 years and 12 days old if he finds his way onto the roster.  And even at those tender ages, neither player would be amongst the three youngest players on a U.S. roster at the World Cup or even the youngest to appear in a game.

More information on the three youngest players in U.S. World Cup history follows.

Position: Defender
Caps/Goals: 3/0
Born: August 22, 1916 in Providence, R.I.
Died: July 20, 1991
Age at the World Cup: 17 years, 279 days

At 17 years, 279 days, Martinelli was the youngest player on the U.S. MNT roster when the 1934 World Cup began on May 27.  Even though Martinelli didn’t see any action during the competition, he is still recorded as the youngest U.S. player ever to make a World Cup roster.  In his career, Martinelli played for in the Pawtucket Rangers teams that reached the U.S. Open Cup final in 1934 and 1935 and with the New York Americans FC that won the Open Cup title in 1937. He eventually returned to the U.S. squad in 1937 and earned three international caps for the Americans in a three-game series against Mexico from September 12-26.  Born of Irish?Italian parents, he attended Cranston High School in Providence, R.I. where he played soccer, captained the baseball team, and played quarterback
on the football team.

Position: Forward
Caps/Goals: 79/3
Born: December 11, 1970 in Edmonds, Va.
Age at the World Cup: 19 years, 181 days

Henderson became the second youngest U.S. player to make a World Cup roster at 19 years, 181 days when the USA made their first tournament appearances in 40 years at Italia 1990.  A fixture on the U.S. Under-20 and Under-23 teams, Henderson did not see any action during the 1990 World Cup. Henderson has competed for the U.S. MNT in 79 international matches, which included appearances in the Gold Cup, the original FIFA Confederations Cup, the Copa America and several U.S. Nike Cups.  He also starred in Major League Soccer for the Colorado Rapids, Kansas City Wizards and Miami Fusion, winning a title with the Wizards in 2000.  Henderson is currently back with the Colorado Rapids in MLS.

Caps/Goals: 4/1
Born: December 31, 1910 in Kilmarnock, Scotland
Died: November 9, 1994 in Berkeley Heights, N.J.
Age at the World Cup:  19 years, 194 days

Brown is the third youngest U.S. player to make a World Cup roster, serving the U.S. at the Uruguay 1930 tournament, at the age of 19 years, 194 days when the competition began on July 13.  However, Brown is the youngest player to actually take part in a World Cup match, and he scored a goal.  Brown played in all three World Cup games and scored the team’s only goal in a semifinal defeat against Argentina.  The Americans finished third at the 1930 World Cup, their highest ever finish at a FIFA World Cup competition. Brown, who was born in Kilmarnock, Scotland, moved to the U.S. to join his father and play for Bayonne Rovers a local team in New Jersey and then for Newark in the American Soccer League.  Late in 1929 he joined another ASL team, the New York Giants, and signed his first professional contract three months before leaving for Montevideo, Uruguay as a member of the 1930 U.S. World Cup team.  In 1932 he moved to England and signed with famed club Manchester United, where he played 40 games and scored 17 goals in the Football League before being transferred to Brentford in 1935. He later played for Tottenham Hotspur, before returning to the U.S. in 1948.  Back in the U.S. he lived in Connecticut where he played (along with his son George) for Greenport United.  He also coached Brunswick High School for 22 years and the Polish Falcons of the American Soccer League in 1957 and 1958.