Men’s U.S. Soccer: A Timeline  

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From Plymouth Rock to World Cup 2022 in Qatar

Throughout their game-changing history, the U.S. Men’s soccer team has always scored big on heart, hustle, and handsome hairstyles.  

1620 

According to folklore, the first soccer ever played in the U.S. was the pilgrims of Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. The Native Americans called it “Pasuckquakkohowog,” which means “they gather to play football.” 

Oneidas Monument in Boston Common, Mass., Flickr

Fun fact: The U.S. soccer team has 2 nicknames – Stars and Stripes and The Yanks 

1862  

Formed by Garrett Miller Smith, the Oneidas of Boston was the first organized soccer club in the U.S.  

1876 

In the first organized intercollegiate soccer match, Princeton University beat Rutgers 6-4 on November 6th. 

1884  

The American Football Association was formed in Newark, N.J. to establish rules and uniformity for U.S. soccer leagues forming in the metropolitan areas of the East. 

1885  

In Newark, N.J., Canada defeated the U.S. 1-0 in the first international soccer game outside of the British Isles.  

1916 

In their first official soccer match at the Stockholm Olympic Stadium in Sweden, the U.S. gave Sweden a good kick in the grass with a 3-2 victory.  

U.S. Soccer team, Stockholm Olympic Stadium, 1916, Wikimedia Commons

1921  

The American professional soccer league was established, with franchises granted in Massachusetts, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. 

1930  

The U.S. qualified for the first FIFA World Cup in Uruguay. Bert Patenaude from Massachusetts was the third-leading scorer in the tournament, making him the first player to score three goals at the World Cup.  

U.S. Soccer team 1930 World Cup, Wikimedia Commons

1945 

The U.S. Football Association changed its name to the U.S. Soccer Football Association (USSFA).  

1950  

WORLD CUP OFFICIAL POSTER 1950, Wikimedia Commons

Considered the biggest upset in the history of international soccer, the U.S. beat England 1-0 at the World Cup in Brazil. They were eliminated by a loss to Chile in the third game.  

1960s-1980s  

With American football, basketball, and baseball taking prominence as America’s favorite sports, professional soccer faded into obscurity.  

1988 

After a two-decades-long hiatus, U.S. soccer entered the spotlight again when it won a bid to host the 1994 World Cup.  

U.S. vs Trinidad & Tobago, Wikimedia Commons

1989 

Considered one of the biggest goals in U.S. soccer history, Paul Caligiuri scored a 35-yard dipping shot which was referred to as the “shot heard round the world,” helping clinch a 1-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago.  

1990 

For the first time in 40 years, the U.S. qualified for the World Cup. 

1994  

When the U.S. hosted the FIFA World Cup at the Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California, soccer fever was at an all-time high, with a record-setting 3.5 million fans in attendance. 

1994 FIFA World Cup, Palo Alto, CA., Wikimedia Commons

1995 

The U.S. made international headlines by advancing to the seminal finals of the prestigious Copa America tournament. They won the first two games before being eliminated after a loss to Brazil.  

Copa America Poster 1995, Wikimedia Commons

1998 

After a disappointing performance at the World Cup, head coach Steve Sampson resigned. 

2001  

For the first time, the U.S. clinched a spot in the World Cup with a home qualifier.  

Do you know what law eighteen is? Law eighteen is common sense. That’s the law we definitely violate in every game.

Bruce Arena, U.S. soccer coach

2002  

The U.S. won their first-ever match in the World Cup knockout stage. 

2003 

The U.S. finished in third place at the CONCACAF Gold Cup. 

Head Coach Bruce Arena, Wikipedia

2004 

The U.S. team qualified for the final round of World Cup qualifying games under head coach Bruce Arena. 

2005 

For the first time in 71 years, coach Bruce Arena led the U.S. team to a first place finish in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying round.  

2010 

At the 2010 World Cup, the U.S. advanced to the third group game for the first time in 80 years. 

U.S. Soccer at the White House, Wikimedia Commons

2013 

U.S. soccer celebrated its 100th year anniversary with a 4-3 victory over Germany in Washington, DC. 

U.S. Soccer team 2013, Wikimedia Commons

2022 

In November, the U.S. will play England, Iran, and a third TBD team at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.  

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