1925 - Frank Borghi was born April 9, in St. Louis, Missouri. Played as a goalkeeper for the US National Teams. 1948 - 1950 - He won U.S. Open Cup medals. 1955 - He was appointed as the Most Valuable Player by the Missouri Soccer Commission 1976 - He was included in the National Soccer Hall of Fame. After retiring from sports, he became the director of a funeral home in St. Louis Other St. Louisans include Frank Borghi, second row center (different shirt), Charlie Columbo (left of Frank Borghi), Harry Keough (right of Frank Borghi), and Gino Pariani (almost directly in front of Frank Borghi). The man to the right of Gino Pariani is Joe Gaetjens who scored the winning goal.
a sweltering late afternoon in Brazil nearly sixty years ago, a rag tag squad of Americans stunned the international soccer world by defeating the heavily favored team from England 1-0 in the opening rounds of the 1950 FIFA World Cup. The win was so shocking that English newspapers assumed the score was a typing error and edited their publications to reflect an English victory of 10-1. Helping to secure the win was a group of five young players from the Italian section of St. Louis, known as The Hill. As with the other members of the U.S. team, the St Louis quintet of Frank Borghi, Gino Pariani, Charley Colombo, Harry Keough and Frank Wallace had little
ated by his teammates than the fans," World Cup teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Walter Bahr said. "Always reliable, always gave a good game - you could depend upon him to do his job well." Both Borghi and Pariani would eventually earn induction into the United States National Soccer Hall Of Fame. Surprisingly, the team qualified for the 1950 World Cup, and found themselves facing Spain, Chile, and England in group play. Borghi feared the English most of all, calling them the “fathers of soccer.” His primary concern was not a win, but to “keep [the score] down to four or five goals.” The English squad was formidable and widely considered the world's best, with a post-war record of 23 wins with only 4 losses and 3 draws. The same odds makers that refused bets on the long shot Americans rated the English as 3-1 favorites to win the Cup. Group play began with the English edging Chile 2-0 in Rio de Janeiro as Spain 3-1 bested the Americans after an early lead provided by Gino Pariani's goal. The squads would face each other a few days later on June 29 at Magalhaes Pinto (Minerisao) Stadium in Belo Horizante, Brazil. A crowd of just over 10,000 arrived, unaware that they were about to witness World Cup history. Generoso Dattilo, an Italian assigned to referee the match, welcomed the team captains and tossed the coin. England kicked off and quickly attacked with Stanley Mortensen, regarded as the best player of his era, sending a cross to Roy Bentley. His crisp shot was barely pushed aside by Borghi. Encouraged by their play, the second half opened with another scoring opportunity for the American team, but failed to capitalize. As the final whistle blew, the Americans celebrated while the dejected English team stood about, jaws agape, wondering what had just occurred. Years later, Borghi would recall the cordiality of the English team (L-R) Gino Pariani, Ed Sousa, Harry Keough, Walter Bahr members of the original 1950 American World Cup Soccer Team in a upon seeing the scene from “THE GAME OF THEIR LIVES”. Americans at the An IFC Films release. Rio de Janeiro airport after the match. The athletic after-effects wouldn't last for the Americans, however, as they lost their last group play game to Chile. Perhaps still stunned by their epic failure, the English squad also lost their final game, and both teams failed to qualify for the elimination round. The World Cup was ultimately won by Uruguay on July 16, 1950. Frank Borghi would continue as the National Team's goalkeeper through the 1954 World Cup qualification rounds. He retains greater pride in his accomplishments with the Simkins-Ford semi-pro team that won the U.S. Open Cup in 1948 and 1950, and his election into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. Many others disagree, however, and consider Frank's greatest moment was his shut-out against England in Belo Horizonte. It remains arguably the greatest highlight of American soccer to this day.
or no professional experience. They were not novices, however, with many playing for St. Louis's Simpkins-Ford amateur club which won the U.S. Open Cup in 1948 and 1950. Their World Cup training was limited to only 10 days prior to traveling to Brazil, with their uniforms arriving just before departure. So unimpressed were the odds makers that most would not even accept wagers on the 500 to 1 American team. One of the more interesting players on the squad was the goalkeeper, Frank Borghi. Born in St. Louis to Italian parents in 1925, he served as a field medic during World War II. Initially drawn to baseball, Borghi was talented enough to spend two seasons in the minor leagues. Wishing to keep fit in the winter, he decided to try soccer, then a winter sport, and tried out for the powerful Simpkins-Ford team. Borghi, however, simply could not kick a ball. Utilizing his large hands and hand-eye coordination, he moved to goalkeeper and quickly excelled at the position, enough to merit a call-up to the national team in 1949. The Italian influence on the U.S. team was not limited to Frank Borghi. His teammate and Dagget Street neighbor, Virginio (Gino) Pariani, also was born to Italian immigrants. Pariani was so talented that by the age of 15, he was playing in the country's top amateur division, eventually earning league MVP honors. "Gino was probably more appreci38 AMICI / Winter 08/09