1930 marked the 1st ever FIFA World Cup, and it also happened to be the U.S.’s best finish of all time (3rd place). The U.S. won their group by defeating Belgium 3-0 and Paraguay 3-0, which included the World Cup’s 1st ever hat-trick, recorded by Bert Patenuade. The team made it to the semi-finals before losing to Argentina.
1950 World Cup
In what many regard as the greatest upset in World Cup history, the United States defeated England by a score of 1-0 in the group stage. The England team had recently defeated an all-star “rest of Europe” side 6-1 in an exhibition match while the U.S. squad was composed of part-time players who had been assembled almost last minute. The U.S. went on to lose in the group stage after being defeated by Chile 5-2.
1991 Women's World Cup
The 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup was the first edition of the tournament. The U.S. went undefeated through the entire tournament and defeated Norway 7-1 in the final to win the inaugural competition. The team has never finished below 3rd place in the competition’s history.
AFP/Getty ImagesTOMMY CHENG
1991 Gold Cup
The USMNT won the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 1991, their first of 4 championships, and have finished runners-up 5 times as well. The U.S. won all 3 of their group stage matches, defeating Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala, and Costa Rica by a combined margin of 8-3. In front of 39,000 fans in Los Angeles’s Memorial Coliseum, they defeated Honduras 0-0, 4-3 in PKs to secure the championship.
1994 World Cup
The 1994 FIFA World Cup was hosted in the United States and still holds the highest average attendance record over every other World Cup competition. The U.S. fought through the group stage, collecting a shocking 2-1 victory over Colombia, and made it to the knockout stage before losing to eventual champion Brazil.
AFP/Getty ImagesPATRICK HERTZOG
1996 Olympics, USWNT
The 1996 Summer Olympics marked the first time that women’s soccer was played, and it was hosted in the United States. The U.S. went on to defeat China PR 2-1 to secure the Gold Medal and would go on to win gold at 3 of the next 4 Olympic Games.
Getty ImagesDavid Cannon
1999 Women's World Cup
It is the iconic picture of U.S. soccer: Brandi Chastain celebrating her Cup-winning penalty in the final against China by spontanously taking her shirt off and falling to her knees in her sports bra. No yellow card on this instance, just one of the most famous photographs in soccer history. Chastain's take: "Momentary insanity, nothing more, nothing less. I wasn't thinking about anything. I thought, 'This is the greatest moment of my life on the soccer field.'
AFP/Getty ImagesROBERTO SCHMIDT
2002 World Cup
The United States had their best performance since 1930 in the 2002 World Cup, reaching the quarterfinals. They defeated a strong Portugal team in the group stage 3-2, fueled by a Brian McBride game winning goal. In surprising fashion, they defeated a familiar foe Mexico in the round of 16 before they were defeated by runners-up Germany.
AFP/Getty ImagesPORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL
2009 Confederations Cup
Despite being drawn into a group with Brazil, Egypt, and Italy, the United States made it through to the semi-finals where they were matched up with Spain. The U.S. defeated the world’s #1 ranked team and ended their record 35 match undefeated streak, advancing to their first-ever final, where they lost to Brazil 3-2.
AFP/Getty ImagesROBERTO SCHMIDT
2010 World Cup
Every U.S. Soccer fan will remember where they were when Landon Donovan scored this stoppage time goal against Algeria. With their World Cup lives on the line, Donovan put away the break-away goal, sending the U.S. through to the round of 16 and finishing top of their group for the first time since 1930.
AFP/Getty ImagesTIMOTHY A. CLARY
2013 Snow Game
In a game that many thought would be called off, the U.S. emerged victorious. In the 2014 World Cup Qualifier, Clint Dempsey scored early and the team held on for a dramatic 1-0 victory over Costa Rica despite the heavy snow storm.
Getty ImagesDustin Bradford
2014 World Cup
Nobody gave USA a chance in 2014 after they were drawn into the 'Group of Death' along with Germany, Ghana and Portugal. The Stars and Stripes did themselves proud, beating Ghana, drawing with Portugal and narrowly losing to European heavyweights Germany. USA fought hard against Belgium in the Round of 16, but it wasn't enough as Jurgen Klinsmann's men crashed out.