Harry Keough of 1950 US World Cup team dead at 84
Harry Keough, who played for the U.S. soccer team that famously
upset England at the 1950 World Cup, died Tuesday at his home in
St. Louis. He was 84.
U.S. Soccer Federation spokesman Michael Kammarman said his
death was confirmed by son Ty Keough, who also played for the
American national team.
A defender who had one goal in 19 appearances for the U.S. from
1949-57, Keough coached Saint Louis University to five NCAA soccer
titles. He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in
”Harry was a true pioneer, representing the finest of a
generation of men and women who built the foundations for soccer in
the United States on which we stand today,” U.S. Soccer Federation
President Sunil Gulati said. ”While his participation on the U.S.
team that beat England in the 1950 FIFA World Cup remains a memory
that fans around the world treasure, it is his lasting contribution
to soccer in St. Louis and around the country as a player and a
coach that will be his true legacy.”
Keough started all three games for the Americans at the1950
World Cup and was captain when the U.S. played Spain in its opener.
The 1-0 win over England in the Americans’ second game is regarded
by many as the greatest upset in soccer history.
”We didn’t feel we needed to beat them, but we felt if we could
just play pretty good, it would be enough,” Keough recalled in a
2002 interview with The Associated Press. ”In our minds, if we
lost 2-0, we’d feel pretty good about ourselves.”
Growing up in St. Louis when it was the nation’s soccer center,
Keough was a youth player for the St. Louis Schumachers. While
serving in the Navy after World War II, he joined the San Francisco
Barbarians. After the military, he played in St. Louis for Paul
Schulte Motors and was picked for the U.S. team at the 1949 North
American Football Confederation Championship, which served as
qualifying for the World Cup.
He was among five from the St. Louis area in the starting lineup
against England, a group profiled in the 2005 movie ”The Game of
On June 29, 1950, at Belo Horizonte, the U.S. faced a lineup
that included Alf Ramsey, Tom Finney and Stanley Mortensen.
Surprisingly, the Americans went ahead in the 37th minute when
Walter Bahr collected a throw-in from Ed McIlvenny and took a shot
from about 25 yards out that Joe Gaetjens deflected past goalkeeper
Bert Williams with a diving header.
”They were outplaying us. We were chasing them most of the
time,” Keough said during a 2005 interview with the AP. ”My
thought was … `They’re really going to come down on us
”For us to be ahead at the half was one thing,” he added.
”For us to hold it was another.”
A right back, Keough remembered the England players starting to
panic in the final minutes.
”They could see it slipping from them,” Keough said. ”They
didn’t ever dream we could beat them. Neither did we, for that
The U.S. held on for the victory, which was front-page news in
England but was buried deep in most U.S. sports sections. The
Americans fell behind Chile by two goals in their next game, came
back to tie early in the second half but were eliminated with a 5-2
Keough’s only goal for the U.S. national team was against Canada
in a World Cup qualifier in 1957. He also played for the American
teams at the 1952 and 1956 Olympics, both eliminated with opening
losses by a combined score of 17-1. He played for St. Louis Kutis,
who won the 1957 U.S. Open Cup and the National Amateur Cup from
An employee of the U.S. Postal Service while a player, Keough
coached Florissant Valley Community College, then was hired by St.
Louis. His first team was NCAA co-champion in 1967, and he went on
to coach the Billikens to titles in 1969, 1970, 1972 and 1973. He
retired after the 1982 season with a record of 213 wins, 50 losses
and 22 ties.
His son Ty played eight games for the American national team in
1979-80 and later broadcast soccer for ABC, ESPN and TNT.
With Keough’s death, the USSF believes Bahr, Frank Borghi and
John Souza are the last surviving members of the 1950 American
World Cup team.
In addition to his son, Keough is survived by wife, Alma, and
daughters Colleen and Peggy.