New England Soccer Today

Frank Borghi, U.S. GK in 1950 World Cup Upset, Dies

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Frank Borghi, the man who helped backstop an upstart U.S. Men’s National Team to an improbable victory over mighty England during the 1950 World Cup, died on Tuesday. He was 89.

Borghi, who played his club soccer for his hometown St. Louis Simpkins-Ford, was tested by the Three Lions often during the course of the historic upset at Belo Horizonte on Jun. 29, 1950. He earned nine caps for the U.S., which during the 1940s and 1950s, was hardly a force on the global scene.

In fact, Borghi and his U.S. teammates from the Brazil ’50 were a collection of players – many of whom hailed from the St. Louis area – that were hastily organized prior to the start of the tournament. The U.S. had not played in a World Cup since 1934, and were expected to bow out of Brazil quickly and uneventfully.

While their stay wasn’t long, they certainly didn’t depart without leaving a lasting impression. With Borghi and his defenders holding strong, Joe Gaetjens scored the only goal of the game to give the U.S. a thrilling result – one which was originally reported across the globe as 10-0 in favor of England, as many correspondents believed that the 1-0 scoreline on the wires must have been a typo.

Following the heroics of Borghi and his teammates, who returned home to their families without fanfare or media attention, the U.S. would not return to the World Cup for another 40 years.

Borghi and his Brazil ’50 teammates were collectively inducted into the inaugural class of the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1976.

In 2005, the motion picture The Game of Their Lives told the story of the 1950 U.S. side. Borghi was played by Gerard Butler.

Borghi also claimed glory at the club level, as well. He helped St. Louis to the U.S. Open Cup championship in 1948 and 1950.

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