Commentary

And 66 years later ...

We all know what happened when the USA and England played at the 1950 World Cup in Belo Horizonte. The USA beat England, 1-0, in what is considered the greatest upset in the history of soccer.

There was no television then, so the first word of the game came via the fingers of the telegrapher. Legend has it that British newspapers thought there was a mistake -- the score had to have been 1-10, for England, not 1-0, for the USA -- though that's never been confirmed.

There was no way you would have missed the score of England's European Championship match with Iceland on Monday. Social media exploded when Ragnar Sigurdsson and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson scored to cancel out Wayne Rooney's fourth-minute penalty for England and give Iceland a 2-1 lead in Nice after only 18 minutes.

If you tuned in on television, seeing was believing as Sigurdsson, Sigthorsson, Kari Arnasson, Gylfi Sigurdsson and captain Aron Gunnarsson outplayed the English and held on for a 2-1 win.

After the game, the French media wanted to know what Sigthorsson, Alejandro Bedoya's teammate at Nantes, thought of Iceland's chances against the host Bleus in the quarterfinals. He said Iceland will have to be more efficient. "We should have beaten the English by a bigger score," he said.

Iceland eliminated England and deservedly so. England was terrible, from keeper Joe Hart, who let Sigthorsson's shot squirm past him, to the subdued captain Rooney, the ineffectual Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane, who was so bad he was booed by England fans.

England coach Roy Hodgson's moves were hammered, from starting Sterling, to bringing on Jack Wilshere and having Kane take free kicks. Afterwards, he did the sensible thing and quit.

Iceland's win over England was an upset but it wasn't a shocker of the magnitude of USA over England in Belo Horizonte.

The USA team was comprised of part-time players in 1950. Goalscorer Joe Gaetjens was a dishwasher. All the Iceland starters were pros, spread over leagues in England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Russia.

The USA advanced to the 1950 finals despite winning one of four games in qualifying. Iceland beat the Netherlands -- third at the 2014 World Cup -- twice in Euro 2016 qualifying. It also beat the Czech Republic and Turkey -- two other Euro finalists -- to advance to the finals for the first time.

In 1950, England came into the World Cup as one of the top teams in the world with a record of 23 wins in 28 games since World War II. Two years ago, Hodgson took England to the World Cup in Brazil, where it did not win a game and finished 26th out of 32 teams.

Still, no one in England thought an Iceland win was imaginable. At halftime of Monday's game, the ITV pundits speculated whether Hodgson would drop Hart for the quarterfinal against France, as if overcoming the 2-1 deficit was a mere formality.

Gylfi Sigurdsson knows all about the English mentality, having played five seasons in the Premier League with Tottenham and Swansea City.

"They thought that this would be a walk in the park," he said. "We had faith in our ability."


5 comments about "And 66 years later ...".
  1. Ric Fonseca, June 28, 2016 at 12:10 a.m.

    Don't cry for me Arg.... oooops, it should be: "don't cry for me Inglaterra...." Apologies for the international play about Evita Peron!!!

  2. So Ker, June 28, 2016 at 1:54 a.m.

    Iceland population: 331812
    USA Soccer playing Population: 11.12 million

  3. Garrett Isacco replied, June 28, 2016 at 8:50 a.m.

    point well made

  4. R2 Dad, June 28, 2016 at 4:25 a.m.

    England ran into a team that plays like they used to, yet they forgot how to defend and defeat a long-ball team that has a poor touch. One of the commentators remarked that maybe England should just let them play, because they'll turn the ball over easily enough. When the entire Iceland strategy is based on getting to 2nd balls, that might have been a good idea. Very happy for Iceland. Not sure what can be done with England; I thought they saved choking for kicks from the mark, but now we're seeing choking during the 90 minutes as well. Harry Kane, free kick and corner specialist? Gaaak! England turned into a squad of ball-watchers in the 2nd half--truly cringeworthy and sad.

  5. Scott Johnson, June 28, 2016 at 6:36 p.m.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. Doesn't England have anyone--ANYONE--better in goal than the execrable Joe Hart? I need at least two hands to count the American keepers who are more skilled. Perhaps English footballers confuse "goal" with "gaol" and stay away from the nets....

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