Monday, June 07, 2010

Carlisle: The Bad Old Days

When the United States clinched qualification for the 2010 World Cup last October, it marked the country's sixth consecutive appearance in the finals of soccer's biggest party, and in every respect it wasn't a surprise. Given the resources the sport enjoys in the U.S. these days, qualifying for the World Cup is the bare minimum that is expected. Any other outcome is borderline unthinkable. Yet there was a time when such expectations were the stuff of fantasy.

Between 1950 and 1990, not only did the U.S. fail to qualify, on only one of those occasions could it claim to have gotten as close as the final hurdle. That came in 1954, when the qualifying journey consisted of a single round of games.

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