The United States men’s national soccer team has had a mostly unremarkable history although its form has improved a bit over the last couple of decades with seven straight World Cup appearances from 1990-2014 and four advancements beyond the group stage included within those. However, that stretch was followed by failing to qualify for the 2018 event, a dubious honor that was clinched by a 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago in the final match of qualifying.
But it should be noted that qualifying for every World Cup from 1990-2014 was a significant improvement over not qualifying for any from 1954-86. However, the end result is that the United States had, during this period, only advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals once, in 2002.
Looking further back in the history book, however, does result in discovering a time of World Cup glory for the Americans.
After soccer had been a part of the Summer Olympics for the first few decades of the 20th century, FIFA, the sport’s governing body, decided to organize its own competition, the World Cup. Hosting rights were awarded to Uruguay. Unfortunately, it was not easy for many national teams to get to Uruguay in the days before plane travel became commonplace, and, despite all being invited, only 13 made it to the South American country for the 1930 event.
Once there, the Americans cruised past Belgium and Paraguay by 3-0 scores to easily win its group and advance to the semifinal round, securing themselves a top-four placement for the first and, to date, only time in the country’s history. Although Argentina proved to be too much for the Americans in the semifinals, winning that showdown, 6-1, the United States was able to depart Uruguay with a third-place result.
Impressively, no national team located outside of Europe and South America has finished in the World Cup’s top three since.