Leander Schaerlaeckens of Soccernet recently wrote a very thorough articleon the real Joe Gaetjens that sets aside many of the myths of the man. Oh ya…who is Gaetjens? He’s the US player that scored the only goal in the famous 1950 World Cup victory against England.
As pointed out in my article last week concerning the new US away World Cup Jersey, when the US steps on the field at Royal Bafokeng in Rustenburg, South Africa on June 12, it will be the first time the US has faced England in a World Cup since that famous day 60 years ago. Nike is clearly replicating the 1950′s sash jersey the team wore when Brazil hosted the games.
With the 60th anniversary of the event, much attention has fallen on Gaetjens. There is still much we don’t know about the man including why he disappeared or how he may have died. But the Schaerlaeckens article is an excellent one and clears up many of the myths about the man, including many created from the inaccurate film released in 2005 called “The Game of Their Lives.”
A man scores a goal in a faraway land.
The goal single-handedly fells a giant.
Nobody knows who the man is, his teammates included. All that is left behind are a few grainy black-and-white photographs. A team picture shows a ruggedly handsome man with piercing black eyes kneeling over the vehicle of his fame, a soccer ball. Another shows him smiling sheepishly as he’s carried off the field by overjoyed Brazilian spectators, not quite sure of what is happening to him.
As unceremoniously as he appears, the man vanishes. The man turns into myth. Unimpeded, myth snowballs into ambiguity. Ambiguity gives way to misinformation.
The gray matter separating man from myth doesn’t collide with the truth until more information is unearthed.
When we finally learn more about Joe Gaetjens, the Haitian striker who scored the only goal in the United States’ astonishing victory over England at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, we discover the man was just a man. One who, like all of us, wanted more than he had.
Few men can stand up to the scrutiny of their myth and come out ahead, truth transpiring as remarkable as legend. Joe Gaetjens can.
Leander Schaerlaeckens from his Soccernet article.
One of the things we do know about Gaetjens is that he was from Haiti. Interestingly, the US have a young American striker in Jozy Altidore who will most likely make the World Cup squad for South Africa. Altidore’s parents are Haitian and the Hull City forward has been a spokesperson for encouraging others to help Haiti after their devastating earthquake suffered this past winter. I find this story very interesting and wonder if fate has something special in mind for Altidore when the Americans line up against England for the first game of the tournament for the two teams.
While we conjure up thoughts of what could be, US Soccer is telling us what will be in that the US will be wearing the new away kits on Wednesday’s game played in Amsterdam against Holland. The US has only faced Holland 3 other times, the last meeting being Feb. 18, 2004, at the same venue, with Holland defeating the US 1-0. Holland has a 3-0-0 record against the US.
US Soccer announced the roster for the game last Thursday. Sixteen European-based, three domestic-based players and one player based in Mexico have made this roster. Bob Bradley has seen most of his US-based players in recent friendlies so this is a chance for the European-based players to get a chance to start to gel again. It also gives him a chance to take a look at players like Eddie Johnson who has just recently started to see playing time again with his new team in Greece.
Another player being called into the squad for this game is Maurice Edu. The US midfielder played in only one minute of one game for the US last year because of injuries. Edu, who plays in the Scottish League for Rangers, seems to be fit again and featured in Sunday’s Old Firm Derby against Celtic. Edu won the game for Rangers with an injury time goal to defeat Celtic 1-0 and give Rangers a 10-point cushion on the Hoops. Edu said: “It was the most exciting moment of my career.”
It’s great to see players like Landon Donovan (minus his missed sitter this weekend) and Edu having very positive experiences going into this summer’s World Cup. Include Stuart Holden in that group as he saw his first start for Bolton this weekend and he played a good game as well. These positives can only help the team’s confidence as they prepare for this summer’s World Cup. Add a healthy Clint Dempsey, who says he will be playing again by mid March, along with a few MLS players like Brian Ching and the US could bring some very positive energy with them into this tournament.
“This is a great opportunity for us to bring many of our European-based players together as we continue to finalize our plans for the World Cup roster,” Bradley said. “This is the final match before we bring the team together for the World Cup, so to have a match against one of the top teams in the world like the Netherlands is a big benefit and a good challenge for our group. They are expecting a large crowd to turn out for the game, and we are looking forward to an exciting atmosphere in Amsterdam.”
US ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Tim Howard (Everton)
DEFENDERS (7): Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Frank Simek (Sheffield Wednesday), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)
MIDFIELDERS (7): DaMarcus Beasley (Rangers), Alejandro Bedoya (Orebro), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Landon Donovan (Everton), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Stuart Holden (Bolton Wanderers), José Torres (Pachuca)
FORWARDS (3): Jozy Altidore (Hull City), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Eddie Johnson (Aris Thessaloniki)
NETHERLANDS ROSTER BY POSITION:
Goalkeepers: Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax), Piet Velthuizen (Vitesse), Michel Vorm (FC Utrecht)
Defenders: Edson Braafheid (Celtic), Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord), John Heitinga (Everton), Joris Mathijsen (Hamburg), Andre Ooijer (PSV), Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord), Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax)
Midfielders: Ibrahim Afellay (PSV), Mark van Bommel (Bayern Munich), Orlando Engelaar (PSV), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City), Stijn Schaars (AZ), Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan), Rafael van der Vaart (Real Madrid), Demy de Zeeuw (Ajax)
Forwards: Ryan Babel (Liverpool), Eljero Elia (Hamburg), Klaas Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan), Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich)
The game will be Broadcast Live at 1:30 p.m.