Karl Marx, "the first time as tragedy, the second as farce."
At Rustenburg on Saturday, the USA team will indeed be hoping history will repeat itself, as either tragedy or farce for an England team so astoundingly humiliated 60 years ago in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. In the 1950 World Cup, the England team was full of stars – Tom Finney, Billy Wright, Wilf Mannion, Stan Mortensen. Even at right back, none other than Alf Ramsey who, 16 years later, was due to manage England to the only World Cup they have ever won. Or, alas, as things stand, the only one that they are ever likely to.
The USA team which so sensationally beat them 1-0 in 1950 was a thing of what you might call odds and ends. Soccer in the States then was an utterly marginal, at best a part-time, activity. The American team included a Scottish captain, Eddie McIlvenny, just given a derisory free transfer by humble Wrexham of the 3rd Division North, and a Haitian centre forward in Joe Gaetjens.
It was off the head of Gaetjens, fortuitously or otherwise, that flew the game's solitary goal. Later, the poor fellow, back in his native Haiti would be murdered by the brutal Ton Ton Macoute. England just couldn't score.