US goalkeeper and St. Louis native Frank Borghi passed away on Monday, February the 2nd. He is well remembered for his performance against England in the 1950 World Cup, where he shutout the heavily favored opposition in a 1-0 win for the US. As the whistle sounded, hundreds of Brazilians stormed the field to carry both Borghi and goalscorer Joe Gaetjens off on their shoulders. David Litterer recapped the game well:
"The big play came in the 37th minute as Ed McIlvenny directed a throw-in to Walter Bahr, who took it at the 35 yard mark and carried it for ten yards, taking a shot that angled forward the left side of the net. Goalkeeper Bert Williams moved over to make the save, but Joe Gaetjens dove for the ball, heading it into the opposite corner of the net, catching Williams completely off guard. Although the British press tried to belittle the goal in their reports, it was clearly no mistake or accident. England had a great deal of time to equalize, but they failed to do so. The US hung on with caution and determination, frustrating several plays during the second half. On another occasion he was rugby-tackled by Charlie Colombo 35 yards out. Later, Frank Borghi made a terrific save off of a subsequent free kick which was headed by Jimmy Mullen. England tried player switches, but nothing worked, and as they grew increasingly frustrated, their offensive plan degenerated into hopeless scoring attempts. Late in the game, John Souza did a little stalling by dribbling around half a dozen English players. Later in the game, Frank Wallace took a pass from Pariani while in excellent scoring position, but lost the ball to the goalkeeper. Nevertheless, the US hung on for the 1-0 victory. The strongest team in the world had been defeated by a side of semi-professionals from a country that some didn't even expect to be able to field a side of 11 players."
Less remembered are his performances against Cuba in the 1950 World Cup qualifying, known then as the 1949 NAFC Championship. The US tied Cuba 1-1 in the first match of a three team double round robin. Mexico won the tournament handily, but the US topped Cuba 5-2 in their last match to qualify for the second and final spot from the North American Football Confederation, the predecessor to CONCACAF. Borghi also played for the club St. Louis Simpkins-Ford, winning the Khoury League three times in seven years. They also won the later re-named US Open Cup twice, once in 1948, where he faced off against Joe Gatejens, and again in 1950. In 1955, one of the club's last years of existence, he was named the league MVP. In 1976 the entire USMNT was inducted into the US Soccer Hall of Fame.
A recipient of the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, Borghi has always been spoken of highly. Teammate Walter Bahr said in an interview with Grant Wahl, “Frank was one of the nicest people you’d want to meet, and he was an outstanding goalkeeper. Frank had an ability to play the whole goal area, and he was sharper than most goalkeepers in coming off his line. Lots of people gave the credit for that ability to his baseball talents. He was always one of the best goalkeepers for cheering players up after a game if someone had cost us a goal. Frank would never complain, and he never put the blame on anyone else.”
In 2011, Borghi spoke with Scott Bandle about memories surrounding the game. It's a short interview but he comments on small intricacies of the game, as well as the 2005 film, the Miracle Match, featuring Gerald Butler playing Borghi. Here is another interview featuring Borghi and Harry Keough talking about the upset with English outlet ITV and some late pictures of him, I believe, with the 1950 team from 2013. He is survived by his wife Rosie Marie and their seven children.