Through "CONCACAF Retro" you will revisit the region's most memorable people, events and crowning achievements.
Donelli scores four goals to lead the Stars & Stripes past the Tricolores in first-ever meetingFor the first and only time in soccer history, a qualifying match took place three days before the start of a FIFA World Cup, when Aldo Donelli scored four times to lift the United States to a 4-2 victory over Mexico on May 24, 1934, in Rome, Italy. The win gave the Americans the last berth in the field of 16 teams.
The playoff encounter, which also marked the first-ever meeting between the Stars & Stripes and Tricolores, concluded the inaugural qualifying tournament in the North American region to the FIFA World Cup.
Mexico and the U.S. had previously competed as the North American region representatives (CONCACAF was not formed until 1961) in the 1928 Olympic Games in the Netherlands and the 1930 FIFA World Cup in Uruguay.They had never played against each other, however, until the match in Rome with both traveling different roads in reaching the playoff.
Under the helm of Rafael Garza Gutierrez, Mexico hosted and won all three of its games against Cuba during the second round of North American qualifying held in Mexico City, March 4-18 (March 4: 3-2, March 11: 5-0, March 18: 4-1).The Leones de Caribe had eliminated Haiti in a three-match series in the opening round earlier in the year.
Meanwhile, the United States, a third-place finisher at the 1930 FIFA World Cup, submitted its application late to compete in the North American qualifying series.FIFA arranged for the Stars & Stripes to face the Tricolores in a playoff at Rome's Stadio Nazionale de PNF just 72 hours before the start of the second World Cup.
In that match, played before a crowd of 10,000, Mexico took a 23rd minute lead through forward Manuel Alonso.
Donelli would strike for two goals (28', 30'), giving the U.S. a lead that in would never relinquish.
In the second half, things didn't get any better for the Tricolores as they were reduced to 10 players following the 52ndminute ejection of defender Antonio Azpiri by the Egyptian referee Yossouf Mohamed.
Fourteen minutes later, Donelli missed a chance, failing to convert a penalty kick.
He didn't let that miss unsettle him, making it 3-2 in the 74th minute with his third goal of the match.
After Mexican forward Dionisio Mejia (75') cut the lead to 3-2, Donelli netted his fourth with three minutes left on the clock.
"We were beaten 4-2, and we lost without any excuses," Tricolores' goalkeeper Rafael Navarro remembered in Carlos F. Ramirez' book - Selección Nacional.
Donelli, who was added to the line-up at the last minute on the insistence of midfielder Billy Gonsalves, became the second U.S. player (and first since 1925) to score four goals in a match.The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native also set a record in most goals in a North American qualifying match.
"Mexico had a team that was pretty equal to ours, but they were not very quick," Donelli commented in Tony Cirino's Book - US Soccer vs. The World."They had a very deliberate style of attack.
"There was not a whole lot of imagination; it was a very predictable and if you did anything, if you moved a bit, it would put them off balance.I was just able to go around the man very easily."
Since that encounter, both teams have met 58 times with Mexico winning 32 and the U.S. coming up victorious on 14 occasions.
The Americans returned to the finals with Donelli, their newest scoring sensation, and four veterans from the 1930 squad (Thomas Florie, James Gallager, Billy Gonsalves and George Moorhouse).They had the misfortune of meeting host Italy in the opener and were crushed 7-1, exiting the competition after one game.
The crowd of 30,000 at Stadio Nazionale de PNF saw the home side jump out to a 3-0 halftime lead, before Donelli scored the Stars & Stripes only goal in the 57th minute with a shot from just outside the penalty area that screamed into the corner of the net.
"I was maybe a step inside the twenty-yard line," Donelli remembered in US Soccer vs. The World."There was a mix-up in their play and the ball just came loose.
"I was in back of the play and instead of dribbling it up, which normally almost everybody would have done, take another step to the right and then take a shot, I didn't take any steps.I just took a shot there and I put it up in the far left corner."
That was the only bright spot for the Stars & Stripes as the Italians went on to score four unanswered goals in the final 27 minutes.Italy went on to win the 1934 World Cup with a 2-1 extra time victory over Czechoslovakia in the final, played in Rome on June 10.
The five goals Donelli scored in Italy would be the only ones of his international career.
Upon his return to the U.S., Donelli became an American football coach at his alma-mater Duquesne University (1939-42) before taking similar positions in Boston University (1947-56), Columbia University (1957-67), as well as with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1941) and Cleveland Rams (1944) of the National Football League.
Donelli, who passed away in 1994, was inducted into the US National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1954.
FIFA World Cup Italy 1934 - Qualifying Group 11 (North America)
24.05.1934: Rome, ITALY; Stadio Nazionale del PNF (A: 10000)
USA - MEXICO 4:2 (2:1)
Aldo DONELLI 28', 32', 74', 87' - Manuel ALONSO 23'; Dionisio MEJIA 75'
USA: Julius Julián; Edward Czerkiewicz, George Moorhouse-C, William Lehman, Billy Gonsalves, Peter Pietras, James Gallagher, Werner Nielsen, Aldo Donelli, Thomas Florie, Bill McLean.
MEX: Rafael Navarro; Antonio Azpiri, Lorenzo Camarena, Guillermo Ortega-C, Ignacio Avila, Felipe Rosas, Vicente García, Manuel Alonso, Dionisio Mejía, Juan Carreño, José Rubalcaba. Sent offs: Azpiri 52'
R: Yossouf MOHAMED (EGY)
1934 Mexico Roster
GOALKEEPERS: Rafael Navarro (Club América), Alfonso Riestra (Asturias)
DEFENDERS: Antonio Azpiri (CID Necaxa), Lorenzo Camerena (CID Necaxa), Rafael Garzon (Club América), Manuel Rosas (Atlante FC)
MIDFIELDERS: Ignacio Avila (CID Necaxa), Carlos Laviada (Asturias), Guillermo Ortega (CID Necaxa), Marcial Ortiz (CID Necaxa), Felipe Rosas (Atlante FC), Guillermo Rosas (Club América)
FORWARDS: Manuel Alonso (Real Club España), Juan Carreño (Atlante FC), Luis De La Fuente (Real Club España), Vicente Garcia (CID Necaxa), Felix Gomez (Club América), Pedro Gonzalez (Club América), Fernando Marcos (Real Club España), Dionisio Mejia (Atlante FC), Jose Rosas (Club América), José Rubalcaba (CID Necaxa), Jorge Sota (Club América).
TD: Rafael GARZA GUTIERREZ
1934 USA Roster
GOALKEEPER: Julius Hjulian (Chicago Wonder Bolts)
DEFENDERS: Thomas Amrhein (Baltimore Canton), Edward Czerkiewicz (Pawtucket Rangers), James Gallagher (Cleveland Slavia), Al Harker (Philadelphia German-Americans), Joseph Martinelli (Pawtucket Rangers), George Moorhouse (New York Americans), Peter Pietras (Philadelphia German-Americans), Herman Rapp (Philadelphia German-Americans)
MIDFIELDERS: Bill Fiedler (Philadelphia German-Americans), Billy Gonsalves (St. Louis Stix, Baer & Fuller), William Lehman (St. Louis Stix, Baer & Fuller), Tom Lynch (Brooklyn Celtics), Werner Nilsen (St. Louis Stix, Baer & Fuller), Francis Ryan (Philadelphia German-Americans)
FORWARDS: Walter Dick (Pawtucket Rangers), Thomas Florie (Pawtucket Rangers), Bill McLean (St. Louis Stix, Baer & Fuller), Aldo Donelli (Curry Silver Tops)
TD: David GOULD
Reference Source provided from Historians Roger Allaway (USA); Colin José (CAN)
For more information or general inquiries concerning historical content, please contact Steven Torres, CONCACAF Director of Information Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.