New Kids in the World Cup

The Totally Late '80s and Early '90s Tale of the Team That Changed American Soccer Forever

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Pub Date 01 Nov 2022 | Archive Date 31 Oct 2022

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Description

In 1990, though no one knew it then, a fearless group of players changed the sport of soccer in the United States forever. Young, bronzed, and mulleted, they were America’s finest athletes in a sport that America loved to hate. Even sportswriters rooted against them. Yet this team defied massive odds and qualified for the World Cup, making possible America’s current obsession with the world’s most popular game.

In this era, a U.S. Soccer Federation head coach had a better-paying day job as a black-tie restaurant waiter. Players earned $20 a day. The crowd at home games cheered for their opponent, and the fields were even mismarked. In Latin America the U.S. team bus had a machine gun turret mounted on the back, locals would sabotage their hotel, and in the stadiums spectators would rain coins, batteries, and plastic bags of urine down on the American players. The world considered the U.S. team to be total imposters—the Milli Vanilli of soccer. Yet on the biggest stage of all, in the 1990 World Cup, this undaunted American squad and their wise coach earned the adoration of Italy’s star players and their fans in a gladiator-like match in Rome’s deafening Stadio Olimpico.

From windswept soccer fields in the U.S. heartland to the CIA-infested cauldron of Central America and the Caribbean, behind the recently toppled Iron Curtain and into the great European soccer cathedrals, New Kids in the World Cup is the origin story of modern American soccer in a time when power ballads were inescapable and mainstream America was discovering hip-hop. It’s the true adventure of America’s most important soccer team, which made possible everything that’s come since—including America finally falling in love with soccer.

For more information about the book visit newkidsintheworldcup.com

In 1990, though no one knew it then, a fearless group of players changed the sport of soccer in the United States forever. Young, bronzed, and mulleted, they were America’s finest athletes in a sport...


Advance Praise

“Men’s soccer in America has taken a long and winding road to get to the glitz and glamour we now see with MLS, USL, and the national team. This book is an important reminder to appreciate those who helped build the sport when nobody else cared about soccer. Every page filled me with gratitude for those who came before me.”—Landon Donovan, former U.S. Men’s National Team captain and co-all-time-leading scorer

“A book that transports the reader back to a time when the best male footballers this nation produced toiled way below the radar. Huge love for Adam Elder, who has poured his energy into reconstructing a story that begins with shirtless dancing on a California beach with O.J. Simpson and spirals away from there. Reading this is a reminder of how far we have come, so fast, from a men’s footballing perspective.”—Roger Bennett, cohost of the TV show Men in Blazers

“Men’s soccer in America has taken a long and winding road to get to the glitz and glamour we now see with MLS, USL, and the national team. This book is an important reminder to appreciate those who...


Available Editions

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ISBN 9781496229434
PRICE $34.95 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

Adam Elder has written a joyous romp through US Men’s Soccer’s hardcore return to the World Cup stage. Writing in an active “reporter on the scene” style that captures the action, while drawing on significant waves of nostalgia, you’ll walk away a soccer fan. Thanks to the University of Nebraska Press and NetGalley for the chance to preview this book. #newkidsintheworldcup #universityofnebraskapress #netgalley

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This is a story that needed to be told. I played soccer in high school and college in the 70's and 80's, and coach it to this day. I lived this story from afar, watching all the games and following all the players who shaped soccer in the United States. The author clearly shows a love and respect for the game that is much appreciated. While some of the writing felt a touch awkward, the author's telling of the story was heart-felt and inspiring.

Thank you Adam Elder for this book. I hope younger fans of the beautiful game in America will read it and understand where some of us old guys came from.

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Since the World Cup is being played in the Fall (great pick for a location FIFA!) I was very excited to tide myself over by reading as many Soccer books as possible. New Kids in the World Cup totally brought me back to my youth and the excitement I felt about the US Men's team getting back to the big show. I'm more familiar with the '94 team, but I had so much fun getting acquainted with this ragtag bunch.November can't come fast enough!

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What a blast from the past! Reliving the early years of USA football. This nations has grown so much in the world of soccer a nice reminder of what it took to get to a top 15 FIFA ranking. With the US hosting the 2026 World Cup I’m hoping to build more memories! I believe that we can win!

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