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American Fiasco

WNYC

Join host Roger Bennett of Men in Blazers for this story of the U.S. men's soccer team that swaggered onto the international stage and set out to win the 1998 World Cup in France. When they arrived, they faced only one serious opponent: themselves. WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Freakonomics Radio, Death, Sex & Money, On the Media and many more.

Join host Roger Bennett of Men in Blazers for this story of the U.S. men's soccer team that swaggered onto the international stage and set out to win the 1998 World Cup in France. When they arrived, they faced only one serious opponent: themselves. WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Freakonomics Radio, Death, Sex & Money, On the Media and many more.
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Location:

United States

Networks:

WNYC

Description:

Join host Roger Bennett of Men in Blazers for this story of the U.S. men's soccer team that swaggered onto the international stage and set out to win the 1998 World Cup in France. When they arrived, they faced only one serious opponent: themselves. WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Freakonomics Radio, Death, Sex & Money, On the Media and many more.

Language:

English


Episodes

A Word From Rog

5/24/2018
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Long before Men in Blazers, Roger Bennett was just a kid growing up in Liverpool with contradictory obsessions: soccer and America. He moved to the U.S. just in time to witness the sudden rise of the U.S. men's national team in the early 1990s. Now, Rog is teaming up with WNYC Studios to tell the tale of that team's ill-fated mission at the 1998 World Cup. Told through candid interviews with the team, it's a story for soccer fans and non-fans alike.

Duration:00:02:31

How Not To Win The World Cup

5/24/2018
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Coming June 4: Join host Roger Bennett of Men in Blazers for this true tale of the U.S. men's soccer team's quest to conquer the 1998 World Cup. American Fiasco is a 12-part series based on over 30 interviews with the players, coaches, and media personalities who lived out this sporting descent into madness.

Duration:00:02:28

Episode 1: The Dream (On) Team

6/4/2018
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You may have heard by now: There’s a World Cup this year. It’s in Russia so the geopolitical stakes couldn’t be higher...the Cold War heats up again on the pitch! Only one problem -- the United States won’t be there. The Americans were eliminated on the final day of qualification by Trinidad and Tobago. It all reminds Roger Bennett of another dramatic American soccer failure, one that happened 20 years ago. The Americans, still scrappy underdogs back then, began to believe they could be a...

Duration:00:29:58

Episode 2: Steve

6/4/2018
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After the 1994 World Cup, officials from the U.S. Soccer Federation were basking in the glow of a job well done. They had played host to the planet’s biggest sporting event, set attendance records, turned a profit and set expectations high for the future of soccer in America. The U.S. men’s team didn’t win the World Cup. (Come on, let’s be real.) Still, coach Bora Milutinović helped the team advance to the elimination round, where the Americans died with honor at the hands of Brazil. The...

Duration:00:29:53

Episode 3: We’ll Always Have Paysandu

6/4/2018
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1994 World Cup? America nailed it. Regional rival Mexico? Crushed ’em in D.C.! Now it was time for the United States national team to prove it could be successful outside the U.S. In July 1995, the team traveled to Uruguay for the Copa America, a battle royal among South American nations. The U.S. was an invited guest that would face some of the toughest teams in the world. Little did the players know they would also have to scrap with their bosses at the U.S. Soccer Federation. It all...

Duration:00:30:40

Episode 4: Decisions, Decisions

6/4/2018
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Fresh off their impressive showing at the Copa America tournament, the U.S. team was feeling ready to take on the world. Or, more specifically, the World Cup. That was coming up in 1998 and the players were primed to begin the qualification run. “We were a confident team,” remembers defender Marcelo Balboa. “When we walked out on the field, we knew that we could beat anybody in the world.” But exactly who would walk out on that field was the question nagging at every player. Even if the...

Duration:00:30:38

Episode 5: Captain for Life

6/4/2018
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John Harkes was off the team. It didn’t make any sense. Harkes was practically born to play on the national team. He grew up in Kearny, N.J. -- nicknamed “Soccertown U.S.A.” -- where everyone he knew was the kids and grandkids of Scottish and Irish immigrants, and a love of soccer was in their DNA. “We played constantly,” remembers Harkes. “We got kicked off the baseball fields, we got kicked off the American football fields, we got the ball stolen by the police and then had to have our...

Duration:00:33:53

Bonus Episode with Big Cat (Dan Katz) of Barstool Sports

6/4/2018
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American Fiasco isn’t Roger’s only podcast gig. Along with his great friend (and fellow bald) Michael Davies, he hosts the soccer show Men in Blazers. That show’s unofficial slogan -- “Soccer. America’s sport of the future, as it has been since 1972” -- is based on the hilarious expectation that soccer is forever tomorrow’s sport. Always on the horizon, having never quite arrived. When Roger first came to the U.S. in the 1993, Americans were not just inured to soccer’s charms. They actively...

Duration:00:26:35

#11: Little Umbrella People

6/5/2018
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Guest host Jordan Carlos is filling in for Michelle this week – and he’s got some BIG opinions on weather gear. He is joined by comedian and filmmaker Bo Burnham for a thoughtful conversation about his upcoming movie Eighth Grade and how the youth of America are being influenced by people in Silicon Valley who have no idea what they are doing. Our stage is also graced by icon John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) who is just an absolute f**king delight. He educates Jordan on...

Duration:00:40:52

Episode 6: Final Roster

6/11/2018
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The U.S. men’s national team had done it. They’d qualified for the 1998 World Cup. Now it was time to find out which teams they would face. The World Cup draw determines the matchups for the tournament’s first round, the so-called group stage. Imagine the Powerball drawing on your local TV station, except this one is watched by half a billion people around the world. Instead of drawing lottery numbers, a high-ranking FIFA official plucks balls from a bowl. Each ball contains the name of a...

Duration:00:27:12

Episode 7: The Chateau

6/11/2018
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When the U.S. men’s national team departed JFK International Airport for France on June 5, 1998, many players assumed they were headed straight into the heart of World Cup action. Fourteen hours later, they arrived in the middle of nowhere. It’s common for elite national teams to train in isolation during the final days before the World Cup. Argentina was holed up in the town of L’Etrat, in the Loire Valley. The English were hiding out on a golf resort an hour west of Nantes. U.S. head...

Duration:00:26:58

Episode 8: The World Cup Begins

6/11/2018
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On June 15, 1998, the U.S. Men’s national team was waiting to kick off their first World Cup game. The players warmed up in the tunnel before taking the field at Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. Their German opponents were waiting there as well. Of the three games the Americans were set to play, this first one was expected to be the hardest. Germany was (and still is) one of best national teams on the planet. The U.S. team was hoping for a tie, to stay in the running for the tournament’s...

Duration:00:32:41

Episode 9: The World Cup Ends

6/11/2018
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So far, the 1998 World Cup was going pretty badly for the U.S. Men’s national team. They’d just played the Germans, losing 2-0 when they’d been counting on a tie. The next two games, against Iran and Yugoslavia respectively, now mattered more than ever. First up, Iran. As of game day -- June 21, 1998 -- Iran had been America’s sworn enemy for the past 20 years or so. Memories of the 1979 hostage crisis in Tehran still made American blood boil. Even the White House was concerned, calling...

Duration:00:33:30

Episode 10: Injury Time

6/11/2018
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What do you do after you’ve just crashed and burned in a World Cup? That’s what the entire 1998 U.S. Men’s National Team was asking themselves, including the coach. The day after the team lost to Yugoslavia in its third and final World Cup game, Steve Sampson told the Washington Post that he wanted to remain head coach and that he wouldn’t let a few disgruntled players dictate his future. He even threatened to fine players who had aired their grievances in the press. But Sampson was smart...

Duration:00:28:48

Bonus Episode with Stephen Dubner of Freakonomics Radio

6/11/2018
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After chronicling the rise and fall of the 1998 U.S. national team, Roger Bennett -- like Marty McFly in Back to the Future -- jumps into the DeLorean, sets the coordinates for present day, and blasts through space and time to return to 2018. Where he learns the Americans are once again mired in a World Cup fiasco. Fortunately, the smoking-hot time machine has returned him to a studio at WNYC, where Roger sits down to talk with Freakonomics Radio host Stephen Dubner about the 2018 World...

Duration:00:28:18