Are you ready for some fútbol? The World Cup kicks off 6/14 in Russia, sadly without the United States men’s national team, who failed to qualify for the first time in 32 years. That spectacular flameout has inspired Men In Blazers co-host Roger Bennett to revisit another US soccer catastrophe from two decades ago: the embarrassment that was the 1998 World Cup.
In 1998, the Americans at least qualified for the tournament. After performing surprisingly well on home soil in 1994 — advancing out of the group stage and losing a hotly contested battle with eventual champion Brazil on Independence Day — the US team saw themselves as plucky underdogs with a chance to win it all. Instead, they marched into France and faceplanted.
Bennett’s new WNYC podcast American Fiasco retraces this story in dramatic fashion. Contributing to the drama is theme music by Big Red Machine, the duo of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and the National’s Aaron Dessner. The theme, which sounds like the Eaux Claires Festival version of a soccer chant, can be heard near the beginning of every episode. The first episode is embedded below; hear the theme music from 2:45 to 3:10.
American Fiasco is also available for download here.