JAMIE HILL - Sunday, November 27, 2011
Former US U-20 and DC United manager Thomas Rongen recently made headlines for taking on the seemingly impossible task of managing American Samoa.
The Pacific minnows have amassed a hapless record even by the standards of small Pacific nations. American Samoa achieved infamy in April 2001 when they lost to Australia by the eye-opening scoreline of 31-0, the worst defeat in FIFA history.
Prior to the 2014 World Cup qualifiers this week, American Samoa had lost every international match in their history except for a victory against Wallis and Futuna, which was an unofficial match as the French dependency is not a member of FIFA.
Rongen was tasked with leading American Samoa in the first round of OFC qualifying, which consisted of the four lowest-ranked nations in the region, vying for one place at the eight-team OFC Championship in 2012.
Rongen got off to a shocking start when his team defeated Tonga 2-1, the first official non-loss in the country's history. American Samoa followed this with a draw against the Cook Islands, placing them in a tie for first place with neighbors Samoa.
American Samoa's Cinderella run came to an abrupt conclusion on Saturday when Rongen's men fell to Samoa 1-0, conceding a 90th minute winner. While the loss will come as a disappointment after qualification to the OFC Nations Cup came within the country's grasp, the week's results represent an accomplishment that far outstrips anything that American Samoa has ever achieved.