It's in the mist of forgetten times, at the advent of the Great Depression that the US made the trip to Uruguay for the inaugural World Cup in 1930. And the last time the US soccer team would ever make the semi finals of the World Cup. Their success lay single footedly at the feat of Bertram Patenaude who scored four goals in the tournament including the first ever hat trick in World Cup history. Patenaude scored three goals in the 10th, 15th, and the 50th minute against Paraguay on July 17, 1930. But it was not without controversy, as there was some dispute as to the second goal being an own goal. If that was indeed the case then Guillermo Stabile of Argentina would have been the first to claim the distinction and the US would have slid into greater depression. But FIFA upheld the Patenaude goal and his title to the first hat trick.
A bit of perspective. Bertram Patenaude played just 4 international matches for the US, scoring six goals. He was the last US player to score against Brazil when they lost 4-3. He scored twice. The next time a US player would get a goal against Brazil was in 1998.