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Soccer Wire Decades: 1913-1919

U.S. FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION (NOW U.S. SOCCER) FORMS IN 1913: The U.S. Football Association (USFA) was formed as a result of a jurisdictional battle between the American Football Association (founded in 1884) and the American Amateur Football Association (founded in 1911) on April 5, 1913. Eleven regional state organizations (Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Utah) became USFA affiliates at the April 5 meeting.

FIRST USFA MEN’S SQUAD TOURS SCANDINAVIAN NATIONS: With the Olympic Games postponed due to World War I in Europe, the first USFA Men’s National Team made a six-game tour of Sweden and Norway in 1916. The first USFA Secretary General and Head Coach Thomas Cahill led a 14-man U.S. roster that featured players from clubs in Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
GOALKEEPER – George Tintle (Independent FC, N.J.); DEFENDERS – Albert Blakey (Putnam FC, Pa.), Neil Clarke (Bethlehem Steel, Pa. – NAFBL), Thomas Murray (Bethlehem Steel, Pa. – NAF), James Roberton (Brooklyn Celtic), C.H. Spalding (Disston Athletic Association, Pa.); MIDFIELDERS – Walter Burgin (Philadelphia Wanderers), Matt Diedrichsen (Innisfails FC, Mo. – SLSL), James Ford (Ryerson FC, N.J.), John Hemingsley (Scottish-Americans, N.J.), Clarence Smith (Babcock & Wilcox, N.J.), Thomas Swords (Fall River Rovers, Mass. – SNESL); FORWARDS – Harry Cooper (New York Continentals), Charles Ellis (Brooklyn Celtic)

U.S. DEFEATS SWEDEN, TIES NORWAY DURING SIX-GAME TOUR:  The USFA MNT played the first two international friendly matches in U.S. Soccer history during their six-game tour of Norway and Sweden in 1916, facing Sweden on August 20 and Norway on September 3.  After playing to a 1-1 tie against an All-Stockholm squad five days earlier, the Americans posted their first win in their first official international match with a 3-2 victory over host Sweden in front of 16,000 spectators in Stockholm on Aug. 20, 1916.  Forwards Harry Cooper, Charles Eillis and defender C.H. Spalding scored U.S. goals, while goalkeeper George Tintele earned the win.  The USA continued the tour dropping a 3-0 decision to a Swedish all-star team and then rebounding to post a 2-1 victory over an All-Goteborg team.  A crowd of 25,000 saw the U.S. play host Norway to a 1-1 tie in their second international match in Oslo on Sept. 3.  Ellis notched the only tally for the USA in the draw against Norway.  The Americans closed out the Scandinavian tour with a 3-0 victory over a Swedish All-star squad.

USFA SETS BY-LAWS, ELECTS FIRST PRESIDENT: A series of meetings following the April 5 gathering in 1913 resulted in the formation of the first set of USFA By-Laws.  The by-laws were adopted on June 21, 1913 – the same day Dr. G. Randolph Manning was elected as the first USFA President.  Dr. Manning, who was also the American Amateur Football Association President, was born in England and then educated in Germany.  While in Germany, he was involved in the formation of the Deutscher Fussball Bund (German Soccer Federation) in 1900.

USFA BECOMES FIFA MEMBER: The USFA rushed to apply for membership at the 1913 FIFA Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark.  The application was received after the end of the Congress and then turned over to an Emergency Committee of FIFA, which accepted it pending full organization of the USFA.  The USFA received a cablegram from FIFA on August 15, 1913, notifying it that it had been granted provisional membership in FIFA. The following year the provisional membership was changed into full membership at the FIFA Congress held in Oslo, Norway on June 24, 1914.


NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOOT BALL LEAGUE: The National Association Foot Ball League (NAFBL) operated from 1895-1898 and 1906-1922 along the coast between Philadelphia and New York. After suspending operations in 1898 the NAFBL revived in Kearny, N.J. in 1906. 

ST. LOUIS SOCCER LEAGUE: The first major professional league in St. Louis, Mo., the St. Louis Soccer League (SLSL) was formed in 1903.  The SLSL produced U.S. Open Cup champions Ben Miller F.C. (1920), Scullin Steel (1922), Stix, Baer and Fuller (1933-1934) and Simpkins-Ford (1948).

EASTERN SOCCER LEAGUE: This early professional league operated briefly in the first decade of the 20th century, but did not survive its first season in 1909-1910.  With teams ranging from Boston through the greater New York City region, the league
re-emerged 18 years later.

SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND SOCCER LEAGUE: The Southern New England Soccer League (SNESL) began its inaugural season in 1914-15 with five teams. By the fourth season the SNESL expanded to 10 teams and continued to operate until the 1920-21 season.


BIRTH OF THE U.S. OPEN CUP: The National Challenge Cup – now the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup – started under the aegis of the USFA in 1914.  The Cup was conceived as the country’s national competition open to all teams and players and modeled after England’s FA Cup. Both amateur and professional teams across the USA competed for the Dewar Trophy, which was named after the Sir Thomas Dewar, a Scottish philanthropist, and sports enthusiast who donated the 33-inch pure silver trophy.

EAST COAST SQUADS DOMINATE OPEN CUP COMPETITION: During the early years of the National Challenge Cup (U.S. Open Cup), East Coast teams dominated the competition.  The Brooklyn Field Cup of the National Association Foot Ball League (NAFBL) won the first edition in 1914, followed by the Bethleham Steel, Pa. (NAFBL) winning four titles in a span of five years (1915-1919).  Rounding out the East Coast winners was the Fall River Rovers of the Southern New England Soccer League (SNESL), who took the crown in 1917.


BETHLEHEM STEEL TOURS EUROPE: National Association Foot Ball League Champion and four-time National Challenge Cup winners Bethlehem Steel became the first American professional team to play in Europe when they toured Denmark and Sweden from August 10 – September 24, 1919.  Led by USFA head coach and Secretary General Thomas Cahill, Bethlehem Steel finished the tour with an impressive record of 6-2-6 with four shutouts.  Bethlehem Steel featured three current USFA MNT players (Thomas Murray, James Robertson and George Tintle), along with future stars David Brown and Archie Starks.

Denmark, Sweden Tour – 1919
Date           Match-up                                   Location
August 10  Beth. Steel 2, A.I.K. 2                    Stockholm, Sweden
August 13  Beth. Steel 1, Tigrarna 1                Stockholm, Sweden
August 17  Beth. Steel 2, Swedish Provinces 1  Stockholm, Sweden
August 19  Beth. Steel 1, Djurgardens 1         Stockholm, Sweden
August 24  Beth. Steel 1, Norrkoping 1             Norrkoping, Sweden
August 26  Beth. Steel 4, All Skane 0                 Helsinburg, Sweden
August 29  Beth. Steel 1, K.B. & B. (93) 1       Copenhagen, Denmark
Sept. 4   Malmo & Landsrokna 3, Beth. Steel 2   Malmo, Sweden
Sept. 7   Goteborg Kamraterna 3, Beth. Steel 1  Gothenburg, Sweden
Sept. 10  Beth. Steel 1, Goteborg Orgryte 0      Gothenburg, Sweden
Sept. 14  Beth. Steel 2, Norrkoping 0               Norrkoping, Sweden
Sept. 18  Beth. Steel 1, All Stockholm 0           Stockholm, Sweden
Sept. 21  Beth. Steel 3, Swedish Select 2        Stockholm, Sweden
Sept. 24  Beth. Steel 0, Hammarby 0                 Stockholm, Sweden


1930 U.S. WORLD CUP MIDFIELDER JAMES BROWN BORN IN 1910: U.S. midfielder James Brown was born on December 31, 1910 in Kilmarnock, Scotland.  The youngest player on the 1930 World Cup squad in Uruguay, Brown played all three games and notched the Americans’ only goal in their semifinal loss to Argentina (6-1).  Brown came to the USA in 1927, when he was 18 and joined the Newark Skeeters of the American Soccer League (ASL).  After the 1930 FIFA World Cup, Brown played five seasons in England with Manchester United, Tottenham and Brentford.  He returned to the U.S. after World War II, where he took up residence in Greenwich, Conn. and coached the Greenwich High School team. Brown established the Connecticut State Amateur League in 1950, serving as President. He later coached the Brunswick School soccer team for 22 years as well as the Polish Falcons (ASL).  Brown was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1986.  He passed away in Berkeley Heights, N.J. on November 9, 1994.


Peak Performers: Bethlehem Steel (Pa.) of the National Association Foot Ball League won four of the first seven U.S. Open Cups (1915, 1916, 1918, 1919) and lost in the 1917 final.

Marquee Match-up: The USFA tMen opped Sweden 3-2 in the USA’s first international friendly under the membership banner of FIFA, on August 20, 1916 in Stockholm.

Soccer Shocker: Fall River Rovers (Mass.) ended Bethlehem Steel’s bid for a third consecutive Open Cup Championship, posting a 1-0 victory in the 1917 final in front of 7,000 spectators at the Lonsdale Avenue Ground in Pawtucket, R.I., on May 6.  Bethlehem Steel went on to capture the next two Open Cup titles (1918 and 1919).

Quotable: “All my life I have taken a very great interest in association of foot ball and, with a view to fostering and encouraging such an excellent sport, I shall be pleased to offer to the executive board of your association a trophy of $500 value, to be competed for by the clubs of your association.  I hope this will be the means of yet further stimulating the interest in the game, and may it enthuse the habitants from New York to the Pacific Coast, and I trust that one day foot ball will be found a formidable rival of that great national game, base ball."
– Thomas R. Dewar to USFA Secretary General Thomas Cahill in 1912

National Soccer Hall of Fame
Historical articles and publications by Roger Allaway, Colin Jose, Dave Litterer