Written by Steve Holroyd, with supplemental materials by David Litterer
As soccer entered the Roaring Twenties, it was effectively divided into haves and have-nots: in the NAFBL, for instance, Bethlehem Steel and New York F.C. felt they were subsidizing weak sister clubs who came and went yearly. Similarly, SNESL titans like Fall River and J&P Coats felt held back by even weaker sisters. As both circuits were experiencing financial and structural difficulties anyway, the top clubs pulled the plugs on the ailing leagues, and announced that they intended to form a truly major professional soccer league: the American Soccer League.
The league headquartered itself in New York, with offices at 126 Nassau Street. Not surprisingly, Bethlehem Steel's Edgar Lewis was selected as the league's first President. Thomas W. Cahill acted as the circuit's first Secretary. The ASL began its first season with eight clubs, and playing a 24 game schedule. Some teams were based in existing baseball parks, including Harrison and Jersey City (using International League parks), Fall River (Eastern League), and Philadelphia Field Club (Baker Field). New York Field Club and J&P Coates were already set with grounds, and Todd Shipyards renovated their grounds. In a surprising move, the strongest team in the region, Bethlehem Steel, was replaced at the last minute by Falcos of Holyoke, MA. Many of the Bethlehem Steel players were signed by Philadelphia FC, and not surprisingly, won the first ASL title; its arch-rival, Fall River, suffered through a disappointing season, finishing in sixth place. In spite of its initial objective, the new league couldn't shake itself of weak clubs, as Jersey City (NJ) folded after losing its first five games.
The ASL, like the North American Soccer League forty-five years later, attracted many influential backers when it was formed in 1921. Bethlehem Steel would eventually become the power behind the league when the team joined for real in 1923. J&P Coats, a New England textile manufacturer with a headquarters in Scotland, had emulated the Bethlehem Steel method of sponsorship, luring the country's best players and putting together one of the top clubs in the country. Among the Threadmen's notable acquisitions were veteran inside forward Bob Millar, lured from Bethlehem Steel; Charles Lappin, a 21-year old Scotsman plucked from the Robins Dry Dock club; and center forward Albert Mitchell, acquired from Brooklyn's Tebo Yacht Basin club. In spite of this impressive roster, however, J&P Coats only managed a .500 record, winning nine, losing nine and drawing five en route to a fourth place finish.
The ASL's inaugural season introduced a number of players who would go on to star for the league throughout its history. Inside-right Archie Stark made a solid debut with New York, netting 13 goals. Davie Brown, a 24-year old acquired from Erie (PA) S.C. prior to the season, also gave a fair indication of things to come with Harrison. In the nets, New York's Bobby Guedert began an American soccer tradition of top native-born keepers by pacing the circuit in goals against average for New York. Pete Renzulli, another New York native, joined Todd Shipyards from the NAFBL's Robins Dry Dock club, and was ever-present for the Brooklyn club; besides guiding Todd Shipyards to a third-place finish, Renzulli also helped lead his club to the American Cup title. Finally, Findlay Kerr began his long ASL career by leading the league in shutouts with Philadelphia.
The ASL completed a successful first season, at a professional level never seen before in US soccer. It was envisioned that the ASL would soon be followed by professional leagues in other regions of the country, with a national title series to determine a true American champion. Sadly, these visions were never realized, although a league was envisioned for 1923 in the middle Atlantic states, but apparently this never took hold.
Final League Standings, 1921-22 GP W D L GF GA PTS Philadelphia Field Club* 24 17 4 3 72 36 38 New York Field Club 24 14 5 5 59 33 33 Todd Shipyards (Bkln) 24 12 5 7 56 37 29 Harrison Soccer Club 24 8 7 8 45 44 23 J & P Coats (Pawtucket) 23 9 5 9 34 40 23 Fall River United 24 5 1 18 28 57 11 Holyoke Falcos 22 2 3 17 17 64 7 Jersey City Celtics* 5 0 0 5 5 24 0 CHAMPION: Philadelphia Field Club Harrison used to be known as Kearny Erie A. A (NAFBL). Early in the season, Jersey City folded. After the season, Holyoke, and Todd Shipyards withdrew. Leading Scorers GP G Harold Brittan (Philadelphia) 17 24 John Heminsley (Harrison) 22 16 Tommy Fleming (Philadelphia) 24 15 Frank McKenna (Todd Shipyards) 20 15 Archie Stark (New York) 21 13 Jack McGuire (Todd Shipyards) 20 10 Bob Millar (J&P Coats) 21 10 P. Hardy (New York) 20 9 Dougie Campbell (Philadelphia) 24 9 Andrew Burnett (New York) 13 8 Tommy Duggan (New York) 24 8 J. Downie (Holyoke) 20 7 Charles Lappin (J&P Coats) 20 7 George McKelvey (Todd Shipyards) 20 7 Percy Andrews (New York) 9 6 Jack Corrigan (Fall River) 12 6 Dave Brown (Harrison) 16 6 Fred Morley (Philadelphia) 21 6 Albert Mitchell (J&P Coats) 15 5 Paddy Butler (Fall River) 16 5 Jim Ford (Harrison) 16 5 Peter Sweeney (Todd Shipyards) 20 5 Leading Goalkeepers GP GA S GAA Bobby Geudert (New York) 24 33 5 1.38 Findlay Kerr (18)(Philadelphia) 24 36 7 1.50 Pete Renzulli (Todd Shipyards) 24 37 5 1.54 Tommy Whalen (13)/ Danny Knowles (9)(J&P Coats) 23 40 4 1.74 George Tintle (17)(Harrison) 23 44 3 1.91 Chick Albion (16)(Fall River) 24 57 2 2.38 Billy Gray (19)(Holyoke) 22 64 2 2.91
St. Louis Soccer Team retained status as the only league besides the ASL to have fully professional status. Scullin Steel won the league championship by a close 3 points and went on to win the National Challenge Cup by defeating Todd Shipyards FC 3-2. DeAndreis was in the race till the last games. All four teams were evenly matched, and there were many upsets through the course of the season. St. Leo's won the Municipal league title and played the Young Men's Institute F. C. of Memphis in the annual St. Louis - Memphis intercity series. St. Leo's won this series 11-0 and 2-0, although the first contest was a better played match than the score would indicate.
Final SLSL League Standings, 1921-22: DeAndreis joined the league. GP W L T GF GA Pts Scullin Steel 21 10 6 5 40 28 25 DeAndreis 21 9 7 5 36 33 23 Ben Millers 21 8 7 6 37 41 22 St. Louis Screw 21 4 11 6 28 39 14 Champion: Scullin Steel Municipal League: St. Leo's defeated Hense F. C. 2-1, 2-4, 3-1. after winning the Fairgrounds #2 division (9-3-4-22).
The National team was inactive in 1922.
Scullin Steel of St. Louis was crowned champion after defeating Todd Shipyard of Brooklyn, 3-2, on March 19 before 9,000 spectators at High School Field in St. Louis. Allie Schwarz scored two of the Scullin goals, and Cliff Brady had the other.
Todd Shipyards initially had the upper hand in the final match, scoring two goals in the first twenty minutes of play, while Scullins played like they were fighting regelation from the Municipal League. Their forwards were hapless with only the defensive line fending off disaster. But late in the first half, Scullins found their form, utilizing a short-pass strategy among the forwards and even midfielders that was impressive given the uncertain footing caused by the downpour that raged until 15 minutes before game time. Eventually the easterners began to tire and Scullins stamina came to the fore. Switching to a long-ball offense, Scullins scored their first at 37 minutes courtesy of Cliff Brady, who took a Bechtolds cross, and while off balance, banged it into the net. Scullins tied the score 26 minutes into the 2nd half. The game then became a real battle, as Todd Shipyards desperately fought the Scullins juggernaut, but to no avail. With four minutes remaining, Allie Schwartz took a pass from Midfielder Joe Hennessey and lobbed it over Renzulli's shoulder for the winning score. Scullins distinguished themselves by becoming only the second club with an all-American roster to win the National championship.
Scullin had reached the final by beating Detroit Caledonian, 4-0, in its semifinal two months before, three weeks after eliminating Chicago Pullman, 3-0, in the quarterfinals. Todd beat another ASL team, Harrison FC of New Jersey, 1-0, in the quarterfinals and Abbot Worsted of Forge Village, Mass., 2-1, in the semifinals. In the other two quarterfinals, it was Detroit Caledonian 3, Pittsburgh Arden 2, and Abbot Worsted 3, Holyoke (Mass.) Falcos 1.
The Challenge Cup attracted a record 118 entrants from 13 regional associations. Total attendance for the tournament was 95,019, of whom 8,568 were at the final. Total gate receipts were $50,437.47.
In 1922, college soccer consisted of the Intercollegiate Association (Princeton, Cornell, Haverford, Pennsylvania, Harvard and Yale) and a couple dozen independent teams, mostly in the northeast, but with a few teams in the Midwest and even California. Discontent was beginning to grow over the exclusive nature of the IAFL, as more independents wanted to join.
Intercollegiate Association Football League Championship: Princeton (5-0-0)
Penn Intercollegiate Association Football League Champion: Lehigh
All-Intercollegiate Eleven: G - Cooper, Princeton RF - Beard, Pennsylvania LF - Sullivan, Harvard RH - Amelia, Pennsylvania CH - Smart, Princeton LH - Thompson, Cornell OR - Righter, Cornell IR - Woodbridge, Princeton CF - Heiser, Harvard IL - Thomas, Princeton OL - McElroy, Pennsylvania
The sixth annual tournament was held at New York Oval in New York City, in early January 1922.
January 1: America 1, Scotland 4 January 1: Sweden 4, Spain 1 (Spain started the game with great "impetuosity"!) February 22: England 5, Switzerland 2 February 22: Ireland 5, Continentals 1 Semifinals: May 14: Ireland 3, Scotland 5 May 21: England 6, Sweden 1 FINAL: May 28: England 3, Scotland 1
1922 American Cup Final: The American Cup tournament was not held this year.
Dick Kerr Ladies Team Visits the USA tour unique in the annals of US soccer History, a women's team sponsored by the Dick Kerr Ltd. Electric corporation of Preston England, toured the US playing against established men's clubs in the fall of 1922. This was the first major event for women's soccer, and although some people refused to take the team seriously, they performed remarkably well, surpassing everybody's expectations, given that they were playing some of the top teams in the country. Sadly, the team was decades ahead of their time and it would be a long time before the dream would be fulfilled for the women's game, but the significance of this tour cannot be underestimated. Interestingly enough, the team gained much more acceptance in the USA than in England, a staunchly conservative country which did not lift their ban on women's soccer until 1976(!). But their slowness was everybody else's gain in the 1990's.
Dick, Kerr Ladies Tour, September 1922
Sun. 9/24, Paterson NJ: Dick, Kerr 3, Paterson Football Club 6 Sat. 9/30, Pawtucket, RI: Dick, Kerr 4, J&P Coates 4 Sun. 10/1, New York City: Dick, Kerr 5, Centro-Hispano 7 Sun. 10/8, Washington, DC Dick, Kerr 4, Washington Stars 4 Wed 10/11, New Bedford, MA: Dick, Kerr 5, New Bedford Whalers 4 Sat 10/14, New York City Dick, Kerr 8, New York Football Club 4 Sun.10/15, Fall River, MA Dick, Kerr 2, Fall River Marksmen 2 Sun. 10/22, Baltimore Dick, Kerr 4, Baltimore Soccer Club 3
An unusual appeal: A case brought on appeal to the National Commission of the USFA involved Ernest Barbosa, a professional player who had registered with St. Michael's Football Club in the 1921-22 season. After being released on December 8, 1921, he resigned as a professional on January 21, 192. Meanwhile, he had signed as an amateur with the Universal Tigers and played for them on December 26, 1921 against Starlight Football Club. As a result of his misdeeds, Mr. Barboza was fined $25.00, and ordered suspended until the fine was paid!
Regional League Formed in Southeast! The Southeastern Soccer League was formed in late 1922 to play the following season. The league was organized in Washington with a schedule completed, with the league to include teams in Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, Norfolk and Newport News. It is unclear if this league ever played.
The Border War: A little spat arose in northwestern New York when two Niagara Falls teams (Wanderers and MacKenzie's), estranged from the Northwest New York Soccer Association, chose to play across the border in the St. Catherine's and District League of Ontario, Canada. This situation caused considerable anxiety for the New Yorkers as the teams, if suspended could simply laugh up their sleeves while playing in Canada. It was hoped that a planned "peace conference" between the Michigan State Soccer Association, the Ontario Soccer Association and the NW New York Association would reach an understanding.
FIFA: In 1922, FIFA comprised 25 members (4 provisional), with five more membership applications pending. Most existing members were European. Latin America had two members (Brazil and (Uruguay), both provisional.
Last update: March 4, 2005
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