The Year in American Soccer - 1916

Written by David Litterer (

In 1916, the US National Team was reconstituted for the first time since the establishment of the USSF, marking the birth of the modern era for the squad. The team embarked on a successful tour of Sweden and Norway, winning its first international game over Sweden 3-2. Plans for Olympic competition fell through however, due to the cancellation of the games because of World War I. On the domestic front, amateur circuits continued to show growing attendance and improved quality of play, although league schedules were often hampered by inclement weather. Bigger challenges would arrive in coming seasons as rosters were depleted by the call-up for the U.S. entry into the War.

National Association Football League

A greatly reduced NAFBL saw only six of eight team complete the season, with the Harrison Alley Boys winning their first league title, while perennial powerhouse Kearny Scots and the surging upstart Babcock & Wilcox took second and third place respectively. Both teams made good runs in the national cup competitions, with Babcock & Wilcox making it to the finals of the American Football Association Cup competition. Despite the prevalence of bad weather through much of the season, fan interest showed a healthy increase, partially due to the tight race among the top three teams.

                 Final League Standings, 1915-16

Before the season, Harrison and Bayonne were added.

                          GP   W   L   T   Pts
Harrison Alley Boys        8   5   2   1   11
Kearny Scots               7   4   2   1    9
Bayonne Babcock & Wilcox   5   3   0   2    8
West Hudson A.A.           3   1   0   2    4
Brooklyn F.C.              3   1   2   0    2
Jersey A.C.                4   0   4   0    0
Haledon Thistles           (withdrew during season)
New York Clan MacDonald    (withdrew before start of season)

After the season, Harrison withdrew

St. Louis Soccer Leagues

At last, peace was reached between the two factions of the pro soccer scene. With this, the St. Louis League, which had been split into two rival circuits for the past two seasons, was reunified, with Ben Millers, Innisfails and the fading St. Leo’s joining the Naval Reserves F. C. The remained of the teams folded and their players were dispersed among the raining teams. For much of the season, the league race was right, with Ben Millers pulling away to win the crown handily. This season marked a changing of the guard to some extent. St. Leo's, looking for their 8th consecutive league title, fell to last place (and would eventually drop down to Muny League territory). Meanwhile, Ben Millers copped their first title, and would go on to win 5 more over the next decade, making them one of the most notable dynasties in the league's history.

             Final St. Louis League Standings, 1915-1916

Before the season, Columbus moved to Naval Reserve.

                       GP   W   L   T   GF  GA   Pts
Ben Millers            20  12   5   3   45  22  27
Innisfails             19   7   6   6   25  23  20
Naval Reserve F.C.     20   4   8   8   25  36  16
St. Leo's              19   4   8   7   15  39  15

Champion:  Ben Millers
St. Louis Municipal League:  Missouri Athletic Association

Southern New England Soccer League

The other major regional league, the SNESL, was not able to complete their schedule due to numerous cancellations from bad weather. Fore River was leading when the season was called.

Chicago & District Association Football League:

The internecine strife of the past two seasons dissipated, allowing a relative peace to prevail among the various leagues of the region. Pullman again won the CADFL league title, although the Chicago Americans finally broke Pullman's lock on the Peel Challenge Cup, taking the top honors this year.

        First Division standings

Pullman           14  12  1  1  47  11  25
Joliet            14  12  1  1  44   7  25
Chicago Americans 14   8  3  3  25  17  19
B & M             14   6  7  1  23  25  13
Rovers            14   5  8  1  17  26  11
MacDuffs          14   4  9  1  13  42   9
Hyde Park Blues   14   4 10  0   9  16   8

Peel Cup winner: Chicago Americans.

Amateur Leagues & Cups

Massachusetts State Cup:Fore River FC of Quincy defeated Lynne Fosse F.C. 7-1.
Southern New England Championship: New Bedford F.C. defeated J & P Coates 2-1.
Boston & District League: South: Lynn Fosse (8-1-2-26-9-18); North: Brockton (7-2-1-15-12-15). Championship game: Lynn Fosse defeated Brockton 5-1.
Connecticut State Cup: Bridgeport City defeated New Haven 3-1.
Spring Cup: Bridgeport City defeated Swedish FC 13-1.
Connecticut State League:Bridgeport City (8-0-0-16)
Connecticut Amateur League: Bridgeport Rovers (new this year) (12-2-0-24)
Rhode Island League: Crampton (13-1-0-44-9-26)
Providence & District League: Lonsdale (12-2-2-46-18-26)

Field Club Soccer League (So. New York): Staten Island (10-7-2-1-15) Crescent Challenge Cup: (Postponed, as of the Spalding Guide's press time, Bensonhurst & Montclair to play final)
Saturday Amateur Soccer League (NYC): Columbia Ovals (8-7-0-1-14) Manufacturers Soccer League (Newark, NJ): Simms Magnolia
Rochester & District League: Sunday League: Reach Cup: McNaughtons; Prince of Wales Cup: Rochester City;
Northwest Challenge Cup: Niagara Wanderers

New Jersey State Challenge Cup: Babcock & Wilcox

Allied American Football Association (Philadelphia): First Division: Putnam (18-14-1-3-45-12-31)
Allied Amateur Cup (Philadelphia):Putnam defeated Wanderers in the final, 3-0
American Soccer League (Philadelphia):Disston
Western Pennsylvania State Cup: Homestead Steel Works defeated Beadling 2-2, 3-2.
Pittsburgh & District Association Football League: Noblestown (10-9-1-0-18) (also won Cup)

Michigan State Association Football League: Caledonia (10-2-2-25-12-24 - 2 points deducted for use of ineligible player).
Ohio State Football Association Cup: Cleveland Club defeated Thistles 4-2.
Bowler Cup (Cleveland): Thistles defeated Rubber City 5-3.
Milwaukee & District Soccer League: MacWhytes (10-2-0-50-10-20) League folded at end of season; replaced by Milwaukee Soccer League.
Missouri-Kansas Soccer League: Tiger F.C. (8-6-2-0)
Colorado League of Association Football:
Denver         7  6  1  28   4  12
Gordons        7  5  2  17  12  10
Independents   6  2  4   3  23   4
Sacred Heart   6  0  6   0   9   0
Rocky Mountain League: League formed, then folded without ever playing a game.
Colorado State Championship: Denver defeated Gordons, 4-0.
California Football Association Senior Cup: Union Iron Works defeated Celtics 1-1, 3-1)
John O Belis Perpetual Trophy: Olympic
California Soccer League (San Francisco): Olympic (20-16-2-3-64-18-34)
Southern California Soccer League: United. A.G. Spalding Cup: Los Angeles A.C.
Washington State: Seattle Post-Intelligencer cup won by Seattle Celtics. McMillan Cup: Tacoma.

The US National Team

With the establishment of the USSF in 1913, major efforts were made to develop soccer on a national level. The first effort was to develop a viable national championship, realized as the National Challenge Cup (Now U.S. Open Cup) in 1914. Recognizing the need for international competition, plans were made for a "home championship" similar to the one in England. The New York Footballers Association offered the International Cup and used the profits from the tournament for an insurance fund for injured players. Immigrant players formed teams representing their native countries, with a team representing US born players. This competition was popular enough to be continued through the mid 1920s.

The next logical step was international competition. The first chance came in 1916 when the U.S. accepted invitations from Norway and Sweden to play a series of exhibitions. The USFA assembled a team of top players from the Northeast states as the All-American Soccer Football Club, and thus was born the Men's National Team. The squad was captained by Thomas Swords of the Fall River Rovers. Other players included Clarence Smith of Bayonne Babcock & Wilcox, James Ford of Kearny Ryerson, Harry Cooper of New York Continentals, C.H. Spaulding of Philadelphia Disston, Charles Ellis and James Robertson of Brooklyn Celtic, and Thomas Murray & Neil Clarke of Bethlehem Steel. The lone Midwest member was Matt Diedrichsen of St. Louis Innisfails. Thomas Cahill, USFA secretary was manager. The team had ample time to train & condition during the long ocean liner voyage to Europe.

The Americans opened their tour on August 16 1916 against an all-star side from Stockholm, playing to a 1-1 draw before 20,000 fans in a fast, aggressive game. John "Rabbit" Heminsley of Newark Scottish-American, took a cross from James Ford to score the US goal. Five days later, the U.S. played their first full international game against a side selected by the Swedish Federation. Sweden was playing their 32nd game since 1890, most previous games were against Norway and Finland. This match was witnessed by a crowd of 21,000 including King Gustav V. The US defense was strong and well organized, but the attacking game faltered in the rain. Nevertheless, Thomas Swords was able to evade the Swedish defensive line to open scoring. In the 2nd half, scoring started in earnest with Ellis putting the US ahead 2-0. Sweden scored ten minutes later, but Harry Cooper soon made a fantastic run down the left side to put it in the net. Sweden battled mightily, scoring five minutes before the end, but the US prevailed 3-2.

A few days later, the U.S. was defeated 3-0 in Stockholm by a team of Swedish all-stars. This was followed by a 2-1 win over a squad of local all-stars in Gothenburg, billed as a rematch of the US-Sweden tilt. After the U.S. victory a mob attached several players during the general disorder after the game.

The U.S. traveled to Kristiania (now Oslo), Norway for a September 3 match against the Norwegian national team, a side who had never won an international match. The U.S. played much of the match shorthanded (they lost players in the 35th minute and late in the game; back then substitutions were not allowed for injured players). Nevertheless, they were able to deny Norway their first win, leaving with a 1-1 draw. The Americans closed out their tour by returning to Stockholm for a rematch with the all-star squad who had defeated them two weeks earlier. This time, the US got their revenge, winning 2-1. The team then played a pair of demonstration baseball games against Vasteras, a local team, even loaning the opponents four players to round out their side. The tour was successful enough that Ellis and Davenport accepted offers to remain behind as coach and trainer for the Stockholm soccer team.

National Challenge Cup

, Bethlehem Steel won their second consecutive National Challenge Cup on May 6, 1916 at Coates Field in Pawtucket, RI., defeating the Fall River Rovers 1-0. In the fourth round, Continental F. C. of New York had defeated Bridgeport A.F.C 1-0, and Bethlehem Steel shut out West Hudson A. C. 1-0. In the perennial southeastern Mass rivalry, Fall River Rovers defeated New Bedford F. C. 6-0 after a 1-1 draw, and Pullman A.F.C. of Chicago defeated Cleveland Thistles 3-1. In the Eastern Division final, Fall River defeated Centennial FC of New York City 1-0. In the Western Division final, Bethlehem Steel defeated Pullman AFC of Chicago 1-0 in a replay, after playing to a scoreless draw in the first game.

American Cup

The American Cup featured only 37 entries this year. Bethlehem Steel made history by becoming the first team to win both the National Challenge Cup and the American Cup in the same year. The American Cup consisted primarily of Eastern region teams, almost 30 of which also played in the Challenge Cup. In the semifinals, Scottish Americans FC defeated Babcock & Wilcox 3-1, while Bethlehem Steel scored 3 goals in a defeat of Fall River Rovers. Bethlehem Steel then went on to beat Scottish Americans 3-0 to take the trophy for the first time.

International Tours

In the first American tour abroad, the US Football Association established the All-American Soccer Football Club to represent the United States in a tour of Sweden and Norway. See results above under "National Team".

The College Game

Intercollegiate Association Football League champion: Pennsylvania

Penn Intercollegiate Association Football League Champion: Penn JV

College All Americans:
G -  Cohu, Princeton
RF - Edwards, Pennsylvania
LF - Shipley, Haverford
RH - Wood, Yale
CH - Hoskins, Princeton
LH - Mohr, Pennsylvania
OR - Bozby, Haverford
IR - Preyer, Princeton
CF - Baron, Pennsylvania
IL - Cooke, Harvard
OL - Tinsman, Pennsylvania

Last update: May 30, 2008

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