The Year in American Soccer - 1917

Written by David Litterer (

National Association Football League

The NAFBL appeared headed for demise before the start of the season, but was able to re-organize with a new generation of leadership. The league welcomed three new teams - Dublin F. C. of Paterson, New York F. C. and Newark Ironsides. Things didn't start out promisingly for the season, however. Brooklyn FC disbanded after being thrashed in their season opener 11-1 by New York F. C. They were replaced by Splitdorf F. C., but poor support led Splitdorf to fold before playing a single game. The first three months of the season were rough going until the new administration found its bearings, but things proceeded smoothly from there.

Jersey A. C. finished ahead of Kearney Scots and Babcock & Wilcox in a fairly close finish. Babcock & Wilcox, the winner of the New Jersey State Cup, finished 3rd. By the end of the season, the league was beginning to feel the effects of the US entry into World War I as players enlisted in the military ranks. As always, the NAFBL teams acquitted themselves well in the National Challenge Cup and the American Cup, with Jersey A. C., Babcock & Wilcox and West Hudson making decent appearances.

                 Final League Standings, 1916-1917

Before the season, Dublin, New York, and Newark were added.

                          GP   W   L   T   Pts
Jersey A.C.               12   8   1   3   19
Kearny Scots              12   7   3   2   16
Bayonne Babcock & Wilcox  11   7   4   0   14
New York F.C.             11   4   3   4   12
West Hudson A A           12   1   6   5    7
Dublin F.C. (Paterson)    10   2   7   1    5
Newark Ironsides           9   1   6   2    4
Brooklyn F.C.              1   0   1   0    0
Splitdorf F.C.             0   0   0   0    0

Brooklyn F. C. disbanded after their first game and were replaced 
by Splitsdorf F. C. who disbanded before playing their first game.

After the season, Dublin, and Newark withdrew.

New York State Association Football League

The NYSAFL's eleventh season was on par with the previous season - no great improvement, but still satisfactory performance and gate receipts. What had been expected to be a close race turned out to be somewhat less, as Brooklyn Celtic dominated the season, with an undefeated campaign, although they finished with a mere 5 point buffer. Clan MacDonald finished second, while the Overseas Wanderers took the honors in the 2nd division. This was Celtic's fifth consecutive league title, and they added to the honors by taking the Sultana Cup and the Southern New York State Cup to boot.

                 Final League Standings, 1916-1917

                          GP   W   L   T  Pts
Brooklyn Celtic           16  14   0   2   30
Clan MacDonald            16  12   3   1   25
Greenpoint F. C.          16   8   5   3   19
Clan MacDuff F. C.        16   8   6   2   18
I.R.T.F.C.                16   8   7   1   17
Bay Ridge F. C.           16   7   8   1   15
St. George F. C.          16   5   8   3   13
Continental F. C.         16   2  12   2    6
Cameron F. C.             16   0  15   1    1

La Sultana Cup: I. R. T.  F. C. defeated Clan McDuff F. C. 2-1.
Southern New York Association Cup: I. R. T.  F. C. defeated New York F. C. 2-0.

Metropolitan Football League

The Metropolitan League contracted by six teams, leaving eight to take the field. Fulton Camerons and Visitation FC of Brooklyn dominated league play, with White Rose kept the race tight until the final weeks of the season, and Fulton Cameron won the league title on basis of goal differential. The league renamed itself the Metropolitan & District League for 1917-18.

                      League standings, 1916-17

                       G   W   L   D   GF  GA   Pts
Fulton Cameron        12   9   1   2   29  22   20
Visitation FC         12   9   1   2   21  12   20
White Rose            12   8   2   1   22  13   17
West New York Blues   12   6   6   0   41  13   12
Yonkers Rovers        12   3   8   1   22  24    7
St. George            12   2   8   2   10  27    6
Astor Field Club      12   0  10   2   10  34    2

League Championship:  Fulton Camerons defeated Visitation FC 3-2

Annual Metropolitan League/Allied American Association match: Allied American defeated Metropolitan league 5-2.
Royal Nestor Cup: West New York Blues defeated Fulton Camerons 1-0.

St. Louis Soccer League

The Ben Millers again took the league title, their second in a row. But this time it wasn't an easy task, as they remained locked in a three-way battle with Innisfails and St. Leo's which was not resolved until the final week of the season, with the Millers taking the title just 1 point ahead of Innisfails. Innisfails had brought up the rear for half the season, before coming to life and clawing their way to 2nd place. St. Leo's was a point back, in third. Naval Reserves started out fell but struggled during the snowy winter months settling in to last place; although interestingly, only 3 points behind St. Leo's. The parity was quite pronounced this season. Ben Millers, Innisfails and St. Leo's made several tours and also hosted several visiting clubs, and earned good records.

                 Final League Standings, 1916-1917

                       GP   W   L   T   Pts
Ben Miller             20  10   8   2   22
Innisfails             20   9   8   3   21
St. Leo's              20   8   8   4   20
Naval Reserves         20   7  10   3   17

Champion:  Ben Millers
Municipal League Champion:  Keen Kutter's Club

Southern New England Soccer League

The 1916-17 season had been scheduled for 14 rounds, but not a single team could finish because of bad weather and the abundance of cup games. New Bedford F. C. won the league title - the Garcelon Cup - based on season play, with Fall River Rovers and J&P Coates close behind. New Bedford and Fall River continued their rivalry into the National Challenge Cup and the Times Cup, with Fall River eliminating New Bedford from both, by identical scores of 3-1 (in the 2nd and 1st rounds respectively). The Rovers would go on to win the Times Cup, defeating J&P Coates 3-0 in the final.

                 Final League Standings, 1916-1917

                           GP   W   L   T   GF  GA  PTS
New Bedford F.C.            8   6   1   1   18  10  13
Fall River Rovers           8   4   2   2   15  12  10
J&P Coats (Pawtucket)      11   4   5   2   20  18  10
Howard & Bullough (Pawtckt) 7   4   3   0   12  10   8
New Bedford Celtics         8   3   3   2   15  14   8
Crompton                   11   2   6   3   13  20   7
Pan Americans               6   3   3   0    9  10   6
Fore River (Quincy, MA)     5   1   4   0    8  16   0
[Fore River lost 2 points by penalty] 

Amateur Leagues & Cups

Southern New York State Association Cup: Brooklyn Celtic
New York State League: Brooklyn Celtic Sultana Cup: Brooklyn Celtic
Metropolitan and District Amateur Football League: Fulton Camerons (12-9-1-2-29-12-20)
Northwestern New York State Cup: Celtics defeated Clarks Mill 4-1.
New Jersey State Challenge Cup:Babcock & Wilcox defeated Jersey A. C. 2-1.
Northern New Jersey League: Hoboken A. C. (8-6-2-0-12). Playoff: Harrison defeated Hoboken.
Times Cup (New Bedford, MA): Fall River Rovers defeated J&P Coates 3-0.
Connecticut State Cup: Bridgeport City defeated British-American F. C. of Waterbury 2-0.
Connecticut State Foot Ball league: (5th season) Bridgeport City and Bridgeport Rangers tied. A playoff match was held but the score is not available.
Connecticut Amateur League: Bridgeport Rovers (10-9-0-1-19)
American League (Philadelphia): Disston (7-7-0-0-39-4-20). Top Scorer: Frank Brown, Hibernians (10 goals)
Allied American Football Association (Phila.):: Merion Cup - Div. 1: Veteran A. A. (14-9-0-5-23).
Philadelphia Industrial League: Electric Storage Battery. Hohlfeld Cup: Not Available
Blue Mountain Soccer League: (3rd season) Allentown Y. M. C. A. (10-10-0-0-20)
Hartford and District Soccer League: Manchester (12-10-1-1-21) Shield Competition: Hartford United defeated Manchester.
Pittsburgh Press Soccer League: Central Division: Treveskyn (10-9-0-1-30-5-19); MONONGAHELA Division: Dunlevy (12-6-1-5-22-5-17); Westmoreland County Division: Madison (10-9-1-0-37-3-18); Junior Division: Morgan (15-13-1-1-65-12-27). Press Trophy: Treveskyn defeated Dunlevy in 2 straight.
Pittsburgh District League: Braddock. The league suspended operations in 1917 due to lack of enough clubs. West Penn Challenge Cup: Braddock Steel defeated Treveskyn 2-0.
Richmond Association Football League: (1st season): Confederates (6-5-1-0-16-5-10). All-Star Match: All-Stars defeated Near Stars 3-0.
Detroit Soccer League: League suspended due to players serving in the military. National FC and Caledonia FC were tied at suspension.
Michigan State Cup: Roses FC defeated Detroit FC.
Wisconsin State Cup: MacWhytes
Lake Shore Association Football League: (Racine, WI). Horlick (12-9-2-1-26-14-19)
Chicago and District Association Football League: Jackson Cup (1st div.): Joliet Steel Olsen Cup (2nd div.): Harvey F. C. Peter J. Peel Cup (Illinois: Harvey F. C.
Illinois State Association: Founded 1916 with 72 clubs and 1,520 players + the Chicago & District League)
Western Missouri-Kansas Association: Tigers (22-16-3-3-3).
North Texas Soccer Football league: (founded 1915) Dallas (6-4-2-0-16-6-8) (Spalding Trophy: Dallas Soccer Club defeated Baylor 4-0 and then defeated Sears Roebuck 3-1. Utah Association Football Union: Schubach Cup: (1st year) Eureka Daynes Challenge Cup: Arthur Smeltermen (6-5-1-0-10)
California Association Senior Challenge Cup: Union Iron Works
John O. Belis Perpetual Trophy: Union Iron Works
Southern California Soccer League: Uniteds (8-7-0-1-15). Spalding Brothers Perpetual Cup Uniteds defeated Sons of St. George 3-1. Spalding Association Cup: Uniteds defeated Sons of St. George 6-1.
Tacoma City Championship: McKinley Hill Reds (5-3-1-1-7).

The US National Team

The U. S. National team was inactive this year.

National Challenge Cup

The Fall River Rovers won their first National Challenge Cup competition on May 5, 1917 in a grueling match at Pawtucket, RI. This Cup final was a matchup of two of the premier clubs of the time. Bethlehem Steel had won four Challenge Cup and American Cup titles in the past three years. The Rovers were a frequent contender for the Southern New England Soccer League title. Although the fans didn't know it immediately, the game had been settled in the first minute of play courtesy of John Sullivan's goal for the Rovers. From then on, it was a matchup of Bethlehem's superior offense against Fall River's superior defense, with neither team able to break the stalemate. But that was enough to give Fall River the game and the Cup, with a 1-0 win over Bethlehem Steel.

This year, 81 teams entered the tournament, down from 88 for 1916. Fall River had opened their series by defeating General Electric FC 4-0, followed by a 3-1 win over New Bedford F. C., a 3-1 victory over Lynn Hibernians and a 6-1 thrashing of Howard and Bullough, sending them to the eastern section semi-final where they defeated Disston A. A. F. C. of Tacony, Philadelphia 4-3. Disston had made the semi-finals off of a 2-0 win over New York F. C. in the 4th round. In the western section, Bethlehem Steel opened with a 5-0 victory over Veteran A.A.F.C. of Philadelphia 5-0. They then dispatched Brooklyn Celtic 3-1, West Hudson FC 2-0 and Homestead FC 2-1. In the semi-finals, they defeated Joliet Steel Works of Joliet IL 6-0. Joliet had made the semi-final round courtesy of a 4-0 shutout of Detroit's Caledonian F. C.

American Cup

The AFA Cup competition was somewhat marred when an agreement between the AFA and the Southern New England Association and the Northern Mass/NH Association, designed to prevent scheduling conflicts between their respective cup ties, was abandoned by the New England associations. The S.N.E.F.A. claimed that the terms of the contract were not fully reported at their meeting despite the fact their president had signed the complete contract. The end result was S.N.E.F.A. passing a rule forbidding its clubs from entering more than one out of state competition. Having bene forced to choose between the National Challenge Cup and the American Cup, the clubs chose the National Challenge Cup, depriv8ing the AFA event of several prominent teams, among the Fall River Rovers, New Bedford F. C., Pan-Americans and J&P Coates.

Nevertheless, there was good competition from the New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania contingent. Brooklyn Celtic had been unstoppable in league and state cup competition, and surged into the third round where they trounced Jersey A. C. 9-0. Bethlehem Steel, still smarting from their National Challenge Cup competition, made a similarly easy cruise into the third round, defeating New York F. C. 2-1. Rounding out the final four were Clan MacDonald, who defeated Continental 4-1 and West Hudson, who defeated Babcock & Wilcox 1-1 and 4-0.

In the semi-finals, Brooklyn Celtic's juggernaut finally came to an end as they were upended by West Hudson 1-0, while Bethlehem Steel had no trouble with Clan MacDonald, beating them 5-0. The title match was played at Wiedenmayer's Park, Newark, New Jersey on May 13, 1917. Here Bethlehem Steel finally collected the silverware, shutting out West Hudson 7-0 in the most lopsided American Cup final in tournament history.

International Tours

There were no international tours to or from the United States this year.

The College Game

Intercollegiate Association Football League champion: Haverford

Penn Intercollegiate Association Football League Champion:Penn JV

College All Americans:

G  - Osler, Haverford
RF - Iler, Cornell
LB - Shipley, Haverford
RH - Dibble, Cornell
CH - C. Thorpe, Haverford
LH - Barrie, Haverford
OR - E. H. Thorpe, Haverford
IR - Spencer, Pennsylvania
CF - Nassau, Pennsylvania
IL - Corson, Haverford
OL - Tinsman, Pennsylvania

Last update: June 18, 2010

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