The Year in American Soccer - 1919

Written by David Litterer (

National Association Football League

With U. S. entering its second year in the War, the NAFBL was battered by accelerating losses of players to the draft and enlistment. After adding Harriman Merchant Ship (near Philadelphia), the league was stunned as three teams took a leave of absence just as the season was to start (West Hudson and Jersey would not return, Disston returned a year later). The remaining teams were starving for players due to the heavy loss of players to the war effort. Only heroic efforts of the managers landed enough new players to keep going through this trying year. Even at that, one of the oldest clubs in the country, the East Newark Scots-Americans, was mortally wounded by player losses, and was forced to drop out after five games. Their spot and their record were taken over by Brooklyn Robins Dry Dock.

Bethlehem Steel compiled an undefeated season, conceding only a tie to Merchant Ship, and easily took the league title. The season was an exciting one however, with a plethora of hard fought draws, and one-goal games, as well as a few major blowouts. Merchant Ship and Paterson finished tied for second, a playoff game gave the undisputed spot to Merchant, courtesy of a 4-1 command performance. Babcock & Wilcox continued to perplex. They won their third consecutive New Jersey Challenge Cup trophy, and yet finished last in the NAFBL, and to had yet to advance beyond the first round of the National Challenge Cup. Despite high hopes, they dropped out of the NAFBL after this season. But the NAFBL immediately saw players return after the war ended, and planned on major expansion for the following season.

                 Final League Standings, 1918-1919

Before the season, Philadelphia and Brooklyn were added.

                          GP   W   L   T  GF  GA Pts
Bethlehem Steel           10   9   1   0  37   4  19
Philadelphia Merchant Ship10   4   3   3  19  14  11
Paterson F.C.             10   5   1   4  19  17  11
Brooklyn Robins Dry Dock  10   3   2   5  17  20   8
New York F.C.             10   2   3   5  13  21   7
Bayonne Babcock & Wilcox  10   1   2   7  14  33   4

East Newark Scots-Americans dropped out after five games, and
Their record was assumed by Brooklyn.

Merchants defeated Paterson 4-1 to take 2nd place.

After the season, Bayonne Babcock & Wilcox withdrew.

St. Louis Soccer League

Soccer in St. Louis had been in decline for a few years, due to the dearth of new talent due to the military draft. But with the War's end, the league enjoyed a swelling stream of young talent. Scullins Steel, a newcomer to the league, won the pennant after a bang-up battle with Innisfails on the last day of the season. They were followed by St. Louis Screw (formerly St. Leo's) who finished third, while three time league champion Ben Millers, who lost star center half Len Zeuchel to Scullins, fell to last. Scullins benefited from a late decision to extend the season three weeks after some matches were cancelled due to a brief ban on public gatherings. This gave them time to pull off some wins and claw their way to first place.

                 Final League Standings, 1918-1919

Before the season, Scullins was added and St. Leo's became St. Louis Screw.  

                       GP   W   L   T   Pts
Scullins               21  10   7   4   24
Innisfails             21   9   8   4   22
St. Louis Screw        21   8   8   5   21
Ben Millers            21   5   9   7   17

Champion:  Scullin Steel

Southern New England Soccer League

The other major regional league, the SNESL, cancelled their season due to the War.

Amateur Leagues & Cups

In a pioneering event, Miss Helen Clark was elected third vice president of the Bridgeport Public Schools Soccer League. She was a pioneering female soccer official, having refereed 31 games the previous season. Her accomplishment was unprecedented, and news quickly spread across the country. She also took on the coaching job at Barnum Public School, turning a perennial doormat into a league contender.

Southern New York State Association Cup: Morse Dry Dock defeated Newburg 1-0.
New York Combination Association League: Longfellow. La Sultana Cup: White Rose defeated Clan McDuff 2. Royal Nestor Cup:Clan McDuff defeated Viking 5-2.
New York City High School League:Commerce won title, 11 wins, 0 draws, 0 losses.
New York City Elementary Schools Champion: Public School 62, Manhattan
New Jersey State Challenge Cup: Babcock & Wilcox defeated Federal Ship 5-1
Philadelphia Allied Amateur Cup: Merchant Ship "B"
Western Pennsylvania Football Association Cup: Beadling defeated Dunlevy 3-2.
Pittsburgh Press Soccer League: Morgan (12-0-2).
Southern New England Association: Times Cup: J. & P. Coates defeated Bourne Mill F.C. 2-1. Guy Norman Cup: Fairlawn Rovers defeated Lauren Hill FC 4-2.
Massachusetts State Cup: Fore River defeated Trimo 4-3.
Boston Soccer League: Fore River.
Connecticut State Football Association: State Cup: Bridgeport City defeated Manchester by 2 goals. Spring Cup: Bridgeport City defeated Bridgeport Swedes.
Connecticut State League: Bridgeport Swedes (5-0-3)
Hartford and District League: Hartford United (3-0-1 fall, 4-0-0 spring)
Cincinnati Soccer League: Caledonians (7-0-2). Ramsay Cup: Caledonians defeated Northside 2-0.
Illinois States Association: Jackson Cup: Scottish-Americans. Peel Cup: Scottish Americans defeated Lincoln Park 1-0.
Michigan State Association: Clan Campbell Trophy: Roses F. C. defeated Caledonian FC 2-1.
Detroit & District League: Roses FC (5-1-1).
St. Louis Municipal Athletic Association: Trumbulls defeated Alpen Braus 1-0, 0-2 and 1-0.
Memphis Associated Amateurs Soccer League: Christian Brothers College (11-3-0).
California Football Association: League seasons suspended due to the War.

The US National Team

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

National Challenge Cup

Bethlehem Steel won their third consecutive national championship, on April 19, defeating Paterson FC 2-0. This victory occurred at Athletic Field, Fall River, MA, before 9,000, the largest crowd to this date to attend a Challenge Cup final. Paterson, young and full of energy, and featuring a young Archie Stark (Hall of Fame, 1950) went in against a faster and more experienced Bethlehem eleven. Paterson had the best of the offensive play, and only the stalwart defensive wall of Bethlehem preserved their victory. Future hall of famers Harry Ratican and Tommy Fleming graced the Bethlehem scorecard. In the western Semifinal, Bethlehem Steel defeated Bricklayers & Masons FC of Chicago 5-0, and in the eastern Semifinal, Patterson FC defeated Morse D. D. & R. Co. FC 4-1.

American Cup

The American Cup featured only 26 entries this year. In an amazing coincidence, the Final featured the same finalists from the National Challenge Cup, Bethlehem Steel and Paterson FC. The final result was the same: Bethlehem 2, Paterson 0, on April 19, 1919. Bethlehem had cruised through the earlier rounds, defeating Federal Ship FC 2-0 in the third round and Robins Dry Dock 3-2 in the semis. Paterson meanwhile, had defeated Morse Dry Dock 5-1 followed by 3-2 victory over Merchant Ship's "A" team.

International Tours

Bethlehem Steel to Sweden and Denmark: August 10, 1919 - September 24, 1919. Results: 6 wins, 6 draws, 2 losses.

Roster: A. Blakey, D. Brown, J. Campbell, W. Duncan, J. Ferguson, T. Fleming, S. Fletcher, W. Forrest, J. Heminsley, G. McKelvey, T. Murray, F. Pepper, H. Ratican, J. Robertson, A. Stark, G. Tintle, J. Wilson. Manager: Tom Cahill)

8/10/19:   Bethlehem Steel 2, A.I.K. 2 (at Stockholm)
8/13/19:   Bethlehem Steel 1, Tigrarna 1 (at Stockholm)
8/17/19:   Bethlehem Steel 2, Swedish Provinces 1 (at Stockholm)
8/19/19:   Bethlehem Steel 1, Djurgardens 1 (at Stockholm)
8/24/19:   Bethlehem Steel 1, Norrkoping 1 (at Norrkoping)
8/26/19:   Bethlehem Steel 4, All Skane 0 (at Helsinburg)
8/29/19:   Bethlehem Steel 1, K.B. & B. (93) 1 (at Copenhagen)
9/4/19:    Bethlehem Steel 2, Malmo & Landsrokna 3 (at Malmo)
9/7/19:    Bethlehem Steel 1, Goteborg Kamraterna 3 (at Gothenburg)
9/10/19:   Bethlehem Steel 1, Goteborg Orgryte 0 (at Gothenburg)
9/14/19:   Bethlehem Steel 2, Norrkoping 0 (at Norrkoping)
9/18/19:   Bethlehem Steel 1, All Stockholm 0 (at Stockholm)
9/21/19:   Bethlehem Steel 3, Swedish Select 2 (at Stockholm)
9/24/19:   Bethlehem Steel 0, Hammarby 0 (at Stockholm)

The College Game

Like the amateur and semi-pro leagues, college soccer was decimated by the war, and many teams simply did not field teams this year. The selection of Penn by the IAFL as the best team is highly subjective and somewhat meaningless due to the rosters consisting mainly of fill-ins. The strongest teams in the east this season were Haverford, Penn and City University of New York in the East and California in the West. The NCAA's Soccer Committee spent considerable time brainstorming on how to entice Midwestern colleges to take to the game. For now, soccer remained primarily an eastern seaboard phenomenon, but was having a sporadic presence in the Midwest, and a few teams in California and Oregon.

Intercollegiate Association Football League champion: Pennsylvania

Penn Intercollegiate Association Football League Champion: Swarthmore

College All Americans:
  No team chosen due to World War I.

The Inter-Allied Games

The Inter-Allied Games were established following the end of World War I, in a celebratory spirit, to honor the victorious Allied nations, and were one of the largest international tournaments held to that date. The tournament also served to introduce the new nation of Czechoslovakia to the soccer community. Armed forces members from eight countries took part, with France, Italy, Greece and Romania in group A, and Czechoslovakia, Belgium, United States and Canada in Group B.

The tournament took place from June to June 29 at Pershing Stadium, Paris. Action commenced on June 24 1929 with a 4-0 shutout by France over Romania. Czechoslovakia made an auspicious debut, defeating Belgium 4-1. The United States didn't fare so well. After defeating Canada 5-4 on June 25, they were defeated by Czechoslovakia 8-2 and Belgium 7-0. France and Czechoslovakia won their respective groups, and met for the title. After trailing for most of the game, the Czechs landed two goals in the final five minutes to snatch away a 3-2 victory.

Last update: March 4, 2005

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