The Year in American Soccer - 1929

Written by David Litterer

The Soccer War

The Soccer War was a momentous event in the annals of US Soccer History, one which not only served as a decisive battle for power between the United States Football Association and the American Soccer League, but also led to the end of the first golden era of American Soccer. The dispute centered over the objections of the American Soccer League to the playing of US Open Cup (National Challenge Cup) games during the league season. The League claimed this disrupted the schedule and caused confusion among its fans, as well as creating an arduous playing schedule for the players. Although the immediate issue was participation of ASL teams in the Open Cup, the real underlying struggle was centered around who would be the controlling organization of soccer in the United States.

The League and the association had come to loggerheads before, when the ASL pulled its teams from the Cup in 1924-25, an action which led to its suspension by the USF. There was also lingering resentment over the fracas that ensued over the ASL's signing in 1927 of a number of European players by offering them more lucrative contracts than their European counterparts were able to afford. This nearly led to the suspension of the USFA by FIFA, but the Association was able to forestall expulsion by agreeing to a number of sanctions and limitations. A number of ASL teams chafed under the new limitations and sought to free themselves from USFA control.

This time however, when the League refused to allow its teams to enter the Cup competition, three teams, Bethlehem Steel, Newark Skeeters and the New York Giants defied the league and entered anyway. This led to their suspension by the League and they were also fined $1,000 each. The teams then appealed to the USFA who gave a stern warning to Bill Cunningham, ASL president. When he took no action, the ASL was suspended by the USFA.

The ASL, unfazed, began the 1928-29 season as an outlaw league, minus the three suspended teams. The USFA then played a major role in the formation of the new Eastern Soccer League, which took in the three renegade ASL teams and several teams from the Southern New York Soccer Association. The New Bedford Whalers of the ASL joined the league for a time as well. This action led to two rival leagues competing in the 1928-28 season, and also caused a rift between the SNYSA and the USFA, with the SNYSA allying itself with the ASL. Both the ASL and SNYSA applied for FIFA membership but were turned down. This led to a grim and contentious season with financial losses mounting on all sides.

American Soccer League

The ASL, now minus the Newark Skeeters, New York Giants and Bethlehem Steel, began its season amid the turmoil of the soccer war. As in the previous season, the season was divided into two halves. This season marked the rise of the Fall River marksmen who won both halves of the season, rendering a postseason championship series unnecessary. The defections were felt most clearly with the loss of Bethlehem Steel, which took Tom Gillespie and Archie Stark, two of the league's most prolific scorers with them. However, this was offset somewhat with the arrival of Janos Nehadoma, of the Brooklyn Wanderers, who tied for the scoring lead with the rising Werner Nilsen (Boston Wonder Workers), both netting 43 goals. Nilsen had his best year in the league, coming off of a tour of Scandinavia with the Viking club. Meanwhile, Johnny Nelson had one of his best seasons, as he moved between three teams, scoring 39 goals.

The Boston Wonder workers slumped badly, finishing sixth during the first half of the season, and bringing up the rear in the second. Even Billy Gonsalves only managed 10 goals. To flesh out the schedule, the ASL added Philadelphia FC, who, only being able to play a partial schedule, also finished near the bottom. J&P Coates, which had run into financial trouble, came under new management, and was renamed the Pawtucket Rangers. This team would gain some distinction in coming years and saw marked improvement in the 2nd half. A franchise in Jersey City played briefly in the 2nd half but folded quickly.

Turmoil continued as the New Bedford Whalers bolted during the 2nd half to join the Eastern Soccer League. Although the league dispensed with a championship series, the American Cup was revived one last time, with the Providence Gold Bugs defeating the New York National 2-2 and 4-2. The cup was not revived however, given the new alliance between the ASL and the NYSA which provided another outlet for teams from these two leagues for post-season competition. The Lewis Cup was still played however, with the New York Nationals sweeping the New Bedford Whalers, 2-3, 2-1, 4-2

The ASL commenced its second season in the Fall of 1929 as an outlaw league. This truncated season saw continued dominance by the Fall River Marksmen (who won the league title), and the Providence Gold Bugs. The New Bedford Whalers rejoined the league, along with a new club, Brooklyn Hakoah, comprised of some of the players from the old Hakoah Vienna team, which had stayed in the US after their highly successful American tour. The Boston Wonder Workers enjoyed a major renaissance, partly thanks to the scoring prowess of Werner Nilsen and Dave McEachran. The top scorers in the league were familiar faces, most particularly Billy Paterson of Providence, Johnny Nelson of the New York Nationals, and Bert Patenaude of Fall River.

When the Soccer War concluded on October 9, the ASL regained its sanctioning by the USSF, and moved towards a merger with the EPSL. They actually continued play for a couple weeks after the settlement before abandoning the fall season with Fall River leading the league. Some ASL teams played a series of "round robin" exhibition games with EPSL teams for a couple weeks, until the league merged with the EPSL to begin a new Spring 1930 season (as the Atlantic Coast League) on November 9, 1929.

                 Final ASL League Standings, 1928-29

Before the season, Philadelphia was added.  Providence became the Gold Bugs.
Bethlehem Steel, New York Giants, and Newark withdrew 
to help form the EPSL II.

                       GP   W   D   L  GF  GA  PTS  PCT
Fall River Marksmen    31  17   9   5  64  36   43  .694
Brooklyn Wanderers     31  18   6   7  79  61   42  .677
New York Nationals     29  13   8   8  70  53   34  .586
Providence Gold Bugs   24  13   5  11  53  44   31  .534
New Bedford Whalers    29  11   6  12  51  47   28  .483
Boston Wonder Workers  28   8   8  12  49  60   24  .429
Philadelphia Field Club18   3   6   9  27  40   12  .333
J & P Coats (Pawtucket)28   4   7  17  28  69   15  .268
New York Giants         8   3   2   3  15  17    8  .500
Bethlehem Steel         6   3   0   3  12   8    6  .500
Newark Skeeters         7   0   1   6   7  30    0  .000

League standings based on won/loss percentage.  

                         2nd half

Before the half, Jersey City was added.  J & P Coates became Pawtucket.

                       GP   W   D   L  GF  GA  PTS  PCT
Fall River Marksmen    22  11   6   5  38  24   28  .636
Providence Gold Bugs   22  12   3   7  46  37   27  .614
Pawtucket Rangers      25  13   2  10  42  39   28  .560
New York Nationals     21   8   7   6  68  55   23  .548
Brooklyn Wanderers     20   5   6   9  42  50   18  .536
Philadelphia Field Club18   6   3   9  36  54   15  .450
Boston Wonder Workers  25   7   4  14  45  55   18  .417
New Bedford Whalers    14   7   1   6  37  28   15  .360
Jersey City             7   2   0   5  11  23    4  .286

CHAMPION:  Fall River.
LEWIS CUP:  New York Nationals defeated New Bedford Whalers, 2-3, 2-1, 4-2

New Bedford withdrew in mid-march to join the EPSL II.

Leading Scorers                   GP    G
Werner Nilsen (Boston)             53   43
Janos Nehadoma (Brooklyn)            48   43
Johnny Nelson (NY Nationals, Fall River, J&P Coates)   43   39
Bill Paterson (Providence)           35   33
James Leonard (NY Nationals)         50   31
Sam Kennedy (Fall River, J&P Coates) 37   23
Freddie Wall (Philadelphia)          23   22
Tec White (Fall River)               49   22
Bart McGhee (NY Nationals)           30   19
Herbert Carlson (NY Nationals)       45   18
Leslie Lyell (Brooklyn)              45   17
Billy Adair (Brooklyn)               43   16
Bert Patenaude (Fall River, Philly)  28   16
David Robertson (Brooklyn)           38   15
Jerry Best (New Bedford)             30   14
Jack Green (Providence)              37   14
Jim Purvis (Philadelphia)            29   13
Bobby Curtis (Brooklyn)              41   12
Nils Nygren (Boston)                 29   11
Mike McLeavy (New Bedford)           31   11
Pete Fitzpatrick (Providence)        43   11
Billy Gonsalves (Boston)             32   10

                 Final ASL League Standings, Fall 1929

Before the season, Brooklyn Hakoah and Bridgeport were added. Boston became the Bears.

                       GP   W   D   L  GF  GA  PTS  PCT
Fall River Marksmen    22  15   3   4  65  40   33  .750
Providence Gold Bugs   22  14   2   6  50  34   30  .682
Boston Bears           21  12   3   6  44  22   27  .643
New York Nationals     21  10   3   8  58  53   23  .548
Pawtucket Rangers      19   8   2   9  32  41   18  .474
New Bedford Whalers    21   7   2  12  38  47   16  .381
Brooklyn Wanderers     17   5   2  10  32  47   12  .353
Brooklyn Hakoah        17   4   1  12  41  55    9  .265
Philadelphia Field Club14   2   2  10  19  41    6  .214

CHAMPION:  Fall River.

Philadelphia played their first 6 games as the Bridgeport Bears.

The league suspended the season on 10/9/1929 when the soccer wars ended.
ASL merged with the EPSL II to form the Atlantic Coast League.  
Philadelphia did not join the merger.  Brooklyn Hakoah merged
with the New York Hakoah of the EPSL II to form the Hakoah All-Stars.

Leading Scorers                       GP    G
Billy Paterson (Providence)          22       27
Johnny Nelson (NY Nationals)         21       26
Bert Patenaude (Fall River)          21       25
James Leonard (NY Nationals)         18       16
Billy Gonsalves (Fall River)         22       14
Werner Nilson (Boston)               21       13
James Nahadoma (Brooklyn Wanderers/Hakoah) 18   12
Heinrich Schoenfeld (Brooklyn Hakoah)12       11
Tommy Florie (New Bedford)           21       11
Dave McEachran (Boston)              20       10
Percy Barlow (Pawtucket)             15       10

Eastern Soccer League II

The second Eastern Soccer League was launched on October 8, 1928 at the Cornish Arms Hotel in New York City, as a result of the soccer war between the American Soccer League and the United States Football Association. The league was headed by Capt. E. W. Whitwell of New York, who was named its President. Allan Cahill was the treasurer and Joe Barriskill was the Second Vice President. The nucleus of the league was three teams which had been suspended from the ASL after they defied the league and played in the US Open Cup. These were Bethlehem Steel, Newark Skeeters and the New York Giants. They were joined by a new team, New York Hakoah, formed by the former members of Vienna Hakoah who had moved to the US after their successful tour. Several other teams joined from the Southern New York Soccer Association: New York Hungaria, New York Hispano, New York Celtics, Philadelphia Centennials, and the IRT Rangers, the team of the New York Interborough Rapid Transit System. Bethlehem Steel was the strongest of the ASL teams, finishing a respectable 2nd, with 22 points. Newark Skeeters had a disappointing season, going winless in a truncated season, while the New York Giants went a middling 6-8-2. The big surprise of the season was the newly formed New York Hakoah, which took the league championship with 28 points. IRT Rangers were the best of the SNYSA teams, finishing third. New Bedford Whalers, disenchanted with the new circuit returned to the ASL after the season.

The ASL and USSF and ESL eventually made peace, and a couple days after the final ESL game on November 4, the three major clubs rejoined the ASL (Now known as the Atlantic Coast league). The ESL, on a substantially diminished basis, played through their spring 1930 season, apparently disbanding at that point.

         Final EPSL II Standings, 1928-1929

                      First Half   (as of 12/28/28)

                         GP   W   L   D   Pts.  Pct.
Bethlehem Steel          15  14   1   0    28  .933
New York Giants          18  11   5   2    24  .667
Hakoah All-Stars         18  10   4   4    24  .667
Newark Skeeters          14   3   6   5    11  .393
IRT. Rangers             15   5   9   1    11  .367
Philadelphia Centennials 14   3   7   5    10  .357
New York Hispano         14   2  10   2     6  .214
New York Celtics          8   0   6   2     2  .125

This was a 23 game season.  Bethlehem Steel went 21 wins, 2 losses
for the half.

Leading Scorers: 

Archie Stark, Bethlehem              29
Siegfried Wortman, Hakoah            26
William Shamus O'Brien, N. Y. Giants 18
Josef Eisenhoffer, Hakoah            16
Andy Stevens, N. Y. Giants           15
Max Gruenwald, Hakoah                13
Walter Jackson, Bethlehem/Phil       13
Thomas Gillespie, Bethlehem          13
Johnny Jaap, Bethlehem               12
Willie Crilley, Hispano              12
Erno Schwarz, Hakoah                 11
David Brown, N. Y. Giants            11
M. Hausler, Hakoah                   11
William Findlay, N. Y. Giants        10
W. Pearce, I. R. T. Rangers           9
Alex Massie, Bethlehem                9
"Ted" Glover, N. Y. Giants            8
James Brown, Newark                   8

                     Second Half (as of 4/29/1929; play ended 5/12)

                         GP   W   L   T  GF  GA   PTS
New York Hakoah          18  12   2   4  68  23   28
Bethlehem Steel          15   9   2   4  41  21   22
IRT Rangers              13   7   5   1  30  30   15
New York Hungaria        16   6   8   2  31  44   14
New York Giants          15   6   8   1  52  24   13
New Bedford Whalers       8   6   1   1  26  14   13
New York Hispano         16   4  11   1  36  49    9
Philadelphia Centennials 12   3   9   0  24  50    6
Newark Skeeters           9   0   7   2   9  30    2
New York Celtics    (Disbanded after two months)

CHAMPION:  Bethlehem Steel.

After the season, Philadelphia, New York Celtics and New Bedford withdrew.

Leading Scorers: (As of April 18, 1929)

Archie Stark, Bethlehem             15
Siegfried Wortmann, Hakoah          12
Josef Eisenhoffer, Hakoah           11
J. Deal, Philadelphia               11
M. Hausler, Hakoah                  10
Willie Crilley, Hispano (Hun)        9
David Brown, N. Y. Giants            8
Rudolf Kuntner, Hungaria             8
J. McGincy, I. R. T. Rangers         8
Andy Stevens, N. Y. Giants           8
George Drysdale, Hungaria            7
W. Carnegie, Hispano                 7
Thomas Florie, New Bedford           7
Willie Ballantyne, N. Y. Giants      6
Max Gruenwald, Hakoah                6
L. Grunfeld, Hakoah                  6
William Seamus O’Brien, N. Y. Giants 6
Jimmy Howieson, New Bedford          6

                                  1929 (fall)

Before the season, New York Hungaria became Victoria Hungaria.

                         GP   W   L   T  Pts  Pct.
Bethlehem Steel          14  11   2   1   23  .846
Hakoah All Stars         12   9   2   1   19  .792
New York Giants          12   8   2   2   18  .750
Newark Portuguese        12   4   4   4   12  .500
New York Hispano         10   3   5   2    8  .400
Victoria Hungaria        12   3   7   2    8  .333
Newark Skeeters           8   0   7   1    1  .063
IRT Rangers              10   0   9   1    1  .050

CHAMPION:  Bethlehem Steel.
After this fall season, ESL, ASL and USFA settled their Soccer War disputes, Bethlehem, New York Giants returned to the ASL. New York Hakoah also joined the ASL, which renamed itself the Atlantic Coast league for the 1929-30 season.

St. Louis Soccer League

Tablers repeated their league championship, while Madison Kennels took second, and Ben Millers fell to third. But Madison Kennels boasted the top scorer in Dinty Moore, who landed 13 goals for the season. Madison would go on to reach the finals of the National Challenge Cup. By this time, the St. louis league had declined from its earlier prominence, having long ago lost its top players to the American Soccwer League, but it was still the premier soccer league in the midwest.

               1928-29 SLSL final league standings

                       GP   W   L   T   GF  GA  Pts
Tablers                17   8   5   4   39   3  20
Madison Kennels        17   7   5   5   47  30  19
Ben Millers            17   5   7   5   28  41  15
Wellston’s             17   4   7   6   42  53  14

Champion:  Tablers
Municipal League Champion: South Side Radio

Leading Scorers:                G
Dinty Moore, Madison           13
Joe McCarthy, Tablers          11
E. Hart, Wellston's            10
Lou Ahrens, Wellston's         10
Eddie Flavin, Madison           9
Bud Grennon, Madison            8
Tooters Rodge, Wellston's       8
Paul Budo, Ben Millers          6
Bennie Nash, Ben Millers        5
James Cronin, Tablers           5
Al McHenry, Tablers             5
Lehman, Wellston's              5

Most Valuable Players (all from Madison Kennels)
Charles LaBarge (GK), Joe Hand (L.F.B.), Eddie Burke (C.H.B.), Joe McCarthy (C.F.)

Amateur Leagues & Cups

California Association Senior Challenge Cup: Sons of St. George
John O. Belis Perpetual Trophy: Unione Sportiva Italana Virtus
Peel Challenge Cup (Illinois): Sparta FC
National Soccer League of Chicago: Sparta FC
Rowland Cup (Maryland State): Baltimore Canton
New Jersey State Challenge Cup: Tantaqua
New York State Challenge Cup: New York Giants (ASL)
New York State Qualifying Cup: Crescent
German-American Soccer League (New York): D.F.C. Newark
Metropolitan Soccer League (New York): Clan Bruce
West Penn Challenge Cup: Heidelberg; Junior Cup: Thomas Run

The US National Team

The national team was inactive in 1929.

National Challenge Cup

New York Hakoah of the Eastern Soccer League defeated Madison Kennels of St. Louis in the two-leg final of a tournament that was played during the USFA-ASL "Soccer War" and thus included no ASL teams (other than the several who dropped out of the ASL in order to play in the cup).

The finals opened on March 21 at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis with a 2-0 Hakoah win on goals by Josef Eisenhoffer and Siegfried Wortmann. A week later at Dexter Park in Brooklyn, Hakoah completed the sweep with a 3-0 win, the goals coming from Erno Schwarz, Max Gruenwald and Moritz Haeusler.

Hakoah defeated New York Giants, 1-0, in its semifinal, while Madison Kennels advanced past Chicago Sparta, 7-4. In its quarterfinal, Hakoah had beaten Newark Portuguese, 3-2.

International Tours

Due to the USFA suspension of the ASL, touring teams were limited to playing opponents from the Eastern Soccer League.

Preston North End (English 2nd Division), May 18, 1929 - June 9, 1929. Record: 1 win, 2 draws, 1 loss

Roster: Ewart, Ward, Kerr, Nesbitt, Nelson, Crawford, Reid, Russell, Parry, Bargh, Harrison, Smith, Robson, Harrison.

5/18  New York Hakoah 1, Preston North End 1 (attendance 11,000, at Innisfail Park, NY)
5/19  New York Giants 1, Preston North End 1 (attendance 5,000 at Starlight Park, New York)
6/8   Bethlehem Steel 5, Preston North End 1 (attendance 5,000, at Innisfail Park, New York.
      Archie Stark scored three goals
6/9   Preston North End 2, Bethlehem Steel 1 (at Providence, Rhode Island)

Sabaria (Budapest, Hungary) March 16, 1929 through March 19, 1929. Record: 1 wins, 0 draws, 2 losses

Roster: Weinhardt, Nagy, Preur, Pesovnik, Vamos, Bass, Buresch, Holzhauer, Stofran, Povolny, Tarnok, Biri, Kovacs, Pesnovik, Majos, Bass, Kala, Prem, Bursch, Stofian

3/16   New York Hakoah 3, Sabaria 0 (attendance 2,500, at Starlight Park, New York)
3/17   Sabaria 6, New York Giants 4 (at Starlight Park, New York)
3/19   New York Giants 2, Sabaria 1 (attendance 3,000, at Starlight Park, New York)

Worcester, MA to England: Results: 3 wins, 0 draws, 2 losses.

         Worcester 6, Worcestershire 6 (in Worcester)
         Worcester vs. Stourbridge (in Stourbridge)
         Worcester vs. Eversham  (in Eversham)
         Worcester vs. Dudley (in Dudley)
9/18/27  Worcester 1, Kidderminster 1 (in Kidderminster)

The College Game

Intercollegiate Soccer Football Association Champion: Penn State

California Intercollegiate Soccer Conference Champion: San Mateo Junior College

College All-Americans:

G  - McCune, Penn State
RF - Johnson, Swarthmore
LF - Allen, Penn State
RH - Frazier, Haverford
CH - Robertson, Yale
LH - Shirk, Haverford
OR - Lutz, Penn State
IR - Bright, Williams
CF - Stollmeyer, Dartmouth
IL - Ashley, Yale
OL - Kullman, Pennsylvania

Other Action

1929 American Cup: In this brief revival, the final American Cup was taken by the Providence Goldbugs of the ASL, who beat the New York Nationals 2-2, 4-2.

1929 National Amateur Cup Final: Pittsburgh Hiedelberg defeated Newark First Germans 9-0.

Last update: February 4, 2006

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