The Year in American Soccer - 1948

Written by David Litterer (

The American Soccer League

The American Soccer League began with a torrent of pennant race activity in a hectic and exciting season. Two teams hired new managers: Elmer Schroeder took the helm for the Philadelphia Americans and Jim Kelly took over for the Kearney Americans. Kelly had led the Kearney Scots to five consecutive league championships in the 1930s. A substantial number of players changed teams as the jockeying continued for supremacy in the league race. Baltimore looked to schedule more night games for its clubs after the successful experiment the previous season. A seminal event occurred early in the season when Brookhattan was sold to Eugene Diaz, a well known coffee importer and restaurateur. This was the first outright sale of a league franchise since the ASL's re-founding in 1933.

First out of the starting gate was the lowly Baltimore Soccer Club which took the lead for the first round, but this was not to last. The New York Americans surged ahead, and by the fifth week there was five way tie for second, with the Americans clinging to a 1 point lead. The close league race continued for several more weeks, with six teams clumped together within three points as they slugged it out for bragging rights. In late November, the Americans finally blinked, leading to a new three-way tie for first.

Eventually, things sorted themselves out and the race narrowed as one by one, teams faded into the middle of the pack. Brooklyn, Kearney and the Baltimore Americans remained neck and neck, but atop them were the Philadelphia Americans who gradually extended their lead as the season cruised to a finish. The Americans took the league title with Kearney Scots taking second, edging Brooklyn courtesy of goals averages. The biggest loser this year was the formerly dominant Brooklyn Hispano who crashed most emphatically to the cellar.

Philadelphia Americans took offensive honors with 60 goals, and Kearney Scots took defensive honors with a mere 27 goals against. Nick Kropfelder of the Baltimore Americans beat out Joe Gaetjens of Brookhattan and Bob Gormley of Philadelphia Americans as goal scoring champ, with 19 goals, and John O'Connell of the New York Americans won the Most Valuable Player award.

As usual, the season and Cup were followed by highly anticipated international matches including a dream match between Liverpool and Stockholm's Djurgarden FC, won by Liverpool before 20,000 fans at Ebbets Field. Later Djurgarden beat the ASL All-Stars 3-1. Brookhattan-Galicia made it to the finals of the US Open Cup before losing to Ponta Delgada of Fall River, MA.

                         Final League Standings, 1950-51


                              G    W   T   L   GF  GA  PTS
Philadelphia Americans       19   14   1   4   60  34   29
Kearny Scots                 17    9   5   3   40  27   23
Brooklyn Wanderers           17   10   3   4   39  32   23
Baltimore Americans          17    9   2   6   48  32   20
Philadelphia Nationals       18    8   3   7   40  37   19
New York Americans           17    7   3   7   35  34   17
Brookhattan-Galicia          18    6   3   9   38  43   15
Baltimore S.C.               18    6   2  10   35  47   14
Kearny Celtic                18    3   4  11   23  45   10
Brooklyn Hispano             17    1   4  12   28  55    6

LEAGUE CHAMPION:  Philadelphia Americans

                                Lewis Cup

Kearny Scots                  3   3   0   0     9   3    6
Brookhattan-Galicia           3   2   0   1     7   0    4
Baltimore Americans           3   2   0   1    10   4    4
Philadelphia Americans        3   2   0   1     6   5    4
Philadelphia Nationals        3   2   0   1     5   8    4
Brooklyn Hispano              3   1   1   1     4   4    3
Brooklyn Wanderers            3   1   0   2     4   7    2
New York Americans            3   0   1   2     3   5    1
Kearny Celtic                 3   0   1   2     4   7    1
Baltimore S.C.                3   0   0   3     0   9    0

LEWIS CUP PLAYOFF:  Kearny Scots defeated Brookhattan, 3-2, 1-1.

After the season, Baltimore SC was replaced by Trenton Americans.

LEADING SCORERS: (stats for all except Kropfelder are as of 
Feb. 28, 1948, with five rounds remaining)

Nick Kropfelder, Baltimore A's   19
Joe Gaetjens, Brookhattan        14
Bob Gormley, Philadelphia A's    13
Fabri Salcedo, Philadelphia A's  12
Jackie Hynes, New York A's       12
R. Roberts, Brooklyn Wanderers   10
J. White, Philadelphia Nats      10
Sol Eisner, New York A's          8
Archie Sheppell, Kearney Scots    8
Juke Nanoski, Philadelphia A's    8

Most Valuable Player: John O'Connell, New York Americans

National Soccer League (Chicago)

By 1948, the National Soccer League of Chicago was boasting the largest organization of any amateur league in the United States, with 42 teams in its five senior divisions, twelve teams in its junior division and 5 in its juvenile division. Teams were represented from Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana and Illinois. In the Major Division, the Vikings (late of the ill-fated North American Soccer Football League) won a close race, finishing two points ahead of PAAC. Sparta was right behind then, with Hansa and Schwaben leading the middle of the list. Hakoah Center and Nexaca brought up the rear and were related for 1949. Sparta took the Peter Peel Challenge Cup, to become Illinois State champions.

          Final League Standings, Major Division, 1948

                  GP   W   L   T  GF  GA  Pts
Vikings           16  11   3   2  41  18  24
PAAC              16  11   3   2  39  16  24
Sparta            16  10   4   2  38  21  22
Hansa             16   7   5   4  34  28  18
Schwaben          16   8   7   1  25  27  17
Slovaks           16   3   7   6  24  30  12
Swedish-Americans 16   4   9   3  24  40  11
Hakoah Center     16   2  10   4  21  40   8
Nexaca            16   3  11   2  18  44   8


German-American Soccer League (New York)

The 1947-48 season marked the 25th anniversary for the German-American League. By this time the league had become one of the two strongest amateur leagues in the country, and was engaged in a strenuous rivalry with the National Soccer League of Chicago for amateur supremacy. This year, attendance rose about 25 percent, with the annual field day at Randalls Island (then known as Triborough Stadium) drawing 12,000 fans for the festivities. The teams were strong enough financially that Eintracht and German-American S. C. were able to purchase and renovate their own fields.

The league races in the top two divisions were very tight, both going right to the wire. Elizabeth S. C. won the newly-renamed Big Ten Division, beating German-Hungarian by 6 points. Elizabeth actually led the standings for the entire season, but German-Hungarian and Eintracht were hot on their heels until the final weeks. Kollsman finished last and was demoted to the Premier Division. In the Premier Division, College Point took the early lead, but were soon bested by German-Hungarian A. C., who held onto the lead for the duration, earning a promotion to the Big Ten. College Point held on to second, with Minerva and Swiss providing the best competition, although they had to settle for third and fourth places. German-American A. C. Reserves also took the title in the Premier Reserve division, while New York S. C. took the Big Ten Reserve and A Division reserve titles.

New York S. C., while only finishing 5th in the Big Ten, cruised to the title match of the New York State Challenge Cup, defeating Hakoah A. C. of the National League for their 2nd straight state title. Eintracht went to the finals of the US Open Cup before falling to Ponta Delgada of Fall River, MA in the title series. Elizabeth S. C. also made a great run in the US Open Cup, winning five straight series, including sets against Kearney Celtic, Brooklyn Hispano and Kearney Americans of the American Soccer League. Their run ended when they fell to Ponta Delgada in the Eastern semifinals.

       Final League Standings, Major Division, 1947-48

                Big Ten (Major) Division 

                       GP   W  L  T  GF  GA PTS
Elizabeth S. C.        17  14  1  2  63  14  30
German-Hungarian S. C. 18  11  5  2  37  21  24
Eintracht              17   9  4  4  40  18  22
Hoboken                18   8  7  3  26  34  19
New York S. C.         16   6  5  5  24  21  17
Hota                   18   7  8  3  28  36  17
Newark                 17   6  8  3  33  27  15
Brooklyn               17   4  9  4  24  41  12
Pfaelzer               18   3  9  6  28  48  12
Kollsman               18   2 14  2  17  59   6

Major Reserve Division Champion:  New York S. C.
Premier Reserve Division Champion:  German-American A. C.
A Division Champion:  New York S. C.

St. Louis Major Soccer League

Semi-pro soccer returned to St. Louis for the first time since 1939 with the advent of the St. Louis Major Soccer League, organized by Sylvester Rafferty, Ed Murphy, and Woody Selby. Rafferty, who for years had sponsored a team bearing his name, was appointed the League's first commissioner. The Steamfitters received a release from the Municipal League to join the new circuit, with the understanding that the Major League would help fill vacancies in the Muny circuit. Another founding team was the St. Louis Raiders, formerly of the ill-fated North American Soccer Football league. Rounding out the league were Simpkins-Ford (formerly the Correntis) and De Andreis Council.

The league played a 12-game schedule, with ticket prices set at 60 cents for men, 40 cents for women, and children 16 and under were free. All league games for this winter schedule were played at Sportsman's Park, home of the baseball Browns and Cardinals. De Andreis won the league race with a comfortable 6 point margin, finishing with 17 points. The Raiders and Simpkins finished tied for second with 11 points, with Steamfitters bringing up the rear.

The Major League had a very successful and profitable first year, drawing large crowds, and luring over a number of the top Municipal League players. Clearly, the appetite for big-scale soccer had not gone away, and the league's return was welcomed by the city. The Municipal League however, suffered a heavy blow from the competition. The Muny league, which boasted 126 teams and 2,720 players among its several divisions, lost $3,500 for the season, a large sum in this day for an amateur circuit. Sylvester Goddard, the League's delegate to the Muny Central Council stated that the League tried everything except giving away dishes to attract fans, but the competition of the Major League and the many other soccer activities in the metropolitan area made it difficult for the them to keep a high profile.

                     St. Louis Major League Standings, 1947-48

                  GP  W  L  T  GF  GA PTS
De Andreis        12  7  2  3  17  16  17
St. Louis Raiders 12  5  6  1  16  19  11
Simpkins          12  4  5  3  23  16  11
Steamfitters      12  3  6  3  16  21   9


Leading Goalscorers:
William Welsh, De Andreis    7
Bill Bertani, Simpkins       7
Frank Wallace, Steamfitters  5
Ed Marsek, Steamfitters      5
Bob Fuchs, De Andreis        4
Amelio Muniz, Raiders        4
Ollie Bohlman, Raiders       4
Harold Gunning, Steamfitters 4


Other Amateur League and Cup Champions

New York State Challenge Cup: New York S. C. defeated Hakoah A. C.
Dr. Manning Challenge Cup: Schwaben F. C. defeated Gjoa B. S. C.
New York State Junior Challenge Cup: Kollsman F. C. defeated Gjoa S. C.
New York State Association Inter-League Championship: Eastern District League defeated Metropolitan League 1-0.
National Soccer League of New York: Segura F. C. (14-3-2-54-19-30)
Eastern District League (NY): New World (14-2-2-81-19-30 - Premier Division); Caribbean F. C. (15-0-1-74-12-31 - First Division)
Metropolitan League: Staten Island Favorites S. C. (15-2-1-46-14-31 - Premier Division); Prague A.F.C. "B" (11-2-1-38-15-23 - First Division); Metropolitan Challenge Cup: Gjoa S.C. "B"
New Jersey State Challenge Cup: Newark
National Soccer League of New Jersey: Harrison S. C. (12-0-2-22)
New York Central League: Bigelow-Sanford (9-1-0-18)
National Soccer League of New England: Ponta Delgada (10-0-1-21)
Fall River League: Young Nationals (10-1-3-23)
Rhode Island Inter-City League: Portuguese S.C. (10-1-1-21)
Boston & District League: Peabody (13-2-2-28)
Stewart Cup (MD State Amateur): C. K. Enterprises
Rowland Cup (MD Open Cup): Parkville
Greater Baltimore Soccer League: C. K. Enterprises defeated Morstein in playoff (Baltimore Division); Parkville defeated DeBlooms in playoff (Chesapeake Division).
Washington & Suburban League: Sugar Radio (5-1-1-11) won league playoff.
Maryland and Washington County Association Cup: Sugar Radio
Washington County League: Wenster-Harrison (10-0-0-20)
Eastern Shore League (MD): Ridgley (9-0-1-19)
Palmer Memorial Cup (Eastern PA): 33rd Ward Democrat S. C. defeated American Reserves
Philadelphia Soccer League: 33rd Ward Democrats (14-3-1-29)
Keystone League (Western PA): Curry Vets (7-0-4-18)
Panhandle League (Western Penn): Moon Run (11-2-1-23)
Washington County League (Western PA): Mollenauer (15-1-2-32 - Section 1); Dunlevy (17-0-1-35 - Section 2)
Westmoreland County League (Western PA): Gratztown (14-2-1-29)
Allegheny Valley League (Western PA): Harmarville (19-1-2-40)
West Penn Challenge Cup: Curry Mets
Detroit Soccer League: Sport Club 1923-A (11-0-2-24)
Peter J. Peel Cup (Illinois State Championship: Sparta
Wisconsin State Championship: Richard Rich Tigers
Milwaukee Municipal League: Richard Rich Tigers
Dallas Soccer League: Alpine Sports Wear (won both halves - 8-0-3-16)
Oregon Soccer League: Pacific Department Store (19-1-0-38)
California Association Senior Challenge Cup: Maygars (Los Angeles)
John O. Bellis Perpetual Trophy: Mercury

The US National Team

The first big task facing the National team was getting prepared for the 1948 Olympics in London. The USSFA had initially planned to hold a series of tryout exhibition games across the country involving as many as 5,000 players. The core of the team had already been selected based on 1947 international matches against Cuba and Mexico. Many of these players came from Ponta Delgada and various Pennsylvania teams. The tryout games, also intended as fund-raisers were a disaster because of adverse weather with reduced spectators and forced numerous postponements. The Olympic Soccer Committee was forced to try and raise most of the $14,000 in expenses on its own. The NCAA Olympic Finance Committee had only allocated $625 (versus $12,000 for rowing), and another $2,000 was received from the ASL.

After the team had been assembled, a match was planned between the Olympic Squad and a combined New York Americans and Brookhattan side, but the game was cancelled because of a downpour, and the team left for England without having practiced together. They did some conditioning exercises on the boat, and did the best they could with friendlies in England, drawing with Luxembourg, beating Korea and the Royal Air Force and losing to China.

Unfortunately for the Americans, they again had an unlucky break in the draw. The US drew Portugal, who later withdrew, pitting the US against Italy. The strong Italian team consisted of experienced players from the 1st and 2nd divisions, who were able to retain amateur status by being declared as "students".

In this era it was one loss and you're out. Under the rainy field conditions on August 2, 1948, the US fell behind 2-0 in the first half, but collapsed in the second half when John Souza , their best player, suffered a serious injury, forcing the Americans to finish shorthanded. Italy promptly scored two more goals, followed by five in the last five minutes, winning 9-0. Thus ended the US 1948 Olympic run.

Before returning home, the US team played exhibitions against Norway and Northern Ireland losing 11-0 and 5-0 respectively. These were their only full internationals of the year. Although these losses were frustrating, the last two games were against professionals, and the Olympic match included many quasi-professionals. The Americans were never able to train enough to match legs against the world's best pros. Later, in October, the US played three home exhibitions against the Israeli national team. The first game was played before 25,000 fans at the Polo Grounds, with the US winning 3-1. Three days later, on October 17, at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, the US again beat Israel, this time shutting them out 4-0 before 30,000 fans. This juggernaut continued when the US returned to New York, as they defeated Israel again 3-2 in Ebbets Field, despite missing some players who were playing in the final of the US Open Cup between Simpkins and Brookhattan-Galicia.

                 1948 National Team Results:

    1948 Totals:  2W,  0D,  3L
Oct 17 48  W 3-2  Israel             25,000 +Brooklyn, NY, USA
               Sousa, Valtin, Sullivan, White
Oct 14 48  W 4-1  Israel             30,000 +Philadelphia, PA, USA
               Gormley, Watman (2)
Sep 26 48  W 3-1  Israel                    +East Rutherford, NJ, USA
Aug 11 48  L 0-5  N. Ireland         14,000  Belfast, N. Ireland
Aug 06 48  L 0-11 Norway             25,000  Oslo, Norway
Aug 02 48  L 0-9  Italy                     +London, England (OLY'48)

International Tours

Liverpool of England: May 16, 1948 through June 20, 1948. results: 11 wins, 0 draws, 0 losses.

Roster: Jack Balmer, Kenneth Brierly, William Fagan, James Harley, Laurie Hughes, William Jones, Raymond Lamber, William Liddell, Robert Paisley, Stanley Polk, Robert Priday, Cyril Sidlow, Erwin Spicer, Albert Stubbins, Phil Taylor. Manager: George Kay.

5/16/48  Liverpool 5, New York Stars 1 (at New York City)
5/20/48  Liverpool 9, Baltimore Stars 2 (at Baltimore)
5/23/48  Liverpool 5, Philadelphia Stars 2 (at Philadelphia)
5/26/48  Liverpool 6, Fall River Stars 0 (at Fall River)
5/30/48  Liverpool 9, American League Stars 2 (at New York City)
6/1/48   Liverpool 4, St. Louis Stars 2 (at St. Louis)
6/3/48   Liverpool 4, Montreal Stars 2 (at Montreal)
6/9/48   Liverpool 5, New York Stars 2 (at Brooklyn)
6/15/48  Liverpool 5, Ulster United 1 (at Toronto)
6/18/48  Liverpool 3, Djurgarden F. SC. (Sweden) 2 (at Brooklyn)
6/20/48  Liverpool 8, New jersey Stars 0 (at Newark)

Djurgarden F. C. of Stockholm, Sweden: June 18, 1948 through July 8, 1948. results: 5 wins, 0 draws, 1 loss.

Roster: Carl Andersson, Hans Andersson, Stig Andersson, Arne Blomkvist, Stig Carlsson, Nils Cederborg, Sture Larsson, Bert Meijer, Ove Nilsson, Stig Nystrom, Ake Pettersson, Gunnar Persson, Bjarne Redestad, Hans Stellus, Birger Stenman, Carl Tornborg. Manager: Birger Sandberg.

6/18/48  Djurgarden 2, Liverpool 3 (at Brooklyn)
6/26/48  Djurgarden 8, National League Stars 0 (at Chicago)
6/28/48  Djurgarden 6, St. Louis Stars 1 (at St. Louis)
7/3/48   Djurgarden 7, Greenbacks F. C. 0 (at Toronto)
7/5/48   Djurgarden 10, New England Stars 3 (at Worcester)
7/8/48   Djurgarden 3, American League Stars 1 (at Brooklyn)

Slovan Bratislava of Czechoslovakia: September 1, 1948. Result: 1 win, 0 losses, 0 draws.

Chicago: Joe Silovsky - John Matthews, Walter Schroeder - Archie Stokes, Dave Rarity, Rafael Mejia - Ted Cieplinski, Adam Wolanin, Gil Heron, Pete Matevich, Aron Egan. (Subs: Jerry Rezek, Edward Schubert, Larry Schoenthal, Robert Larsen, Anon Fillicaro, Lennart Naslund)

Bratislava: Reiman - Venglar, Ruzovic - Vican, Pokorny - Danka, Malatinsky, Simansky, Schubert, Preis. (Subs: Uran, Hindulak, Kaimi, Pazicky, Karel, Hubek.)

9/1/48  Bratislava  6  Chicago Stars  1 (Rezek) (at Comiskey Park, Chicago)
Scorers: Chicago - Schubert 3, Malatinsky, Simansky, Preis; Bratislava - Rezek
This game followed Bratislava's 7-game tour of Mexico.

Atlante of Mexico City: August 15, 1048 through September 6, 1948. Play 6, Won 6.

Roster:Salvador Arizmendi, Horacio Cazarin, Ricardo Escandon, Enrique Estevez, Guillermo Gonzales, Joe Gutierrez, Alberto Medina, C. Mendosa, Jaime Mesa, Salvador Mota, Julio Munlock, Mateo Nicolau, Miguel Noguera, Roberto Noriega, Raul Ochoa, A. Orgel, Antonio Ramos, Miguel Segura, Martin Vantolra. Federico Villavincencio. Manager: Louis Gorss.

8/15/48  Atlante 5, San Francisco All-Stars 1 (at San Francisco)
8/22/48  Atlante 5, San Francisco All-Stars 3 (at San Francisco)
8/28/48  Atlante 8, Mexico A.C. 1 (at San Francisco)
8/29/48  Atlante 8, Los Angeles Scots 3 (at Los Angeles)
9/5/48   Atlante 7, Los Angeles Magyars 2 (at Los Angeles)
9/6/48   Atlante 8, Pan American 2 (at Hollywood)
Goals 41, against 12 

The College Game

1948 College Conference Champions:

Intercollegiate Soccer Football Association (ISFA): Connecticut

California Intercollegiate Soccer Conference: San Francisco
Eastern Intercollegiate Soccer League:  Cornell
Mason-Dixon Conference: Loyola
Middle Atlantic States Athletic Conference: Bucknell
New England Intercollegiate Soccer League: Connecticut

College All-American Squad, 1948:

Goal               Bondi, Brockport
Right Fullback     Moultinho, Springfield
Left Fullback      Lambert, Temple
Right Halfback     Brown, Cortland
Center Halfback    Hosterman, Penn State
Left Halfback      Lucine, Haverford
Outside Right      Fetteroff, Connecticut
Inside Right       Berman, Cornell
Center Forward     Stolzfus, Amherst
Inside Left        Belt, Maryland
Outside Left       Baldwin, Connecticut

Other Results

1948 US Open Cup Final: Note: The National Challenge Cup was renamed the U. S. Open Cup this year. St. Louis Simpkins-Ford defeated New York Brookhattan-Galicia (ASL II) 3-2 on October 17.

1948 National Amateur Cup Final: Fall River Ponta Delgada defeated Pittsburgh Curry Vets 4-1.

National Junior Challenge Cup: Lighthouse Boys Club, Philadelphia.

Canadian National Champion: Montreal Carsteel defeated Vancouver St. Andrew's in Toronto to win the Canadian Challenge Cup.

Last update: May 30, 2008

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