Written by Steve Holroyd "(email@example.com) and David Litterer
Entering its 16th season, the ASL had accomplished what no other professional league had in America: not only remain in existence, but also remain relatively stable in the process. Although minor clubs continued to come and go, the core franchises-Brookhattan, New York Americans, Baltimore Americans, Brooklyn Hispano, Brooklyn Wanderers, Philadelphia Americans, and Philadelphia Nationals-returned year after year. Also, the league at least attempted to court a mainstream audience by toning down the ethnic nicknames: although Brooklyn Hispano continued to use their nickname, other clubs were either named "Americans" or "Nationals"; a new franchise from Trenton, New Jersey, adopted the name "Athletics".
However, cracks started to appear in the ASL foundation. Although the league continued to feature the best teams in the country (as exhibited by countless appearances in National Open Challenge Cup finals), it still never grew past the 2,000-3,000 stage in fan support. One result of this was, early in the 1948-49 season, Baltimore Americans being placed in escrow and replaced by Trenton. Champions only three years earlier, Baltimore never captured the hearts of the locals, and went under. Five of their talneted players moved on to Philadelphia Nationals, where they would make significant contributions.
More tellingly, Brooklyn Wanderers-an established franchise long considered the ASL’s physically toughest team-were in such dire financial straits that, one game into the season, the Graham family sold the club to a group called Hakoah (no relation to the famous Vienna club from which it took its name). Attempting to field an all-Jewish team, the new owners promptly dispersed all of the Wanderers players to the Brookhattan, Brooklyn Hispano, New York Americans, Kearny Celtic, and Kearny Americans clubs. After a less-than-stellar 3-10-0 finish, management decided to open enrollment and let the goyem back in for the 1949-50 season.
For all of the turmoil off the field, there was a rather colorful season on it. Kearny Celtic opened the season with a bang, but lost two early wins when one match against New York Americans was ordered replayed under protest and another win against Baltimore was voided when that club dropped out of the league. Brooklyn Hispano, buoyed by the return of caoch Duncan Othen, replaced Kearny at the top, but soon faded. By mid-October, manager Jimmy Mills’ Philadelphia Nationals-aided by the addition of the Baltimore players-went on a 13-game winning streak that moved them from the basement to first place.
Meanwhile, New York Americans, coached by Erno Schwartz lured Hall-of-Fame goalkeeper Stanley Chesney out of retirement and added 1948 MVP John O’Connell after his release from Hakoah. With O’Connell (who was moved from fullback to forward) and Jack Hynes scoring goals at a prolific rate, the A’s climbed into a three-way tie with the Nationals and Brooklyn Hispano by season’s end. Due to a three-way tie for first place, the ASL had to adopt a playoff system to determine the year’s champion. New York defeated Brooklyn in a 4-nil rout for the right to play the Nats in the final.
The final itself was one of the most exciting in league history. Paired with an international match featuring Belfast Celtic, the two clubs were tied at 3-3 before the match had to be suspended to allow the foreigners to play. At the conclusion of that match, Philadelphia and New York again took the pitch, but were unable to resolve the draw. Philadelphia Nationals were awarded the title on the margin of a single corner kick.
Philadelphia Nationals completed a "mini-double" by going undefeated through the Lewis Cup, defeating Kearny Celtic for the crown, only the third time such a "mini-double" had been completed (the other two being the 1940 Kearny Scots and 1945 Brookhattan teams). Philadelphia just missed a "triple", advancing to the National Open Challenge Cup finals before being edged by the Morgan (PA) club, 4-3.
Philadelphia’s success was even more impressive as the Nationals were a virtually all-American club. Outside of reserve Ed McIlveney, who was from Scotland, the club was entirely made up of native-born players. Among the stars on the Nationals roster were Walt Bahr, Benny McLaughlin, and Nick Kropfelder. Still, in an era when soccer was still scene as an "immigrant’s game," the Nationals success went virtually unnoticed. It would be another quarter century before another team-ironically, also from Philadelphia-would have similar success with such a heavily-native side.
John O’Connell, having made the conversion from defender to forward so succesfully, was named league MVP by the Soccer News; for the second consecutive year, Philadelphia Nats midfielder Walt Bahr was the runner-up, a mere two points behind O’Connell. Bernie McLaughlin and Tom Oliver, also of the Nats, finishd third and fourth in the voting. Pito Villanon of Brookhattan, one of the first African-American players to play in the ASL, won the league scoring title with 17 goals.
More foreign teams visited under the ASL aegis in 1949: Belfast Celtic (Northern Ireland), Newcastle United (England), Kamraterna (Sweden), Milano (Italy) and the Scottish national team staged exhibitions on these shores and were, predictably, dominant: Newcastle went 10-0, while Milano was undefeated in 6 matches. Also, for a change, an American club went overseas: New York Americans went to Cuba, tying two matches and losing one.
Finally, soccer fans could view Soccer: The Universal Game, released by Pan-American Films of Hollywood.
Final League Standings, 1948-49 Several weeks into the season, Baltimore Americans withdrew and Brooklyn Wanderers was taken over by Brooklyn Hakoah. G W T L GF GA PTS Philadelphia Nationals 16 10 2 4 57 35 22 New York Americans 16 10 2 4 33 22 22 Brooklyn Hispano 16 10 2 4 31 24 22 Brookhattan 15 7 3 5 39 35 17 Kearny Scots 14 6 3 5 36 32 15 Philadelphia Americans 15 4 4 7 29 35 12 Kearny Celtics 15 4 3 9 30 37 11 Trenton Americans 15 4 1 10 29 41 9 Brooklyn Wanderers/Hakoah 13 3 0 10 20 43 6 Baltimore Americans, with 1 win and 2 losses, withdrew; their games being declared null. Brooklyn Wanderers, after a single loss, withdrew and were replaced by Brooklyn who assumed their loss. 1st Round: New York Americans defeated Brooklyn Hispano. CHAMPIONSHIP: Philadelphia Nationals defeated New York Americans. LEADING SCORERS (Regular Season) Piro Villanon (Brookhattan) 17 Tommy Oliver (Philadelphia Nats) 16 Jack Hynes (NY Americans) 10 Benny McLaughlin (Philadelphia Nats) 10 King (Philadelphia A’s) 10 Sasso (Kearny Celtic) 9 John O’Connell (Brooklyn W’s/NY A’s) 9 Joe White (Philadelphia Nats) 9 Lewis Cup Philadelphia Nationals 3 3 0 0 14 2 6 Kearny Celtic 3 3 0 0 7 2 6 Brooklyn Hispano 3 2 1 0 7 3 5 Brookhattan 3 1 1 1 5 5 3 New York Americans 3 1 0 2 5 7 2 Philadelphia Americans 3 1 0 2 5 7 2 Brooklyn Hakoah 3 0 0 3 1 11 0 Kearny Americans 3 0 0 3 3 10 0 LEWIS CUP WINNER: Philadelphia Nationals defeated Kearny Celtic, 2-1 LEADING SCORERS (Lewis Cup) John Sullivan (Philadelphia Nats) 7 Jennette (Kearny Celtic) 4 John O’Connell (NY Americans) 3 Meca (Brooklyn Hispano) 3 Valtin (Philadelphia A’s) 3 Nick Kropfelder (Philadelphia Nats) 3 Ray McFaul (Philadelphia Nats) 3 Most valuable Player: John O'Connell, New York Americans
The 1949 season was an exciting one, with PAAC completing an undefeated season in the Major division, and Swedish Americans likewise going lossless in the First Division-South. Milwaukee Tigers brought up the lead in the First division-North. The tigers and Swedish Americans gained promotion into the Major division, replacing former NASFL standouts Chicago Maroons and Wisla.
The NSL created a bit of soccer history this year when they established the first successful indoor soccer league. The league, which would begin play in january 1950, was able to get regular weekly full coverage on local television via WBKB-TV.
Final League Standings, Major Division, 1949 GP W L T Pts PAAC 14 11 0 3 25 Sparta 19 9 3 2 20 Hansa 14 8 4 2 18 Slovaks 14 8 5 1 17 Vikings 14 7 5 2 16 Schwaben 14 2 8 4 8 Maroons 14 2 11 1 5 Wisla 14 0 11 3 3 PEEL CUP WINNER: Chicago Vikings Montgomery Most Valuable Player Goalkeeper Vote: Gino Hardassanich - Slovaks 6843 John Mennella - Maroons 5733
The GASL had an unusually exciting season this year with hard fought championships right down to the wire in both the Big Ten and Premier divisions. The torrid races resulted in markedly increased attendance. Eintracht and Newark were the heavy favorites going into the season, and played tug-of-war with the league lead for much of the season before slow-starting Elizabeth found their form and ran away with the title. Pfaelzer also earned distinction by winning the New York State Association sponsored indoor tournament held at the Brooklyn 14th Street Armory.
Elizabeth won the Big ten title for the third straight year, going on to win the National Amateur Cup, and making it to the finals of the New jersey state cup, for a triple. Strong performances were also given by New York S.C., who though they failed to advance beyond the eastern regionals of the US Open Cup, did win the New York State Cup for the third straight season. The German-Hungarian reserves also had a spectacular season, winning the Reserve Division crown and the Dr. Manning Cup trophy.
Final League Standings, Major Division, 1949 GP W L T GF GA PTS Elizabeth 18 15 1 2 74 15 32 Eintracht 18 13 1 3 56 15 30 Newark 18 10 6 2 40 37 22 New York S.C. 18 10 6 2 38 28 22 NY Hota 18 7 7 4 36 39 18 German-Hungarians 18 4 7 7 37 37 15 Brooklyn 18 6 11 1 30 38 13 Pfaelzer 18 5 10 3 42 50 13 German-Americans 18 3 11 4 30 62 10 Hoboken 18 1 17 0 17 79 2 BIG TEN CHAMPION: Elizabeth S.C. PREMIER DIVISION CHAMPION: Swiss Reserve Division Champion: German-Hungarian Reserves Premier Reserve Division: Minerva A Division Champion: Eintracht 1948-49 All-Star Game (at Randalls Island, NYC) New York 2, New Jersey 1 EASTERN DISTRICT SOCCER LEAGUE Champion: New World (15-0-1).
Final standings include two halves and the 4-game playoff series.
GP W L T GF GA PTS Schultes 22 13 4 5 57 36 31 Simpkins 22 10 6 6 57 43 26 El Reys 22 8 11 4 51 65 20 Dohles 22 3 13 6 40 50 12 Dohles changed their name from Steamfitters during 1st half.
The highlight of this year was the U.S. qualifying for the 1950 World Cuup by defeating Cuba in Mexico City. The U.S., although disappointed by third and second place finishes in the North American Confederation Cups of 1947 and 1949 respectively, qualified for the World Cup by virtue of its second round finish in the NAC of 1949. The team was managed by Bill Jeffrey of Penn State (whose 30 year record was unparalleled in collegiate soccer).
The US started 1949 with a 0-4 loss to Scotland in a disappointing friendly played on June 19 at Randalls Island, NYC. In the NAC Confederation Cup at Mexico City, the USA got off to a disappointing start, with a 0-6 loss to host Mexico on September 4, followed by a 1-1 draw with Cuba ten days later (Frank Wallace got the only goal), and a 2-6 loss to Mexico on September 18.
The final game was a convincing 5-2 victory over an over-matched Cuba at Mexico City, on September 21, 1949. The 5-2 triumph included goals by Walter Bahr, Frank Wallace, and two goals by Matevich. Jackie Hynes and Harry Keough provided strong support. At this time, just qualifying for the WC was a major triumph; little did the team know about the upset that would shock the world next year. One major source of satisfaction for the US was the fact that this team qualified despite having a team that was, except for three players, entirely composed of US citizens. The three foreigners were Captain Eddie McIlvenny, who later played for Manchester United and coached th Irish club Waterford, Larry Gaetjens, the Haitian center-forward who was to play a pivotal role to say the least in the US performance in next year's World Cup, and Joe Maca, a left-back who hailed from Belgum.
USA Roster, 1949 NAC Cup
Player Position Club Joseph Silovsky Goalkeeper Sparta F.C. (NSL, Chicago) Frank Borghi Goalkeeper Simpkins F.C. (SLSL, St. Louis) Manuel Martin Full Back Ponta Delgada F.C. (Fall River, MA) William Bello Full Back Lusitanio S.C. (Ludlow, MA) Benjamin Watman Full Back Hakoah A.C. (ASL, New York, NY) William Sheppell Half Back Seton hall University (NJ) Charles Columbo Half Back Simpkins F.C. (SLSL, St. Louis) Walter Bahr Half Back Philadelphia Nationals (ASL, Philadelphia, PA) Harry Keough Half Back Schulte F.C. (SLSL, St. Louis) Bernard McLaughlin Forward Philadelphia Nationals (ASL, Philadelphia, PA) John Souza Forward Ponta delgada F.C. (Fall River, MA) Antone Almeida Forward Ponta Delgada F.C. (Fall River, MA) Nicholas DiOrio Forward Morgan S.C. (Pa) Frank Wallace Forward Simpkins F.C. (SLSL, St. Louis, MO) Jack Hynes Forward New York Americans (ASL, New York)
During 1949, the Scottish National Team played 9 games in the USA and Canada during their international tour, compiling a record of 8 wins and 1 loss.
USA National team results, full internationals 1949 Totals: 1W, 1D, 3L Sep 21 49 W 5-2 Cuba Mexico City, Mex. (NAC/WCQ'50) Matevich (2), Souza, Wallace, Bahr Sep 18 49 L 2-6 Mexico Mexico City, Mex. (NAC/WCQ'50) Sousa, Watman Sep 14 49 D 1-1 Cuba Mexico City, Mex. (NAC/WCQ'50) Wallace Sep 04 49 L 0-6 Mexico Mexico City, Mex. (NAC/WCQ'50) Jun 19 49 L 0-4 Scotland 17,000 New York, NY, USA
Morgan-Strasser of Western Pennsylvania, a defeated finalist on two earlier occasions, captured the Open Cup by defeating Philadelphia Nationals of the ASL in the two-leg final. The defeat prevented Philadelphia Nationals from matching the feat of New York Brookhattan, which won the ASL-Lewis Cup-Open Cup triple in 1945. Philadelphia Nationals had won the ASL and Lewis Cup titles, but came up short here.
Nick Kropfelder had given Philadelphia Nationals the lead after the first leg of the final, scoring the only goal of a 1-0 game at Holmes Stadium in Philadelphia on May 15. Two weeks later, Morgan took home the cup after a 4-2 victory in Pittsburgh.
Morgan had reached the final by beating Polish-American of Chicago, 2-1 and 3-0, in the two-leg western semifinal. Philadelphia Nationals won the eastern semifinal, 5-0, from New York Sport Club. The quarterfinals were Philadelphia Nationals 2, Brooklyn Hispano 1; New York Sport Club 3, Ludlow Lusitano 1; Morgan 3, Pittsburgh Cecil French 0, and Polish-American 5, St. Louis Zenthofer Furs 1.
New York Americans: The Americans played 3 games in Cuba:
1/9 New York Americans 3, Iberia 3 (at Havana) (US goals by O'Connell, Hynes and Roberts) 1/12 New York Americans 1, Juventud Asturiana 1 (at Havana) (US goal by Roberts) 1/16 New York Americans 1, Puentes Grandes 2 (at Havana) (US goal by Eisner)
Belfast Celtic (Ireland): May 8, 1949 through June 12, 1949. Record: 6 wins, 2 losses, 2 draws.
Roster: Tom Ahearne, Patrick Bonnar, John Campbell, Charles Currie, John Denvir, Thomas Dorman, Joseph Douglas, George Hazlett, Robin Lawler, Kevin McAlinden, Billy McMillan, Alex Moore, James Murdough, Michael O'Flanagan, Reginald Simpson, Harry Walker. Manager: Elisha Scott
May 8 Belfast Celtic 2, New York Americans 2 (at Randalls Island, NYC) May 14 Belfast Celtic 5, Ulster United 0 (at Toronto, ON) May 15 Belfast celtic 3, New Jersey All-Stars 0 (at Kearny, NJ) May 18 Belfast Celtic 1, New England All-Stars 2 (at Fall River, MA) May 25 Belfast Celtic 6, Philadelphia All-Stars 4 (at Philaelphia, PA) May 29 Belfast Celtic 2, Scottish Nationals 0 (at Randalls Island, NYC) May 30 Belfast Celtic 3, Philadelphia Nationals 3 (at Randalls Island, NYC) June 1 Belfast Celtic 4, Montreal Stars 1 (at Montreal, QUE) June 5 Belfast Celtic 4, Kennedy F.F. 2 (at Detroit, MI) June 12 Belfast Celtic 0, Kamaraterna F.C. 3 (at Randalls Island, NYC)
Newcastle United (England): May 19, 1949 through June 19, 1949. Record: 10 wins, 0 losses, 0 draws.
Roster: Ronnie Batty, Frank Brennan, Robert Cowell, Benny Craig, Norman Dudgin, Jack Fairbrother, Bob Fraser, Douglas Graham, Joe Harvey (Captain), Frank Houghton, Jock Millburn, Robert Mitchell, George Robledo, Ernest Taylor, Thomas Thompson, Thomas Walker. Manager: George Martin.
5/19 Newcastle 4, Montreal 1 (Montreal, PQ) 5/24 Newcastle 7, Toronto 2 (Toronto, ON) 5/28 Newcastle 13, Saskatoon 2 (Saskatoon, SK) 6/1 Newcastle 16, Edmonton 1 (Edmonton, AB) 6/4 Newcastle 5, Vancouver 1 (Vancouver, BC) 6/5 Newcastle 11, Washington Stars 1 (Seattle, WA) 6/7 Newcastle 8, Vancouver 1 (Vancouver, BC) 6/11 Newcastle 7, Winnipeg 4 (Winnipeg, MT) 6/15 Newcastle 4, Kamraterna 0 (Toronto, ON) 6/19 Newcastle 3, Kamraterna 0 (New York, NY)
IFK Göteborg (Kamaraterna) (Sweden): June 12, 1949 through July 9, 1949. Record: 6 wins, 2 losses, 1 draw
Roster: Henry Andersson, Sven Andersson, Sven Appelgren, Holger Bengtsson, Erik Bergqvist, Leif Bjorkman, Dan Ekner, Rune Emanuelsson (Captain), Lennart Flink, Holger Hansson, Lennart Johansson, Henry Larsson, Gunnar Lindahl, Arne Nyberg, Bertil Rylander, Gosta Schmidt, Stig Sergerdahl, Sven Sjoblom. Manager: Gunnar Rydberg.
June 12 Kamraterna F.C. 3, Belfast Celtic 0 (at Randalls Island, NYC) June 15 Kamraterna F.C. 0, Newcastle united 4 (at Toronto, ON) June 19 Kamraterna F.C. 0, Newcastle United 3 (at Randalls Island, NYC) June 25 Kamraterna F.C. 3, National league Stars 1 (at Chicago, IL) July 1 Kamraterna F.C.10, Winnipeg Stars 1 (at Winnipeg, Man.) July 4 Kamraterna F.C. 5, Ohio State Stars 0 (at Cleveland, OH) July 6 Kamraterna F.C. 5, National League Stars 1 (at Toronto, ON) July 8 Kamraterna F.C. 1, New England Stars 1 (at Ludlow, MA) July 9 Kamraterna F.C. 7, NYSSFA Stars 2 (at Randalls Island, NYC)
F.C. Milano Internazionale (Italy): July 10, 1949 through July 26, 1949. Record: 6 wins, 0 losses, 0 draws.
Roster: Camillo Achilli, Amedeo Amadei, Gino Armano, Enzo Bearzot, Aldo Campatelli (Captain), Guido Campiolo, Osvaldo Fattori, Angelo Franzosi, Attilio Giovannini, Raffaele Guaita, Giovanni Invernizzi, Roberto Lerici, Benito Lorenzi, Gino Marinetti, Annibale Meazza, Istvan Nyers, Franco Pian, Pier Carlo Pozzi.
7/10 Milano 8, New York Stars 2 (Randalls island, NY) 7/14 Milano 12, Kearny-Philadelphia 4 (Newark, NJ) 7/17 Milano 5, American League Stars 0 (Randalls Island, NY) 7/19 Milano 9, Montreal Stars 3 (Montreal, PQ) 7/24 Milano 5, U. S. Stars 1 (Randalls Island, NY) 7/26 Milano 4, Philadelphia Stars 2 (Philadelphia, PA)
Scottish National Team May 25, 1949 through June 19, 1949. Record: 8 wins, 1 loss, 0 draws.
Roster: George Aitken, East Fife F.C.; Jim Brown, Hearts of Midlothian; Sammy Cox, Glasgow Rangers F.C.; Robert Evans, Glasgow Celtic F.C.; John Govan, Hibernian F.C.; William Houlistan, Quen of South F.C.; John McKenzie, Partick Thistle F.C.; Thomas Orr, Greencock Morton F.C.; William Redpath, Motherwell F.C.; Lawrence Reilly, Hibernian F.C.; Billy Steel, Derby County F.C.; William Telfer, St. Mirren F.C.; William Thornton, Glasgow Rangers F.C.; William Waddell, Glasgow Rangers F.C.; William Woodburn, Glasgow Rangers F.C.; George Young (Captain), Glasgow Rangers F.C. Trainer: Alex Dowdells (Glasgow Celtic).
5/25 Scotland 6, St. Louis Stars 0 (St. Louis, MO) 5/29 Scotland 0, Belfast Celtic 2 (Randalls Island, NY) 5/30 Scotland 4, American League Stars 1 (Randalls Island, NY) 6/6 Scotland 3, New Jersey Stars 1 (Kearny, NJ) 6/8 Scotland 2, Toronto Stars 0 (Toronto, ON) 6/9 Scotland 5, Canadian eastern Stars 2 (Montreal, PQ) 6/12 Scotland 8, Philadelphia Stars 1 (Philadelphia, PA) 6/15 Scotland 3, new England Stars 1 (Fall River, MA) 6/19 Scotland 4, U. S. National Team 0 (Randalls Island, NY)
University of Havana (Cuba) This college team played five intercollegiate games in the United States.
This year, the first college Soccer Bowl was inaugurated. This game brought together the national designated champions Penn State and the University of San Francisco both of which had compiled perfect 8-0-0 records, on New Year's Day, 1950 at St. Louis. the game was a nailbiter, with Penn State's 14-game unbeaten streak on the line. USF lead for much of the game with two Dick Baptista goals. However, with only 10 seconds remaining, the Nittany Lions tied it up with a Harry Little goal off a penalty kick. The coaches agreed to let it stand as a draw. This Bowl made cross-country soccer a reality and helped to grow the sport in the Midwest and West.
This year also marked the inauguration of the Fred Holloway selection method to determine the All-America team, and was greatly valued for its objectivity. Overall, 27 teams were represented, with 9 represented on the first team. These numbers are impressive when one realizes that only slightly over 100 varsity soccer teams existed in 1949.
This year also saw a post-season all-star match promoted by the NSCAA and ISFAA. the 1948 All-American team battled the New York state amateur squad (consisting of players from the German-American and Metropolitan leagues) to a 2-2 draw. Meanwhile, the University of Havana conducted a tour of the US, defeating Maryland State, Harvard and Rensselaer Poly, before losing to Dartmouth 2-0, and then returning with a 1-0 victory over Connecticut.
1949 College Conference Champions:
Soccer Bowl, 1950: Penn State tied San Francisco 2-2. NR Intercollegiate Soccer Football Association (ICFA): San Francisco, Penn State (tie) California Intercollegiate Soccer Conference: San Francisco New England Intercollegiate Soccer League: Amherst College Eastern Intercollegiate Soccer League: Cornell Metropolitan Intercollegiate Soccer Conference: Brooklyn Mason-Dixon Conference: Baltimore Middle Atlantic States Athletic Conference: Swarthmore
College All-American Squad, 1949:
Goal Theodore Bondi, Brockport Right Fullback James Blozie, Connecticut Left Fullback Stephen Negoesco, San Francisco Right Halfback Donald Dunbar, Amherst Center Halfback Gerald Mahrer, Brooklyn Left Halfback Donald Thompson, Brockport Outside Right Godfrey Nelson, Trinity Inside Right Harry Little, Penn State Center Forward Clement Grillo, Brooklyn Inside Left Walter Lownes, Pennsylvania Outside Left Louis Dollarton, West Chester
1949 National Amateur Cup Final: Elizabeth defeated Zenthoefer 6-1 in Astoria, NY.
National Junior Cup: Philadelphia's Lighthouse Boys Club defeated Windsor AC of St. Louis
Canadian National Champion: North Shore, Vancouver.
Last update: December 3, 2017
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