The Year in American Soccer - 1953

Written by David Litterer (

The American Soccer League

Philadelphia continued to dominate the league's Metropolitan Division this season. Bringing in the same lineup of squads from last season, the league race soon narrowed to a long running dogfight between the Philly Nationals and Americans, who fought neck and neck for much of the season. Newark Portuguese made a late run, but it was too little, too late. However, they did finish on top of a tight three-way fight for second place, edging out the Americans and Brooklyn Hispano. The Philadelphia Nationals went on to win the regular season title, their 3rd in 4 years, but Newark finished atop the Lewis Cup table and defeated the Nationals in the playoff match.

The New York teams moved to Yankee Stadium for their first five weeks, as part of a promotional effort to raise the league's profile, which delayed the start of the season until October. The weather was fine, but the crowds were small in the grand stadium, despite a well publicized TV hookup. New York Americans and Brooklyn Hakoah showed little improvement over their previous season, and the Kearney Scots collapsed this year, barely finishing out the season. Facing financial challenges, the venerable club withdrew from the league. Many people mourned the demise of this venerable club, which had won many honors during their 50+ year history. Happily, the club itself still exists to this day, fielding recreational and youth soccer teams at various levels.

Pito Vilanon of Brookhattan won the top goalscorer award, but there is no record of an MVP being selected. The ASL was well represented in the U. S. Open Cup this year, with the Philadelphia Nationals and New York Americans making their runs. Both teams fell to Harmarville of Pittsburgh, with the Americans falling decisively in an exciting Eastern final match-up. As usual, there was an impressive group of international teams lined up to match boots against the ASL's best and each other, including Liverpool, D'Sportiva Cali, Young Boys Club of Berne, Switzerland, and finally, an international friendly between England and the United States, a rematch of the memorable U. S. triumph at the 1950 World Cup. (see results below under "international tours" and "National Team".) The New England Division saw a tight race for much of the season, with Ponta Delgada of Fall River narrowly beating out Ludlow Lusitanio for the league title before going on to win the National Amateur Cup for the fifth time in the past eight seasons. The New England division folded after the season, with clubs returning to their local amateur leagues.

                         Final League Standings, 1952-53

                              Metropolitan Division

Philadelphia Nationals       14   10   2   2   34  17   22
Newark Portuguese            14    7   3   4   33  27   17
Philadelphia Americans       14    6   4   4   22  18   16
Brooklyn Hispano             14    6   3   5   30  32   15
Brookhattan                  14    6   1   7   13  19   13
New York Americans           12    3   3   6   19  19    9
Kearny Scots                 12    2   4   6   20  32    8
Brooklyn Hakoah              12    3   0   9   14  23    6

LEAGUE CHAMPION:  Philadelphia Nationals

                                 Lewis Cup

Newark Portuguese             4    4   0   0             8
Philadelphia Nationals        4    3   0   1             6
Brookhattan                   4    2   0   2             4
Philadelphia Americans        4    2   0   2             4
New York Americans            4    2   0   2             4
Brooklyn Hispano              4    1   0   2             3
New York Hakoah               4    1   1   2             3
Kearny Scots                  4    0   0   4             0

PLAYOFF:  Newark defeated Philadelphia Nationals 3-0, 1-3.

After the season, Kearny Scots withdrew.

LEADING SCORERS (as of 3/1/53) 

Pito Vilanon, Brookhattan       12
Pete McNabb, Hispano            10
Jack Calder, Newark Portuguese   8
Bill Drake, Newark Portuguese    8
Henry Quigley, N. Y. Americans   7
Bob Gormley, Phila. Americans    7

Most Valuable Player: {None selected}
Leading goalscorer: Pito Vilanon, New York Brookhattan

                             New England Division

                         GP   W   T   L   PTS
Ponta Delgada            10   8   2   0   16
Ludlow Lusitano          10   6   1   3   15
Attleboro Port-American  10   6   3   1   13
Fall River S.C.          14   2   8   4    8
Lusitania Recreation     14   2   8   4    8
St. Michaela             14   2   8   4    8

National Soccer League (Chicago)

An outstanding surge by a formerly struggling team, and a tight race highlighted the 1953 Major Division season. The Lions, who had avoided demotion last year courtesy of a playoff tilt, surged to win the title in a close race. Coming in second was the surprising Falcons squad who had just been promoted from the First Division. The other promoted team, the Milwaukee Brewers did not fare as well, going 2-11-1 and being sent right back down. Rangers beat out Schwaben to take the First Division title, with both clubs being promoted to the Major Division. Fortuna took the second division, and Falcons went on to win the Illinois State Peel Cup.

The Indoor season was a great success, breaking all attendance records, with two games broadcast each Sunday over WGN-TV, with sportscaster Jack Brickhouse calling the action. A March 1 contest drew 2,500 fans, the best gate yet. The Falcons won the Major Division title, followed by Hansa, with the Rams taking the First Division title. After the season, a short series of games, the Inter-City competition, pitted several NSL teams against teams from Milwaukee, St. Louis, Toledo and Detroit.

          Final League Standings, Major Division, 1953

                   GP   W   L   T  Pts
Lions              14  11   2   1   23
Falcons            14  10   3   1   21
Eagles             14   8   4   2   18
Slovaks            14   7   6   1   15
Hansa              14   6   7   1   13
Nexaca             14   5   6   3   13
Milwaukee Brewers  14   2  11   1    5
Sparta             14   2  12   0    4

PEEL CUP WINNER:  Falcons defeated Nexaca 3-2

German-American Soccer League (New York)

The GASL continued to flourish in 1952-53, with the favored German-Hungarian FC only managing 3rd place in a race they were expected to win easily. But the race was close, only being decided in the final week. Elizabeth S. C. needed a late season 6-1 thrashing of Swiss F. C. to pull away from them to take the title by a single point. George Athinoes of Eintracht was the league's top scorer, with 35 goals for the season.

The New York Hungarians won the Premier Division title, earning promotion to the Major Division. Eintracht could only manage 4th place in the Majors, but went on to win the New York State Cup. German-Hungarians, Swiss, Eintracht and Elizabeth made good runs into the later rounds of the U. S. Open Cup. The Swiss F. C. Reserves won the Dr. Manning State Cup. The League's promotion of the tour of Germany's FC Nuernberg was so successful that the police were forced to close Randalls Island (Now known as Triborough Stadium) when it was filled to its 25,000 capacity with 5,000 more fans waiting to get in to see Nuernberg match legs against Liverpool. The League was doing well enough that it was able to install new lighting at Eintracht Oval and establish a news bureau to keep the newspapers and radio stations apprised of the weekly results.

       Final League Standings, Major Division, 1953

                     GP   W  L  T  PTS
Elizabeth            22  18  3  1   37
Swiss                22  17  3  2   36
German-Hungarians    22  16  4  2   34
Eintracht            22  14  4  4   32
Brooklyn             22  13  8  1   27
Newark               22   9 10  3   21
New York             22   6  8  8   20
Hoboken              22   6 11  5   17
Greek American       22   6 12  4   16
Lithuanian           24   7 15  2   16
Minerva              22   3 17  2    8
Hota                 22   0 22  0    0

Major Reserve Division Champion:  New York
Premier Reserve Division:  Schwaben
B Division Champion:  Eintracht
Westchester Division:  Calabria
Illinois State Peel Cup:  Falcons

St. Louis Major Soccer League

The St. Louis Raiders changed their name, becoming St. Louis Kutis, but they continued their winning ways, winning the Major League title as well as the Missouri State Cup. Kutis entered into the Western competition for the U. S. Open Cup against the Chicago Falcons, winning the first leg by a decisive 3-0 score. At that time, the New York State Association protested to the USSFA alleging improper player registrations, which resulted in the nullification of the result and the ordering of two more contests. The first game was a 0-0 draw, with the Falcons taking the second by 2-1.

The Major League revived the post-season round-robin and Simpkins permanently retired the Bockwinkel Trophy by beating Kutis 3-1 in the series final. The American League of St. Louis failed to get organized this year. In the Municipal League, the Pastures took the Senior Division title in a close race, narrowly beating out Carondelet by 2 points. The Catholic Youth Council boasted the largest soccer organization in the country, with over 3,000 youth playing on 151 teams in seven different age brackets. Finally, Kutis #2 won the Muny Championship by defeating Carondelet 2-1 and 2-1 in a double-elimination tournament.

                     St. Louis Major League standings, 1953

                 GP   W   L   T   GF  GA PTS
Kutis No. 1      16  12   1   3   43  14  27
Grapetters       16   8   6   2   30  37  18
Simpkins         16   6   8   2   29  25  14
Brehenys         16   2  13   1   25  51   5

Municipal League: Senior Division:  Pastures
Municipal League Championship:  Kutis #2

Amateur League and Cup Champions

Massachusetts State Championship: Worcester Scandinavians
Boston & District League: Peabody C. L. C. (13-0-1-27) (Regular season; Worcester Scandinavians (playoffs). Curley Cup: Worcester Scandinavians
New Bedford City League: South End Motors
National Soccer League of Baltimore: Pompei
Rowland State Cup (MD): Parkville
New Jersey State League: Maritime (17-0-5-39)
New Jersey State Challenge Cup: Newark
New York Senior State Challenge Cup: Eintracht defeated Swiss 5-4.
Dr. Manning Challenge Cup: Swiss Reserves defeated New York reserves 2-1.
Junior New York State Challenge Cup: Eintracht defeated Minerva 4-2.
Eastern District League: New World
Long Island League: Great Neck
Metropolitan League (NYC): Brooklyn Italian (Premier Div.; 19-1-2-40); Chilieno (First Division; 9-3-2-20); Challenge Cup: Malta UN
National Soccer League of New York: Ukrainian Americans (11-2-5-27 - also won Challenge Cup)
Philadelphia Soccer League: Bethlehem (9-2-0-18--First Half); Trenton (6-0-3-15--Second Half); Bethlehem won playoff.
Palmer Cup (Eastern Penn): Bethlehem
Old Timers' Association Cup (Eastern Penn): Extension
Western Penn Challenge Cup: Harmarville
Keystone League (Western PA): Harmarville (12-0-1-25)
Washington County League: Dunlevy (14-0-0-28)
American Soccer League of Cleveland: St. Stephens (13-2-1-27)
Ohio State Cup: St. Stephens defeated Hungarian B. M. C. 2-1, 1-2, 2-1.
Peter J. Peel Cup (Illinois State Championship: Falcons
Dallas Soccer League: Ralph J. Mulhauser S. C.
Texas State Championship: San Antonio Busy Bee #1
Texas International League: Texas A&M University
San Antonio Association: Busy Bee #1 (6-1-3-15)
Colorado State Association League:School of Mines (first Half); Denver Turners (second half) Playoff was a 2-2 tie, both teams declared co-champions.
San Francisco League: (First Division Major:) Vikings (11-1-2-24); (First Division Alliance:); Mexico A. C. (7-0-1-15); (Second Division North:) Windbreak (15-1-0-30); (Second Division South:) Greek-Americans (12-3-2-26)
Salt Lake City League: Hollandia A (Spring, 1953)
California Association Senior Challenge Cup: Vikings
John O. Bellis Perpetual Trophy: Vikings
Derk Zylker Trophy (CA-UT): Germania A. C. of Salt Lake City
Greater Los Angeles League: Canvasbacks (First Division; 10-3-2-22); Vikings (second division; 15-1-0-30)
Puget Sound Power & Light Trophy (Washington State Championship: Green Lake Bowl

The US National Team

The US National Team only played one international match in 1953, but it was a big one - a rematch against England, whom the Americans had stunned in a World Cup 1950 upset. The Match was held on June 8, 1953 at Yankee Stadium in New York. As usual, the incompetence of the game's organization represented another blown opportunity to publicize soccer in the United States. The National team included five World Cup '50 vets, but once again the team was put together at the last minute, with no opportunity for practice. Some of the New York-based players met for the first time at the locker room before the game.

The match was postponed by 1 day because of a light rain the night before. The groundskeeper ruled that there was too much danger of damage to the field. This despite the fact that a Giants-Cubs doubleheader took place as scheduled at the Polo Grounds right across the river. The English, who would have played in anything less than a hurricane were astounded at the low priority soccer received in the States.

The players took to the field before 7,271 fans, the fewest ever to witness an English team international. On the US side, the players were accompanied by a string of USSF officials, but were not accompanied by a potentially important person -- a coach. The hapless Americans did the best they could, holding off the English until the final minutes of the first half. They scored again twice in the early second half, and then the US rallied with three. England finally scored two more to put the game away 6-3.

Later in 1953, the US began to organize a squad for the 1954 World Cup qualifications. The initial squad included several players who were not yet US Citizens, and Mexico complained to FIFA, which disallowed the non-citizens. The US then disbanded the team and held tryouts for a new squad in November. The new squad also ended up with some non-citizens, forcing some player changes. Then the US decided that for "climatic" reasons, both games of the qualifier against Mexico should be held in January of 1954, thus finishing the team's activities for the year.

                   1953 National team results

    1953 Totals:  0W,  0D,  1L
Jun 08 53  L 3-6  England             7,271  New York, NY, USA 
               Decker (2), Atheneos

U. S. Open Cup

This year, 105 teams were entered into the US Open Cup competition, an increase of 14 from last year. For the first time, the Cup was a true coast-to-coast competition with eight Los Angeles-based teams joining the fray. This led to the Western Pennsylvania-based teams being moved to the Eastern Division. Chicago Falcons, in their first year of Open Cup competition, defeated Harmarville Hurricanes of Pittsburgh region in two straight to take the cup. The first game, at Chicago on April 19 was a 2-0 shutout, followed a week later by a 1-0 shutout at Harmarville.

The Western final had been delayed by a protest after it was discovered that St. Louis Kutis used two unregistered player in their 3-0 victory over the Falcons in the Western final opener. The result was ruled void, and replayed to a 0-0 draw in Chicago. The next week, in St. Louis, Falcons advanced to the Grand Final with a 2-1 victory. The Eastern final went more smoothly, with Harmarville shutting out the New York Americans 1-0 and 2-0.

The Falcons had made their way to the divisional finals by ousting Schwaben of Chicago 4-2, Milwaukee Brewers 6-4, Slovaks of Chicago 3-0 and Toledo Turners 6-2. In the west, Harmarville had beaten Castle Shannon 2-1, Leslie Park 2-1, Lackawanna Hispano 3-0, Morgan-Strasser 2-1, German-Hungarian 1-1 and 5-1, and the Philadelphia Nationals 3-1.

International Tours

Nuernberg F. C. of Germany: May 10 1953 through May 26, 1953. Record: 5 wins, 0 draws, 1 loss.

Roster: Gunther Baumann, Gerhard Bergner, Guenther Uoessel, Guenther Glomb, Helmut Herbolsheimer, Adolf Kallenborn, Fritz Kapp, Konrad Kraft, Alfred Mirsberger, Max Morlock, Edward Schaffer, Gustav Schober, Kurt Ueko, Werner Vetter, Konrad Winterstein, Walter Zeitler. Coach and Trainer: Anton Kugler.

5/10/53  Nuernberg 9, German-American League Stars 1 (at Randalls Island, NYC)
5/14/53  Nuernberg 5, Brock-Harmarville 1 (at Buffalo)
5/17/53  Nuernberg 12, Milwaukee Stars 1 (at Milwaukee)
5/20/53  Nuernberg 8, German-Hungarian-Eintracht 3 (at Astoria, New York)
5/24/53  Nuernberg 3, Liverpool 4 (at Randalls Island, NYC, att: 25,000)
5/26/04  Nuernberg 9, Brooklyn S. C. 1 (at Brooklyn)

Northern Ireland All-Stars: May 14, 1953 through June 16, 1953. Record: 6 wins, 0 draws, 4 losses.

Roster: Gerry Bowler, Tom Casey, Eddie Crossman, Jim D'Arcy, Ray Ferris, Len Graham, Sam Hughes, Norman Lockhart, Jim McCabe, Frank McCourt, Alfred McMichael, Eddie McMorran, Billy Neill, Jack Scott, Bruce Shiells, Norman Uprichard. Trainer: Gerry Morgan.

5/14/53  Irish All-Stars 0, Liverpool F. C. 4 (at Brooklyn)
5/18/53  Irish All-Stars 4, Hamilton All-Stars (at Hamilton, ON)
5/20/53  Irish All-Stars 2, Ontario All-Stars (at Toronto)
5/23/53  Irish All-Stars 2, Manitoba Stars 0 (at Winnipeg)
5/30/53  Irish All-Stars 3, Vancouver Stars 1 (at Vancouver)
6/2/53   Irish All-Stars 5, Victoria Stars 1 (at Victoria, BC)
6/6/53   Irish All-Stars 2, B. C. Mainland Stars 3 (at Vancouver)
6/9/53   Irish All-Stars 9, Alberta All-Stars 1 (at Edmonton)
6/13/53  Irish All-Stars 1, Liverpool 3 (at Toronto)
6/16/53  Irish All-Stars 1, Young Boys Club 4 (at Montreal)

Liverpool F. C. of England: May 14, 1953 through June 14, 1953. Record: 9 wins, 0 draws, 1 loss.

Roster: Alan A'Court, Charles Ashercroft, Kevin Baron, Louis Bimpson, Laurie Hughes, Bill Jones, Ray Lambert, Billy Liddell, Joe Maloney, Ronnie Moran, Bob Paisley, Jim Payne, Roy Saunders, Sam Smyth, Edwin Spicer, Phil Taylor. Manager: Don Welsh.

5/14/53  Liverpool 4, Irish All-Stars 0 (at Brooklyn)
5/17/53  Liverpool 4, American League 1 (at Randall's Island)
5/20/53  Liverpool 4, New England 0 (at Fall River, MA)
5/24/53  Liverpool 4, Nuernberg 3 (at Randall's Island)
5/27/53  Liverpool 10, Montreal Stars 0 (at Montreal)
5/31/53  Liverpool 10, Toledo Turner 3 (at Toledo)
6/7/53   Liverpool 4, Chicago Stars 2 (at Chicago)
6/9/53   Liverpool 5, St. Louis Stars 1 (at St. Louis)
6/13/53  Liverpool 3, Irish All-Stars 1 (at Toronto)
6/14/53  Liverpool 1, Young Boys' Club 1 (at Yankee Stadium)

Young Boys' Club of Switzerland: June 4, 1953 through June 19, 1953. Record: 5 wins, 1 draw, 0 losses.

Roster: Edwin Baehler, Heinz Bigler, Charles Casali, Louis Casali, Walter Eich, Franco De Taddeo, Hans Fluehmann, Hans Gruetter, Erich Haag, Otto Haeuptli, Eugen Meier, Peter Roesch. Coach and Manager: Albert Sing.

6/4/53   Young Boys' 9, American League Stars 0 (at Yankee Stadium)
6/9/53   Young Boys' 1, Baltimore Stars 0 (at Baltimore)
6/12/53  Young Boys' 7, Newark Portuguese 0 (at Harrison, NJ)
6/14/53  Young Boys' 1, Liverpool 1 (at Yankee Stadium)
6/16/53  Young Boys' 4, Irish Stars 1 (at Montreal)
6/19/53  Young Boys' 6, Montreal Italia 1 (at Montreal)

Rapid City F. C. of Austria: February 22, 1953. Result: 0 win, 0 draws, 1 losses.

2/22/53  Rapid Vienna 4, America League/New York All-Stars 4 (at Dexter Park, Brooklyn)

American League Stars to Bermuda: July 12, 1953 through July 19, 1953. Results: 1 win, 0 draws, 2 losses.

Roster: John Boulos (Hakoah), William Connelly (Brookhattan), Otto Decker (Hakoah), Ralph Decker (Hakoah), David Dick (Philadelphia Nationals), John Donald (Kearney Scots), William Drake (Newark), Jack Huffin (Philadelphia Nationals), Ed Emberger (Philadelphia Americans), Erwin Finsterwald (Hakoah), Robert Gormley (Philadelphia Americans), Duncan McPhail (Newark), Roy Milne (New York Americans), Richard Roberts (Brooklyn Hispano), Arthur Sheppell (Kearney Scots). James Aitken, Trainer; Erno Schwarz, Business Manager.

7/12/53  American League 1, Palermo 6 (at Guatemala City)
7/16/53  American League 6, Communicaciones 3 (at Guatemala City)
7/19/53  American League 0, Palermo 2 (at Guatemala City)

American League (Jewish-American) Stars to the World Maccabiah in Israel: September 23, 1953 through September 29, 1953. Results: 2 wins, 0 draws, 2 losses.

Roster: Max Altman (N.Y. Swiss); Rolf Decker (N.Y. Hakoah); Harry Elkan (N.Y. Maccabi); Felix Goldstein (N.Y. Swiss), Sam Goldstein (N.Y. Hakoah); Ernest Helmreich (Brandeis Univ.); Albert Laverson (Drexel Tech.); Norman Leonard (N.Y. Hakoah); Harry Loew (San Francisco Hakoah); Jerry Mahrer (N.Y. Greek Americans); Erwin Maier (N.Y. Hakoah); Dennis Miklos (San Francisco Hakoah); Karl Porlkowsky (N.Y. Maccabi); Chaplin David Raab (U.S. Army); Aaron Sidi (N.Y. Blue Star); Max Sommerfield (N.Y. Lithuanian). Manager: Louis Greenblatt (N.Y. Hakoah). Coach: Edwin Lowenstein (N.Y. Maccabi).

9/23/53  United States 2, South Africa 3 (in Jaffa)
9/24/53  United States 1, France 3 (in Army Barracks)
9/28/53  United States 4, Switzerland 1 (in Jerusalem)
9/29/53  United States 1, Finland 0 (forfeit - in Tel-Aviv)

The College Game

1953 College Conference Champions: Intercollegiate Soccer Football Association (ISFA): Temple
California Intercollegiate Soccer Conference: San Francisco
Ivy League: Dartmouth
Mason-Dixon Conference: Johns Hopkins
Metropolitan Intercollegiate Soccer Conference: City College of New York
Middle Atlantic States Athletic Conference: Haverford
Midwestern Conference: Purdue
New England Intercollegiate Soccer League: Springfield College
Southern California Soccer Association: Cal Tech

College All-American Squad, 1953:

Goal               William Cox, San Francisco
Right Fullback     Jay Germand, Springfield
Left Fullback      Fred Gahres, East Stroudnsberg
Right Halfback     Vincent Palmieri, Cortland State
Center Halfback    Fred James, Duke
Left Halfback      Leonard Oliver, Temple
Outside Right      Manuel Ortiz, San Francisco
Inside Right       Henry Ford, Weslayen
Center Forward     Winfield Carlough, Trinity
Inside Left        Neil Mutschler, Trinity
Outside Left       Gabor Czako, Pennsylvania

Other Results

1953 U. S. Open Cup Champion: Chicago Falcons of the NSL/Chicago defeated Pittsburgh Harmarville 2-0 & 2-1 (see entry above).

1953 National Amateur Cup Final: Fall River Ponta Delgada defeated Chicago Slovaks 2-0.

Canadian National Champion: New Westminster Royals defeated Montreal Hakoah in Montreal to win the Canadian National Challenge Cup.

National Junior Amateur Cup: Newark S.C. and Hansa, Chicago (co-champions)

National Soccer Hall of Fame: In 1953, the Hall inducted Joe Barriskill, Wilfred Cummings, Powys A. L. Foulds, David Gould, John Jaap, Paul Klein, John MacEwan, and John Wood.

Last update: February 17, 2008

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