The Year in American Soccer - 1954

Written by David Litterer (

The American Soccer League

The 22nd season started September 20, 1953, with seven returning clubs and two newcomers. Philadelphia Nationals looked to repeat their championship run of the previous season, but Brookhattan and the New York Americans promised to make a strong challenge for supremacy. New to the circuit were the Baltimore Rockets, headed by Gil Schuerholz as manager and Millard Lang as general manager. The Rockets shared the spacious Memorial Stadium in Baltimore with the NFL Colts. Returning to the league were the Trenton Americans who had been forced to drop out after the 1949-50 season. The Rockets were headed by owner-manager Frank Pestrak. The Kearny Scots, one of the league's most successful teams, was forced to withdraw, due to their inability to secure a suitable playing venue, and their players were "temporarily" dispersed to the other teams.

The season abounded with surprises. It got off to a slightly rocky start, as one of the opening games was called off by mutual consent. Seems the Philadelphia Americans had lost several players due to an incident in a pre-season match the previous week where fans stormed the field resulting in several injuries. The Newark Portuguese - last season's runner-up - took the lead and held it until mid-October when the New York Americans pulled ahead, and held onto a slim lead for the rest of the season to take the regular season title. Brookhattan was greatly improved this season, and finished tied with Newark Portuguese for 2nd place, just one game behind the Americans. Philadelphia didn't fare nearly as well. In one of the biggest collapses in league history, the defending Nationals, who had run into serious financial difficulties at the start of the season, folded 4 games into the season after reorganization attempts failed and attendance slumped. The Philly Americans were bought by a local trucking magnate, becoming the Uhrik Truckers. This team would go on to considerable success over the next few years. The New York Americans went on to win the U. S. Open Cup by defeating Kutis of St. Louis 3-1 in a two-leg series.

                         Final League Standings, 1953-54

Before the season, Baltimore and Trenton were added.  During the season,
Philadelphia Americans were absorbed by the Uhrik Truckers.  

                              G   W   T   L   GF  GA  PTS
New York Americans           14  11   1   2   35  16   23
Brookhattan                  15  10   2   3   39  25   22
Newark Portuguese            16   9   4   3   39  26   22
Brooklyn Hispano             13   5   5   3   22  21   15
Brooklyn Hakoah              14   6   2   6   26  26   14
Trenton Americans            15   4   3   8   16  27   11
Baltimore Rockets            15   3   5   7   22  36   11
Philadelphia Americans/Uhrik 14   2   5   7   25  33    9
Philadelphia Nationals*       4   2   1   1   10  10    5

*Philadelphia Nationals folded after 4 games (2-1-1-10-10-5),
and their remaining games were awarded to opponents as 1-0 wins.

CHAMPION:  New York Americans
LEWIS CUP WINNER:  Newark Sport Club defeated Eintracht FC of the German-American League 3-1
LEADING SCORER (Regular Season): Jack Calder (Newark Portuguese)- 19 goals
Most valuable Player:  Cyril Hannaby, Baltimore Rockets

National Soccer League (Chicago)

The 1954 outdoor season ended in a tumultuous climax that involved a riot, protest and suspension as time ran out on a crucial late-season match between Slovaks and the Lions. With three minutes left in a 2-2 match, a frenzy ensued, leading to a protest by the Lions regarding an ineligible player in the Slovak's lineup. The protest was sustained, and the Slovaks were suspended for their final game. This left the Slovaks, Lions and Eagles tied for the league lead with 19 points each. Unfortunately, the protest decision came near the end of December, leaving no time for playoffs, with the indoor season looming. So the three teams were declared co-champions. Far behind in the standings were Schwaben and Falcons, taking the 4th and 5th spots. Rangers avoided demotion by defeating Hansa in a playoff match. Hansa followed last-place Necaxa down to the First Division.

The First Division title was won by Vikings, with Sparta as runner-up; both earning promotion back up to the familiar confines of the Major division. Arsenal won the Second Division title. Hansa's reserve and "B" teams won the Major and First reserve divisions respectively.

The Lions became the first team to win the Indoor season's Aksel Nielsen Trophy twice, leaving them one title short of claiming the trophy permanently. The Lions took the indoor Major Division title in a thrilling finish. Trailing the Vikings 3-0, with four minutes to play, the Lions tied the score with 30 seconds remaining, and landed the winning goal just before the final whistle. Rangers and Hakoah finished tied for the First Division lead, with Rangers winning a playoff match. In a show of parity, the Rangers defeated the Lions in an exhibition match between the two divisional champs. The Indoor season set new attendance marks, and several games were broadcast on WGN-TV with jack Brickhouse at the mike.

The Polish Eagles repeated as winners of the Illinois State Peel Cup, defeating Necaxa 3-2 in a thrilling classic.

          Final League Standings, Major Division, 1954

                GP   W   L   T   Pts
Eagles          14   7   2   5   19
Lions           14   9   4   1   19
Slovaks         14   8   3   3   19
Schwaben        14   5   4   5   15
Falcons         14   5   7   2   12
Rangers         14   4   7   3   11
Hansa           14   5   8   1   11
Necaxa          14   1   9   4    6

PEEL CUP WINNER:  Polish Eagles

German-American Soccer League (New York)

The German-Hungarians reclaimed the league title in a tight race that was not decided until the final week of the season. Eintracht lead the race for much of the season, with Newark remaining in the chase until the later weeks. Newark, Swiss, Elizabeth and New York finished bunched together in the middle of the standings, while Brooklyn and the Greek Americans were relegated. Blue Star won the Premier Divisional title after a close race with Minerva.

       Final League Standings, Major Division, 1954

                   GP   W   L   T  PTS
German-Hungarian   22  17   2   3   37
Eintracht          22  16   2   4   36
Newark             22  12   5   4   28
Swiss              22  11   6   5   27
Elizabeth          22  11   8   3   25
New York           22  12  10   0   24
New York Hungarians22   9   9   4   22
Lithuanian         22   9  12   1   19
Hoboken            22   6  13   2   14
Kollsman           22   5  15   2   12
Brooklyn           22   5  16   1   11
Greek-American     22   4  17   1    9 

Major Division:  German-Hungarians
Premier Division:  Blue Star

St. Louis Leagues

The St. Louis Major Soccer League folded after the previous season, bringing to an end a major era in the history of St. Louis soccer. Although the Major League was not as prominent or long-lived as the old St. Louis League which was so prominent in the 1920s, the Major League did field some highly successful teams who made a major impact at the national level. The league's demise came about due to the loss of their playing venue, which had been sold for redevelopment. The Municipal League absorbed some of the orphaned teams, including Simpkins and Kutis. These teams had an immediate impact, with Simpkins winning the South Division title and Kutis #1 (They fielded a team in each division), taking the North. Kutis surged into the finals of the US Open Cup, falling to the ASL's New York Americans. Simpkins made it to the finals of the "simon pure" tournament (a.k.a. the National Amateur Cup), where they lost to Pittsburgh Beadling 7-6.

Three St. Louis players (Bill Looby, Harry Keough and Frank Borghi) were on the US National Team that played Mexico in the World Cup eliminations. They were joined by Mendoza and Wecke for two victories against Haiti. Looby justified his previous selection to the 1952 Olympic squad by scoring four of the seven US goals in these two series. Looby scored the only goal against Mexico, which gave the US a 1-0 lead which held for over an hour. Bill Looby also won the Municipal League scoring title. On May 9, Simpkins was crushed 8-4 by Plymouth Argyle in the opening match of their American tour.

Sadly, the woes the brought down the Major League would spread to the Municipal League as well. In 1955, increasing frustration with the league's chaotic management left several teams to bolt and form the new Khoury League. The Municipal League would continue on until folding after the 1957 season.

      Final Standings, Municipal League, 1954

              GP   W   L   T   Pt

      North Division
Kutis No. 1   15  14   0   1   29
Grapettes     15   8   5   2   18
Franklins     15   6   5   4   16
Sullivans     15   5   6   4   14
Craigs        15   4   8   4   11
Diamonds      15   1  14   0    2

      South Division
Simpkins      12  11   0   1   23
Kutis No. 2   12   8   3   1   17
Carondelet    12   5   5   2   12
Meramee       12   2   8   2   10
Polish N.A.   12   0  10   2    2

Catholic Youth Council Champion:  St. Philip Neri (Senior class); Sts. Mary & Joseph (Junior Class)
Municipal League Champion: Kutis

Other Amateur Leagues and Cups

National League of Connecticut: Vasco de Gama (15-2-1)
Connecticut State Cup: Vasco de Gama
Metropolitan League (New York): Torinos
Metropolitan & District Challenge Cup (NYC): Sada (10-2-2-22)
Eastern District League (NYC): Maccabi
Long Island League: Sea Cliff
New York State Challenge Cup: Lithuanian
Dr. Manning Challenge Cup: Greek-American Reserves
Philadelphia Soccer League: Little Club
Stewart Cup (MD):surf
Rowland Cup (MD): Surf
West Penn State Cup: Morgan Strasser
Keystone League (West PA): Morgan Strasser, Castle Shannon
Washington County League (West PA): Gallatin-Dunleavy
National League of New York: Gjoa (14-1-4-32) League Cup: Danish
Southern New England Association Cup: Portsmouth Priory
Detroit League: Bavarians
Governor Kohler Cup (Wisconsin): Milwaukee S.C.
Kansas City League: Guadaloupe; Spring Tournament: Ford-Lapin
Texas State Cup: Galan Construction No. 1 (also won City League title)
Colorado Association: Maccabi (15-2-3-32; Collegiate League champ. Defeated Maccabi (15-2-3-32); Industrial League champ) 7-1 in playoff to win the Denver Post Cup)
Colorado State Cup: Maccabi
Van Dongen Cup (Utah): Hollandia A
Greater Los Angeles League: Scots (1st Division); Danish S.C. (2nd Division)
San Francisco League: El Salvador
California State Cup (North): Vikings
California State Senior Challenge Cup: {not played}
Sacramento Valley League: Buergermeister; Mariette-Ledwig Cup: Regal Pale

The US National Team

The National Team entered 1954 still smarting from their recent loss to England at Yankee Stadium, played before the smallest crowd (7,271) ever to watch the English National team. The US Squad was soon making preparations for their 1954 World Cup qualification matches, but got off to a chaotic start before even hitting the fields. The USSFA accepted for "climatic reasons" to play both qualifiers against Mexico in January. This led to a rushed set of tryouts in Chicago and New York, out of which a team including several non-citizens was chosen. Mexico protested, citing FIFA rules allowing only native-born or naturalized citizens. This led to four players being replaced, two of them virtually on the eve of the team's departure to Mexico. Veterans of the 1950 World Cup were in prominence on the squad. The roster included World Cup 1950 participants Harry Keough, Walter Bahr, John Souza, and Ed Souza, as well as Efram "Chico" Chacurian, Cornelius Casey, Terry Springthorpe, Bill Looby and Billy Sheppell.

The Mexicans had been training for weeks, and made light of the Americans' slapdash preparations. One newspaper joked that "The American players will meet each other on Wednesday, train on Thursday and play Mexico on Sunday". Actually, it was worse than that. The players were introduced to each other at the Airport on Friday, as they boarded their plane for the flight south.

Two days later, the US took to the field on January 10 before a stadium of 60,000 hostile partisans. Mexico's coach anticipated the US crowding the defense, and ordered immediate attacks to surprise them before they could organize. This strategy worked, and Mexico cruised to a 4-0 victory. An editorial described the unexpected challenges of playing an American side with a peculiar analysis: "The main danger of Uncle Sam's team is represented by an absolute ignorance of soccer, which together with the aggressiveness and excellent physical condition of the players, makes our opponents a very difficult team."

The US had four days to pull themselves together, and the rematch provided better weather. With a few lineup changes, the US took an early lead off a Looby goal, and managed to hold onto a draw until the 75th minute. They lost energy after that, and eventually lost 3-1. As quickly as this, the US was out of World Cup contention. The USSFA wanted to forfeit the two remaining meaningless matches against Haiti, but FIFA encouraged them to play on. In a slight silver lining, a "pick-up" squad, containing most of the players from the Mexico series, as well as Benny McLaughlin and Robert Craddock, flew to Haiti with no practice, and easily defeated the Haitians 3-2 and 3-0 on consecutive nights. Unfortunately, this series marked just the beginning of a long strength of World Cup qualifying failure that would not be ended until Paul Caligiuri's famous shot sent the Americans into the 1990 tournament.

                   1954 National team results

    1954 Totals:  2W,  0D,  2L
Apr 04 54  W 3-0  Haiti                      Port au Prince, Haiti (WCQ'54)
               Looby (2), Mendoza
Apr 03 54  W 3-2  Haiti                      Port au Prince, Haiti (WCQ'54)
               Looby, Mendoza, Chachurian
Jan 14 54  L 1-3  Mexico                     Mexico City, Mexico (WCQ'54)
Jan 10 54  L 0-4  Mexico             60,000  Mexico City, Mexico (WCQ'54)

International Tours

Borussia S.C. (West Germany): May 2, 1954 through May 23, 1954). Record: 5 wins, 0 draws, 1 loss.

Roster: Wilhelm Burgmeister, Glentor Falke, Hans Fluegel, Paul Koschmirier, Henrich Kwiatkowski, Georg Linder, Adolph Luckenbach, Max Mishallek, Alfred Niepieklo, Alfred Preissler, Gunther Rau, Herbert Sandamm, Erich Schanko, Edward Wischner. Trainer and Coach: Bumbas Schmidt.

5/2/54    Borrusia 2, Fortuna 0 (at Randalls Island, NY)
5/7/54    Borussia 4, Plymouth Argyle 0 (at Chicago)
5/9/54    Borussia 13, Cleveland Stars 2 (at Cleveland)
5/14/54   Borussia 6, Fortuna 2 (at Milwaukee)
5/16/54   Borussia 3, Plymouth Argyle 1 (at Los Angeles)
5/23/54   Borussia 6, Chelsea 1 (at Randalls Island, NY)

Chelsea F.C. (England): May 9, 1954 through June 6, 1954. Record: 5 wins, 1 draw, 2 losses.

Roster: Roy Bentley, Ronald Greenwood, John Harris, Richard Kitchener, James Lewis, Peter McKnight, John McNichol, Eric Parsons, William Robertson, Alan Rule, Derek Saunders, Peter Sillett, Robert Smith, Leslie Stubbs, Sidney Tickeridge, Stanley Wicks. Manager: Ted Drake.

5/9/54    Chelsea 3, Fortuna 2 (at Randalls Island, NY)
5/16/54   Chelsea 0, Rangers 1 (at Montreal)
5/20/54   Chelsea 7, Rockets 1 (at Baltimore)
5/23/54   Chelsea 1, Borussia 6 (at Randalls Island, NY)
5/26/54   Chelsea 6, New England Stars 0 (at Fall River, MA)
5/30/54   Chelsea 2, All-Stars 0 (at Harrison, NJ)
6/4/54    Chelsea 4, Rangers 1 (at Toronto)
6/6/54    Chelsea 0, Rangers 0 (at Randalls Island, NY)

Note of interest:  Part way though the Chelsea tour, Chelsea lost its goalkeeper
with a serious injury.  Argyle, going home before Chelsea, allowed them to borrow Shortt.

Fortuna F. C. (Germany): May 2, 1954 through May 18, 1954. Record: 3 wins, 1 draw, 2 losses.

Roster: Kurt Borkenhagen, Josef Derwall, Hans Fandel, Karl Gramminger, Martin Gramminger, Gerd Hoffman, Heinz Hohsdorf, Herbert Jaeger, Paul Janes, Erich Justoviak, Roph Kern, Kurt Krueger, Matthias Mauritz, Hans Mueller, Josef Risse, Tony Turek, Willy Weier, Jacob Wimmer. Trainer: Kuno Kloetzer. President: Herbert Pontzen.

5/2/54    Fortuna 6, Borussia 0 (at Randalls Island, NY)
5/4/54    Fortuna 11, Central New York 1 (at Schenectady)
5/9/54    Fortuna 2, Chelsea 3 (at Randalls Island, NY)
5/14/54   Fortuna 2, Borussia 6 (at Milwaukee)
5/16/54   Fortuna 2, Ulster United 2 (at Detroit)
5/18/54   Fortuna 3, German-American League Stars 1 (At Astoria, Queens, NYC)

Glasgow Rangers (Scotland): May 16, 1954 through June 6, 1954. Record: 7 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss.

Roster: Eric Caldow, Sammy Cox, Derek Grierson, John Hubbard, John Little, Ian McColl, Willie McCulloch, George Niven, Willie Paton, John Prentice, Willie Rae, Jock Shaw, Billy Simpson, Duncan Stanners, Willie Thornton, Willie Waddel, Willie Woodburn, George Young. Acting Manager: J. Rogers Simpson.

5/16/54   Rangers 1, Chelsea 0 (at Montreal)
5/19/54   Rangers 6, All-Stars 0 (at Hamilton, ON)
5/22/54   Rangers 4, Ontario Stars 1 (at Toronto)
5/24/54   Rangers 9, All-Stars 1 (at Vancouver)
5/26/54   Rangers 7, All-Stars 0 (at Victoria, B.C.)
5/29/54   Rangers 3, All-Stars 0 (at Vancouver)
6/2/54    Rangers 5, Manitoba 0 (at Winnipeg)
6/5/54    Rangers 1, Chelsea 4 (at Toronto)
6/6/54    Rangers 0, Chelsea 0 (at Randalls Island, NY)

Plymouth Argyle (England): May 7, 1954 through June 1, 1954. Record: 8 wins, 0 draws, 2 losses.

Roster: Jack Chisholm, Jimmy Crawford, Malcolm Davies, Neil Dougall, Ernest Edds, Pat Jones, Neil Langman, Leslie Major, Samuel McCrory, Tony McShane, Arthur Morgan, John Porteous, Pat Radcliffe, George Robertson, William Shortt. Manager: James Rae.

5/7/54    Plymouth Argyle 0, Borussia 4 (at Chicago)
5/9/54    Plymouth Argyle 8, Simpkins S.C. 4 (at St. Louis)
5/13/54   Plymouth Argyle 16, All-Stars 2 (at Denver)
5/16/54   Plymouth Argyle 1, Borussia 3 (at Los Angeles)
5/19/54   Plymouth Argyle 2, Los Angeles Scots 0 (at Los Angeles)
5/23/54   Plymouth Argyle 3, All-Stars 2 (at San Francisco)
5/25/54   Plymouth Argyle 8, All-Stars 1 (at Chicago)
5/29/54   Plymouth Argyle 6, Chicago Falcons 1 (at Detroit)
5/30/54   Plymouth Argyle 3, All-Stars 2 (at Philadelphia)
6/1/54    Plymouth Argyle 1, New York Stars 0 (at Astoria, Queens, NYC)

Note of interest:  In the game against St. Louis, Argyle centre forward 
Neil Lampman, being marked by Charlie Colombo, scored six of Argyle's eight goals.
This may be the only time that ever happened to Charlie.

Wacker (Austria), Rot-Weiss (Germany), Olaria (Brazil): February 14, 1954 through June 29, 1954.

2/14/54   Wacker 2, New York Stars 0 (Croke Park, NYC)
6/9/54    Rot-Weiss 9, German-American League Stars 1 (at Randalls Island, NYC)
6/9/54    Olaria 6, ASL Stars 1 (at Randalls Island, NYC)
6/13/54   Olaria 2, Rot-Weiss 2 (at Randalls Island, NYC)
6/15/54   Olaria 1, Rot-Weiss 4 (at Fall River, MA)
6/18/54   Olaria 1, Rot-Weiss 1 (at Harrison, NJ)
6/20/54   Olaria 0, Rot-Weiss 1 (at Randalls Island, NYC)

U. S. All-Jewish to World Maccabi Games (Israel): September 23, 1954 through September 29, 1954.

9/23/54  United States 2, South Africa 3 (at Jaffa)
9/24/54  United States 1, France 3 (at Army Barracks)
9/28/54  United States 4, Swiss 1 (at Jerusalem)
9/29/54  United States 1, Finland 0 (forfeit) (at Jerusalem)

The College Game

According to Dick Schmeizer, editor of the NCAA Guide, there were now 125 college teams in 31 states, double the number of two years previous. Five teams finished with unbeaten records, with Oberlin extending its winning streak to 41 straight games. The Intercollegiate Association recognized Penn State as the best team in the nation based on it's 8-0-0 record and the strength of its playing schedule.

National co-champions (as selected by the Intercollegiate Soccer Football Association): Penn State.

1954 College Conference Champions:
California Intercollegiate Soccer Conference: San Francisco
New England Intercollegiate Soccer League: Dartmouth
Ivy League:  Dartmouth
Metropolitan Intercollegiate Soccer Conference: City College of New York
Atlantic Coast Conference:  Maryland
Midwestern Conference:  Earlham
Mason-Dixon Conference: Baltimore
Southern California Soccer Association:  UCLA
Middle Atlantic States Athletic Conference: Washington College

College All-American Squad, 1954:

Goal               Bruce Hewell, Navy
Right Fullback     Robert Siemonds, Allegheny
Left Fullback      Hector J Riquezes, Duke
Right Halfback     Vincent Palmieri, Cortland State
Center Halfback    Norman Thoms, Oberlin
Left Halfback      Leonard Oliver, Temple
Outside Right      Paul Clark, Wheaton
Inside Right       Jack Dunn, Temple
Center Forward     Richard Packer, Penn State
Inside Left        Francis Adams, Army
Outside Left       John Pinezich, Penn State

Other Results

1954 U. S. Open Cup: New York Americans (ASL) defeated St. Louis Kutis 1-0 and 2-0 on April 18 and May 15 respectively.

1954 National Amateur Cup Final: Pittsburgh Beadling defeated St. Louis Simpkins on aggregate goals 7-6. They lost the first match 2-5 on April 25, and won the rejoinder 5-1 on May 2.

National Junior Challenge Cup: Hansa of Chicago

Canadian National Challenge Cup: Winnipeg Scottish defeated Vancouver North Shore.

Hall of Fame: In 1954, Aldo "Buff" Donelli, Jimmy Douglas, and Jimmy Mills, were inducted.

NSCAA Honor Award: E. Paul Patton, Administrator

Last update: March 4, 2005

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