The Year in American Soccer - 1956

Written by David Litterer ( with supplemental material by Colin Jose

The American Soccer League

Ludlow Lusitano joined the ASL this season and immediately made an impact. Lusitano, from Ludlow, MA was a venerable club with a long and storied history. They were a leading club in the old New England Division of the ASL, which had folded in 1952, had won the New England Open a half dozen times, and made the finals of the National Amateur Cup in 1952, losing to the St. Louis Raiders. Since the ASL-NED's demise, Lusitano had been making do in the National Soccer League of Connecticut and the Boston & District League, but had chafed at the lack of quality competition. They found a natural home in the ASL, and immediately made an impact. Lusitano's roster was composed primarily of local talent; more than half of the players had been born in Ludlow and attended local high schools, but many had experience with prominent New England clubs in more recent years.

Despite their league title in 1954-55, the Uhrik Truckers did not stand pat. Jimmy Mills was hired as new team manager, and brought in Alex Shaw and Jimmy Dunn, former teammates of Mills with the Nationals, along with Al (Lefty) Didricksen at halfback. The back line was anchored by Jack Ormond and Johnny Oliver, with Bob Yingling in goal. The nucleus of the club was built around veterans Walter Bahr and Jackie Ferris. Hakoah kept almost all of their lineup intact, with the notable addition of Bob Kratzer, who was picked up from the outlaw German-American League. The Baltimore Rockets decided to go with youth this season, signing several new players including center forward Maxie Memoan, and inside forwards Bob Quigley and Frank Wojciechowski. Goal duties were retained by 1954 ASL MVP Cyril Hannaby.

Erno Schwarz returned to manage the New York Americans. New to the Americans were Pat McAuley, a Scottish-born center-halfback, goalkeeper Frank Lofton and Ed Emberger, coming over from the Philadelphia Americans. The Newark Portuguese returned much of their veteran squad, but added some impressive new talent including Jose Mota from Club Estoril, Lisbon, who had earned several caps for Portugal, Pascoal Pepe, Ed Smolinski (late of Trenton) and William Drake.

The season got off to an exciting start as Lusitano took an early lead in the league standings, with the NY Americans and Newark Portuguese close behind. In October, the ASL All-Stars defeated the Ontario All-Stars in a close-fought 3-2 affair at Zerega Oval, in the Bronx. The lead changed from week to week, as Lusitano, Newark and Uhrik battled for supremacy. Lusitano was the surprise of the league, being a new club with a team comprised mainly of unknowns. As the storms of January arrived, the Truckers pulled ahead to stay, leaving Newark and Lusitano to battle for 2nd place. In a final surprise, Elizabeth, who had been quietly cranking out a steady stream of victories, surged past them to take 2nd place. Brooklyn Hispano, having lost many of its better players, crashed to seventh place, and folded after the season, bringing the team's long history to an end. The Lewis Cup was not played this season due to the bad weather that had forced so many delays and postponements. The league voted to move the Lewis Competition to the fall, with the later rounds concurrently with the regular season matches.

The dispute with the German-American league was still in full swing as 1956 commenced (see 1955 entry), with the GAL continuing to play as an outlaw league (they preferred the term "independent"), but players defected to the ASL and other leagues in increasing numbers, particularly after FIFA backed the USSFA's action outlawing the circuit. The displaced NYSSFA filed a lawsuit against the USSFA claiming they lacked the jurisdiction to vacate the NYSSFA state election and set up a separate temporary commission. The case eventually reached the New York Supreme Court, where Judge Henry Clay Greenberg on April 9 backed the USSFA, who had successfully shown that their by-laws as well as those of the NYSSFA clearly made it mandatory for the parent body to investigate abuses and dereliction of duties of any affiliated organization, and to take appropriate remedial action. After that court decision, the innuendos and mudslinging died off, and before long, the dispute fizzled away, the GAL returned to the fold, as did the NYSSFA, and everything returned to normal, as if the entire dispute had never happened.

                         Final League Standings, 1955-56

Before the season, Ludlow was added.

                              G    W   T   L   GF  GA  PTS
Uhrik Truckers               16   10   4   2   48  25   24
Elizabeth Falcons            16   10   4   2   45  26   24
Ludlow Lusitano              16   10   2   4   35  17   22
Newark Portuguese            16    7   5   4   40  24   19
Brookhattan                  16    6   1   9   31  29   13
New York Americans           15    4   5   6   34  30   13
Brooklyn Hakoah              16    4   5   6   23  34   13
Brooklyn Hispano             14    2   4   8   20  34    8
Baltimore Rockets            16    1   2  13   21  77    4

CHAMPION:  Uhrik Truckers defeated Elizabeth Falcons (playoff)
LEWIS CUP:  (Not played)

After the season, Brooklyn Hispano withdrew.

Most valuable Player:  Jackie Hynes, Hakoah
TOP SCORER  Gene Grabowski, Elizabeth Falcons (19 goals)

LEADING SCORERS (Regular Season; as of May 20, 1956) 

Billy Sturfgess, New York Americans   17
George Andrade, Brookhattan           14
Gene Grabowski, Elizabeth Falcons     14
Pascoal Pepe, Newark Portuguese       10

National Soccer League (Chicago)

The outdoor season ended in a three-way tie between Polish Eagles, Ukrainian Lions and Schwaben. The Lions also took the Peel Cup to win the Illinois State Championship. The Eagles won the indoor title based on goals average, despite finishing in a tie with the Lions in the league table.

          Final Indoor League Standings, Major Division, 1956

                GP   W   T   L   Pts
Eagles           9   6   3   0   15
Lions            9   6   3   0   15
Falcons          9   4   4   1   12
Hansa            9   3   3   3    9
Hakoah           9   3   2   4    8
Schwaben         9   1   5   3    7
Slovaks          9   2   3   4    7
Nexaca           9   2   3   4    7
Rangers          9   2   2   5    6
Vikings          9   0   4   5    4

PEEL CUP WINNER: Ukrainian Lions

German-American Soccer League (New York)

German-Hungarian won their third consecutive league title, fighting off a close challenge by New York Hungarian. Officially the league played as an "independent" league, but the crowds didn't seem to mind, and attendance was good despite the steady loss of players to other leagues. The Premier Division came of age this season as several teams showed some fine performances, and Blau-Weiss Gottschee earned their first promotion to the Major League. Gotschee would go on to perform well throughout the 1960s. On the other end of the scale, Hoboken S. C., which was founded in 1912, finished last and was relegated downward. German-Hungarians continued their success by winning the New York State Challenge Cup.

       Final League Standings, Major Division, 1956

                   GP   W   T   L  PTS
German-Hungarian   18  15   3   0  33
New York Hungarian 18  13   3   2  29
Eintracht          18   9   3   6  21
New York           18   8   3   7  21
Minerva            18   7   5   6  19
Newark             18   7   1  10  19
Swiss              18   4   5   9  13
Elizabeth          18   5   5   9  13
Lithuanian*        18   4   1  13   9
Hoboken            18   3   3  12   9  
*-won playoff to avoid relegation.

Major Division:  German-Hungarians
Premier Division:  Blau-Weiss Gottschee
Major Reserves:  German-Hungarian
Premier Reserves:  Garfield-Passaic
Westchester Division:  Stamford United

Other Amateur Leagues and Cups

Baltimore Unlimited League: Baltimore Pompei
Stewart (Maryland State) Cup:: Baltimore Pompei Roland Cup (MD): Baltimore Pompei
Washington League:Lido
Eastern Shore (MD) League: Kent Island
Boston & District league: Boston Celtics
Massachusetts State Cup: Boston Celtics
Detroit League: Detroit Bavarian
Michigan State Cup: Ukrainian S. C.
Khoury League (St. Louis): Simpkins
Municipal League (St. Louis): Spanish Society
District Tournament (St. Louis): Kutis
CYC Senior Championship (St. Louis): St. Ambrose
St. Louis Municipal League: Spanish Society
New York State Senior Challenge Cup: German-Hungarians
Dr. Manning Challenge Cup:Sons of Malta
Long Island Soccer League: Lindenhurst
Eastern District League: Sons of Malta
Metropolitan District League: Goyan
National Soccer League of New York: Brooklyn Italian
New Jersey State Cup: Martino S. C.
New Jersey League: Martino S. C.
Eastern Pennsylvania Cup: Little Club of Philadelphia
West Penn State Cup: Harmarville Hurricanes
Washington Country League: Patterson Supply
Inter-City League (So. New England): Young Nationals
Inter-City League (Northwest NY): Simon Pure
Buffalo & District League: Polanie S. C.
California State Cup: Los Angeles Kickers S. C.
Illinois State Peel Cup: Chicago Eagles

The US National Team

Olympics was the theme in 1956. The USSFA organized tryouts for amateur players throughout the country. The Armed Forces, who has made some players available for Olympic efforts in 1952, created their own select 15-man team, which they flew in from Europe to take part. The colleges organized a selection process of their own. After a series of regional games narrowed the field of players, finals were held in St. Louis, from which a 16-man squad was selected.

Originally the team was to gather for two weeks of training in Los Angeles, but the Department of State invited them to tour the Far East before heading to Australia. The team got their practice during the tour. They won games in Japan, Formosa, Singapore and the Philippines, and lost to Korea, Hong Kong and Indonesia. All the fun ended, however, when they arrived in Melbourne. Their first round match was against Yugoslavia, one of the strongest teams in the tournament. The game was a mismatch from the start; the US was out of the game by the second half and only scored one goal (by Al Zerhusen) on the road to a 9-1 trouncing. Despite some comments, the players insisted they were not tired out by the tour, and in fact they said it helped them mesh and develop their strategies. The simple fact was Yugoslavia was too strong for them, and unfortunately the dream ended quickly. Yugoslavia went on to lose to Russia in the gold medal round.

US National Team Olympic Roster: 

Svend Engedahl (Los Angeles), Bill Conterio (Armed Forces, Chicago), 
Rolf Decker (New York), James Dorrian (New York), Harry Keough (St. Louis), 
Alfonso Marina (Brooklyn), Herman Wecke (St. Louis), Bill Looby (St. Louis), 
Ruben Mendoza (St. Louis), Lloyd Monsen (New York), Edward Murphy (Chicago), 
Richard Packer (Penn State), Zenon Snylyk (Chicago), Siegbert Wirth 
(Armed Forces, Syracuse), Albert Zerhusen (Armed Forces, Cincinnati), 
John Carden, and Ronald Coder (Armed Forces).  The team was coached by 
Jimmy Mills, and managed by William Hobson of Philadelphia.

                   1956 National Team results

    1956 Totals:  0W,  0D,  1L
Nov 28 56  L 1-9  Yugoslavia                +Melbourne, Australia (OLY'56)

                   1956 Pre-Olympic Tour of Asia

The U.S. Olympic team, on it's way to Australia to compete in the 1956 Olympic Games, toured South-East Asia.  The team left Los Angeles on October 21, 1956 and arrived in Melbourne on November 18.  Apart from the scores no records of these games exist.  The status of the games that appear to be against national teams has never been established, and as a result do not appear in the official records of the U.S. national teams.  Consequently the players that appeared in these games are not credited with national team appearances.  

United States  5:  Japan  3  in Tokyo
United States  6:  Kansei  0
United States  0:  South Korea  1 in Seoul
United States  6:  Formosa (Taiwan)  1
United States  1:  Hong Kong  2
United States  4:  Philippines  0  in Manila
United States  2:  Singapore  1
United States  5:  Indonesia  7  in Djakarta.

International Tours

Police Stars (West Germany): May 6, 1956 through May 23, 1956. Results: 2 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses.

5/6/56    Police Stars 2, German-American League Stars 2 (at New York, att: 19,786)
5/9/56    Police Stars 0, Premier Division Stars 1 (at Astoria, Queens, NY)
5/13/56   Police Stars 7, Connecticut All-Stars 2 (at Bridgeport, CT)
5/16/56   Police Stars 4, New York Hungarian 2 (at Astoria, Queens, NY)
5/20/56   Police Stars 1, German American League Stars 2 (at Brooklyn)
5/23/56   Police Stars 2, German American S. C. 4 (at Brooklyn)

Schwaben Augsberg (West Germany): May 13, 1956 through June 3, 1956. Results: 5 wins, 0 draws, 1 loss

5/13/56   Schwaben 4, Maryland All-Stars 3 (at Baltimore)
5/18/56   Schwaben 0, St. Louis Kutis 3
5/20/56   Schwaben 12, Wisconsin All-Stars 1 (at Milwaukee)
5/27/56   Schwaben 4, National League Stars 2 (at Chicago)
5/30/57   Schwaben 1, Everton 0 (at New York)
6/3/56    Schwaben 4, Uhrik Truckers 0 (at Philadelphia)

Everton (England): May 18, 1956b through June 17, 1956. Results: 7 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss, 1 result unknown.

5/18/56   Everton 4, New Jersey Select 0 (at Newark)
5/20/56   Everton 7, American Soccer League Stars 0 (at New York, att: 4,312)
5/25/56   Everton 4, Ludlow Lusitano 1 (at Ludlow, MA)
5/30/56   Everton 0, Schwaben 1 (at New York, NY)
6/2/56    Everton vs. St. Louis CYO (result unavailable)
6/3/56    Everton 3, National Soccer League Stars 2 (at Chicago)
6/9/56    Everton 3, Aberdeen 3 (at Vancouver, att: 18,363)
6/13/56   Everton 1, Aberdeen 1 (at Edmonton)
6/16/56   Everton 3, Aberdeen 1 (at Toronto, att: 15, 549)
6/17/56   Everton 6, Aberdeen 3 (at New York)

Aberdeen (Scotland): May 29, 1956 through June 17, 1956. Results: 3 wins, 2 draws, 3 losses.

5/29/56   Aberdeen 8, Ontario 3 (at Toronto)
6/5/56    Aberdeen 5, Manitoba All-Stars 0 (at Winnipeg)
6/7/56    Aberdeen 17, Saskatchewan All-Stars 0 (at Regina, SK)
6/9/56    Aberdeen 3, Everton 3 (at Vancouver, att: 18,363)
6/11/56   Aberdeen 2, British Columbia All-Stars 2 (at Vancouver, att: 6,561)
6/13/56   Aberdeen 1, Everton 2 (at Edmonton)
6/16/56   Aberdeen 1, Everton 3 (at Toronto, att: 15,549)
6/17/56   Aberdeen 3, Everton 6 (at New York, att: 7,183)

F. C. Austria (Austria): February 12, 1956. Result: 1 win.

2/12/56   F. C. Austria 7, American Soccer League Stars 1 (at New York, att: 4,312)
Not known if other games were played.

Olympic Team (Israel): April 29, 1956. Results: 1 win.

4/29/56   Israel 2, American Soccer League Stars 1 (at New York, att: 42,455)
Not known if other games were played.

Occidente (Mexico): May 5, 1956 through May 23, 1956. Results: 2 wins, 3 draws, 0 losses.

5/5/56    Occidente 1, Simpkins Ford 1 (at St. Louis)
5/12/56   Occidente 5, Nexaca 0 (at Chicago)
5/13/56   Occidente 1, National League Stars 1 (at Chicago)
5/20/56   Occidente 2, Detroit All-Stars 1 (at Detroit)
5/23/56   Occidente 1, Manitoba All-Stars 1 (at Winnipeg)

U. S. Olympic Team (To Far East): See National Team section above

Yale University (To Bermuda): No details available.

The College Game

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

1956 College Conference Champions:
Northern California Soccer Conference: San Francisco
New England Intercollegiate Soccer League: Trinity, Brown
Ivy League:  Yale
Metropolitan Intercollegiate Soccer Conference: City College of New York
Atlantic Coast Conference:  Maryland
Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate League:  Colorado Mines
Midwestern Conference:  Illinois-Chicago
Mason-Dixon Conference: Catholic, Towson State
Southern California Soccer Association:  UCLA
Middle Atlantic States Athletic Conference: Drexel Tech

College All-American Squad, 1956:

Goal               Michael Easterling, Wheaton
Right Fullback     Paul Coward, Purdue
Left Fullback      William Hughes, Brockport
Right Halfback     Thomas Colmey, Brockport
Center Halfback    Henry Lichtfuss, Towson State
Left Halfback      Raymond Wilson, West Chester
Outside Right      Kenneth Lindfors, Oberlin
Inside Right       Michael Cooke, Yale
Center Forward     Douglas Raynard, Trinity
Inside Left        Anthony Washofsky, Drexel Tech
Outside Left       Oswald Jethon, Drexel Tech

Other Results

1956 U. S. Open Cup Final: On April 30 and May 5 respectively, Pittsburgh Harmarville Hurricanes played Chicago Schwaben (NSL). They lost the first match 0-1 and won the second 3-1, to win on goals aggregate.

1956 National Amateur Cup Final: On June 17, St. Louis Kutis defeated Philadelphia Ukrainians 1-0

National Junior Cup Champion: St. Engelbert of St. Louis

Canadian National Champion: Vancouver Halecos defeated Winnipeg Germania 5-1.

Hall of Fame: In 1956, Willie Anderson and Vic Weston were inducted.

NSCAA Honor Award: Richard W. Schmelzer, R. P. I.

Last update: May 15, 2008

Back to American Soccer History Archives main page