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History of soccer in the United States

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Title: History of soccer in the United States  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Soccer in the United States, Cleveland Caps, Stanislaus County Cruisers, Hawaii Tsunami, US Club Soccer
Collection: Soccer in the United States
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

History of soccer in the United States

The history of soccer in the United States has numerous different roots. The modern-day game, is often considered to have been brought to the United States through

  • The American Soccer History Archives
  • United States Soccer Federation

External links

  1. ^ Miller, Scheyer, and Sherrard, Gretchen ,Jonathan ,Emily. "Women’s Soccer Before 1999". Duke Word Press. Retrieved January 25, 2013. 
  1. ^ Crawford, Scott (2013). A History of Soccer in Louisiana: 1858-2013. New Orleans: LAprepSoccer Publishing Co.  
  2. ^ "Origins, History of the Game". U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame. 
  3. ^ "Sports in America: Soccer". U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany. U.S. State Department. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  4. ^ "The Cosmic Ball Game of Pok-A-Tok". Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  5. ^ "The American Indians and Pasuckuakohowog". Football Network. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  6. ^ Bundgaard, p. 49.
  7. ^ Allaway, Roger West Hudson: A Cradle of American Soccer
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Litterer, Dave. "The Year in American Soccer - 1929". The American Soccer Archives. Retrieved 5 June 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c Westervelt, Ted (5 October 2010). "Doing the Same Thing Over and Over and Expecting Different Results". Retrieved 5 June 2011. 
  10. ^ "1928 National Challenge Cup Results". Retrieved 5 June 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c Allaway, Roger (24 October 2010). "What was the "Soccer War"?". BigSoccer. Retrieved 5 June 2011. 
  12. ^ September 25, 1928 The Globe
  13. ^ November 4, 1929 The Globe
  14. ^ Litterer, Dave. "The Year in American Soccer - 1930". The American Soccer Archives. Retrieved 5 June 2011. 
  15. ^ Litterer, Dave. "The Year in American Soccer - 1933". The American Soccer Archives. Retrieved 5 June 2011. 
  16. ^ by who?
  17. ^ "FIFA: USA – Paraguay match report".  
  18. ^ "CNN/Sports Illustrated – Bert Patenaude". CNN. Retrieved 2006-06-09. 
  19. ^ "Planet World Cup – World Cup Trivia". Retrieved 2006-06-09. 
  20. ^ "The Football Association 20 World Cup Facts".  
  21. ^ "FIFA World Cup hat-tricks" (PDF).  
  22. ^ "1930 FIFA World Cup Uruguay – Awards". Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  23. ^ Yannis, Alex (April 22, 1985). "U.S. Soccer Team Hindered". Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  24. ^ " – Inside Game – Michael Lewis – Offside Remarks –'s Lewis: Learning from history – Friday November 10, 2000 07:29 PM". Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  25. ^ "U.S. defeats Mexico again in Gold Cup final". MSNBC. Retrieved 2007-06-30. 
  26. ^ "South American soccer federation miffed at U.S.".  
  27. ^ Krishnaiyer, Kartik (2008-08-15). "Bob Bradley’s US Squad Stale and Predictable". Major League Soccer Talk. 
  28. ^ "Egypt 3–0 USA". BBC Sport. 2009-06-21. Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  29. ^ Chowdhury, Saj (2009-06-25). "Spain 2–0 United States". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  30. ^ United States 3–2 Brazil – BBC Sport
  31. ^ "USA Gold Cup Roster". The Washington Post. 
  32. ^ Shapiro. , 19 September 2007. Video, Ouisie. "Dare to Dream". HBO Productions. 


See also

The United States Women's National Soccer Team had a great impact on the United States after the Rose Bowl, 2004 Olympics, and other games and tournaments. More people started to appreciate sports even more than before. U.S. fans started to attend more sporting events.

Sport Impact

In November, 2012, the US, Mexican and Canadian soccer federations announced the establishment of the National Women's Soccer League to begin play in 2013.


In the final match USA played Brazil. The United States won gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics. After the olympics the 5 who made women athletes and helped establish women's soccer retired, but helped inspire other girls and continue to make the USWNST great and gold medalists.

2004 Summer Olympics

The 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup was originally supposed to be held in China. However, before the tournament a deadly epidemic spread killing thirteen people. Therefore, the Women's World Cup was held in the United States. In the semifinal the USA played Germany. Germany won 1-0, eliminating the USA from the 2003 Women's World Cup.

2003 World Cup

Early 2003 the Women's National Soccer Team was told that their league had been canceled. The WUSA league was folding after three years. The USWNST was devastated. But they earned the league once and they could most likely earn the WUSA back again. The league was stopping because it did not have enough money to continue. They were not getting enough ticket sales and sponsors to keep the league running. Mia Hamm helped use their loss of their league to motivate themselves to play even better in their future games to earn it back.


The country's reaction to the Women's Team winning was incredible. Stores started to use Mia Hamm and other players on the team to help advertise shampoo and more, Brandi Chastain's celebration after the goal made magazines, articles, stories, newspapers, and advertisements for sports bras. Their victory made the front page headline of newspapers all around the country.

Their next game was against Germany, this game was considerably harder, however the USA still won 3-2. In the semi-final game, USA vs. Brazil, the USA won 2-0. At the final game of the 1999 World Cup, the USA played China. These two teams brought in about 90,000 people, officially making the Rose Bowl the biggest women's sporting event in history. A minute for overtime, Michelle Akers, one of the stars on the team, was knocked out she was blacking out and not capable of playing. After the overtime passed, the score was still 0-0 which meant that they were going to go into penalty kicks. USA goal keeper, Scurry saved the third penalty kick, and Brandi Chastain scored the winning goal. The crowd went wild, as the ball went in, Brandi whipped off her shirt making the front cover of the Sports Illustrated magazine, newspapers and store pictures. The team was now being used as advertisers.

The USA's first game was against Denmark and the USA won 3-0. This also meant that the USA was going to continue and move on further into the World Cup. In the second game the USA played Nigeria and crushed, 7-1. The USA won their third game 3-0 against North Korea. The crowd at the stadium was so energetic because of the team's response to the crowd of fans.

The 1999 Women's World Cup was hosted in the United States. The stadium planned was small, however, the organizers of the cup decided that some arrangements could be made. Now the cup was going to be held in a very large stadium. Marla Messing, one of the World Cup Organizers said that this event was going to bring in more fans and money than possibly any other sporting event in the history of soccer or any other sport. The game was going to be held in the Rose Bowl. Every ticket to the game was sold, the World Cup was completely sold out. America wanted to see the team prove how well they could play.

1999 World Cup

The win started to get little groups of peoples attention, including larger crowds at games. The Olympic women's soccer games were not broadcast on television making people outside of Atlanta to be able to see the women's team play. This no press problem was making it harder for the women's team to show their place in sports.

At the Olympics the women's team drew crowds greater than any other soccer game before including men's, 65,000 fans. In the semi-final game against Norway, the United States won 2-1 which meant that they would go to the final game, playing China. During the game against China, the united States scored with 5 minutes left in the match. China could not follow the goal up, meaning that the USWNST won the gold medal. Winning a gold medal meant that the women's team would get a bonus on their salary and hopefully next tournament they would have another raise on their salary bonuses.

Julie Foudy called Billie Jean King asking for help of how to get attention from the Federation since they were not listening. Billie Jean King told Julie that the easiest way to get attention from anyone is to stop what you are doing. This meant that the team would not play in the first Olympics ever girls were allowed in. Michelle Akers offered not to play to help and benefit the team. However, this would mean losing one of the best players on the team. Later during practice before the Olympics eight other players offered to drop out of the Olympics. This made the Olympics questionable, did they have enough players, what would happen without their stars, how far would they make it? The Women's Soccer Federation finally raised their bonus to a silver as well. This put the questioning of going to the Olympics down, the Women's National Soccer team was going.

In 1996 the Women's National Soccer Team faced their soccer federation to stand up for themselves and question about going to their home Olympics. In 1996, the USWNST got a spot in the Olympics that were held in Atlanta Georgia, US. At the time, the men's team got paid a bonus for any medal, bronze through gold (more for a higher place). However, the women's team only got a bonus for a gold medal, whilst their bonus for gold was less than for a men's bronze. After talking to the Federation of Soccer, they negotiated a bonus for a silver medal as well. However, the women's team's bonus for gold and silver were still lower than the men's team. But to have a bonus for two medals satisfied the team.

1996 Summer Olympics

At the 1995 World Cup, the United States went against Norway in the semi-final match and lost 1–0.


After the tournament, they said that the team would not get enough money to keep them going. People did not believe that women's games would be a big draw. After the tournament, the team departed from each other. There was also no training, games, or schedule. The players had no idea what the fate of the team was. The team had stopped for a while.

In 1991, FIFA held the first FIFA Women's World Cup with 12 teams participating. The USA won its three group matches to finish first in its group, beat Taipei in the quarterfinals, and defeated Germany 5-2 in the semifinals. The USA Women's team was the first United States team to reach the finals of a World Cup. The United States beat Norway 2-1 in the final, and was also the first U.S soccer team to win a World Cup.

1991 Women's World Cup

In the mid-1980s, there was a little bit of hope for women athletes. Coach Anson wanted to create a National team from a bunch of college aged girls. And most importantly he wanted them to prove to the world how good they are. This was the very beginning of the start of women's professional and team sports. Anson Dorrance was the head coach of a North Carolina team and wanted to take over the role of the National Team. Anson's goal was to turn the team into World Champions. The team he brought together was a group of 15- through 18-year-old girls, Mia Hamm being the youngest and Michelle Akers the oldest. Everything was so new to them because there used to never be a women's national team. The team played for no money, rode on third class buses to get to games, and cheap hotels. They just played because they loved soccer and wanted to help girls who also wanted to play a team sport. When they first started, Anson was told that his job was on the line, meaning that if the team did not perform well enough there will be no more Women's National Soccer Team. This was the team's first motivation that they had to play well.



The history of women's soccer changed in the 1990s.[Soccer History 1] The team played in the FIFA M and M World Cup, Rose Bowl tournament and other tournaments and games not broadcast to America. The USWNST (United States Women's National Soccer Team) won most of their tournaments and became more noticed by the press.[32] As the women's national team continued to play and win, women professional leagues worldwide were established, along with broadcast games.


Women's soccer

The United States exited 2014 shakily, as opposed to their entry. In early September, Landon Donovan played his farewell match, and for a few months after, the USA failed to earn a win until a friendly against Panama.

2014 brought Klinsmann's first World Cup with the United States, in which they were drawn in a "Group of Death" in Group G, alongside Germany, Portugal, and Ghana. Controversy marked the USA's entry, with the exclusion of Landon Donovan from the roster, with many believing Julian Green had been brought on at Donovan's expense. The USA entered the World Cup on a 3-game win streak from their send-off series. They defeated Ghana 2-1 off of a header from John Brooks in the 89th minute, and then played Portugal. The United States looked to have defeated Portugal and to have sealed a place in the knockout stages, but in stoppage time, Portugal scored a goal to end the game 2-2. The United States then played Germany and lost 1-0, but did escape group on goal difference. They were defeated by Belgium 2-1 in extra time after a heroic effort by Tim Howard, in which Howard set a World Cup record of 16 saves in a single match.

In 2013, the United States had a record year. It started poorly, with a 2-1 loss to Honduras in San Pedro Sula, but the United States rebounded to defeat Costa Rica in Denver 1-0 in a match dubbed the "Show Clasico," followed by the United States drawing Mexico in Azteca and earning the second qualification point in Mexico in history. The United States continued its strong run through June, defeating Germany 4-2 in the Centennial Match, and Jamaica, Panama, and Honduras to take a commanding lead of the Hex. The 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup took place at this point, and the United States fielded a younger team of players who were attempting to win their way into the senior squad, including Landon Donovan who was coming off of a sabbatical from the sport at the time. The United States won every game they played in the tournament, defeating Panama 1-0 in the Final to take the cup. The United States continued its win streak by defeating Bosnia-Herzegovina, but lost to Belgium to end their win streak at 13. The USA lost to Costa Rica, but defeated Mexico 2-0 in the Hex to seal a trip to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The United States then ended their year strong, defeating Jamaica and Panama to close out 2013, and Klinsmann was given a 4-year extension to his contract.

Under Klinsmann's leadership, the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying cycle went very well for the United States, as did the friendlies during that period. The United States defeated Mexico 1-0 in the Azteca Stadium for the first time in history in 2012. The United States also defeated Italy in Italy, at the time the number 3 team in the world, marking it the first time in history the USA defeated a Top 4 opponent on their soil. The second stage of CONCACAF World Cup Qualification ended with the USA topping its group of 4, Jamaica taking 2nd.

The 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup was supposed to be a rebound for the United States, and for a time they looked to do very well. When they reached the Final, they found themselves against Mexico, where they went up 2-0 at halftime. However, they let the lead slip and lost 3-2. After this defeat, Bob Bradley was relieved of his position as manager. Not long after, Jurgen Klinsmann, former Bayern Munich and Germany manager, was hired.

The United States qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup atop their group, and they were drawn into Group C with England, Slovenia, and Algeria. Despite an early goal by Steven Gerrard, the USA drew 1-1 with England in their first match after a sloppy save by Rob Green off Clint Dempsey bounced off his hands and rolled into the goal. Against Slovenia, the United States found themselves down 2-0 quickly, and managed to tie the game at 2-2. They would have won, except a Michael Bradley goal was wrongly disallowed, and the game ended at the 2-2 scoreline. In their third and final group stage game against Algeria, Landon Donovan scored in the 91st minute to win the game 1-0 for the USA, winning the group. They played Ghana next, where they lost in Extra Time 2-1 and bowed out of the tournament.

In the quarterfinals, the United States defeated Panama 2–1 after extra time. In the semifinals the U.S. faced Honduras for the second time in the tournament, and the third time in less than two months. The United States beat Honduras 2–0 and advanced to its third consecutive Gold Cup final where the team faced Mexico in a rematch of the 2007 Gold Cup final. The United States was beaten by Mexico 5–0, surrendering its 58-match unbeaten streak against CONCACAF opponents on U.S. soil. It was also the first home loss to Mexico since 1999.

Only a few days after the Confederations Cup Final, the United States hosted the 2009 Gold Cup, and was drawn into Group B with Grenada, Haiti, and Honduras. Due to the fact that the U.S. had just played in the Confederations Cup and still had half of its World Cup qualifying campaign to go, Bob Bradley chose a side consisting of mostly reserves who had never really played together on the international stage and was criticized for selecting a "B Side" for the Continental tournament.[31] The U.S. began group play with a pair of victories over Grenada and Honduras, and won the group with a draw against Haiti.

In the semifinals, the U.S. defeated Spain 2–0.[29] At the time, Spain was atop the FIFA World Rankings and was on a record run of 15 straight wins and 35 games undefeated (a record shared with Brazil). With the win, the United States advanced to its first-ever final in a men's FIFA tournament; however, the team lost 3–2 to Brazil after leading 2–0 at half-time.[30]

In Summer 2009, the United States had one of the busiest stretches in its history. For the 2009 Confederations Cup the U.S. was drawn into Group B with Brazil, Egypt, and Italy. After losing 3–1 to Italy and 3–0 to Brazil, the United States made an unlikely comeback to finish second in the group and reach the semi-final on the second tie-breaker, goals scored, having scored four goals to Italy's three. This was achieved on the final day of group play when the United States beat Egypt 3–0 while Brazil beat Italy 3–0.[28]

One of the hallmarks of Bradley's tenure as national team manager has been his willingness to cap a large number of players, many for their first time. This practice has been praised by those wanting to see a more diverse player pool for the national team, as well as criticized by those hoping for more consistency and leadership from core players.[27] This has coincided with many young American players like Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu, Brad Guzan, Eddie Johnson, and Michael Parkhurst making their first moves from MLS to European clubs, meaning that more American players are gaining experience at the highest levels of club and international soccer than at any other time in the team's history.

The team's disappointing Copa América 2007 campaign ended after three defeats in the group stage to Argentina, Paraguay, and Colombia. The decision by U.S. Soccer to field what many considered a second-tier team was questioned by fans and media alike.[26]

The U.S. won all three of its group stage matches, against Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, and El Salvador. With a 2–1 win over Panama in the quarterfinals, the U.S. advanced to face Canada in the semifinals, winning 2–1. In the final, the United States came from behind to beat Mexico 2–1.[25]

After failing to maintain his 2002 success at the 2006 World Cup, Bruce Arena was eventually replaced by his assistant with the national team and Chivas USA manager, Bob Bradley, whose reign began with four wins and one draw in friendlies leading up to the 2007 Gold Cup, hosted by the United States.

2000 -- present

In 1988, U.S. Soccer attempted to re-implement its national-team-as-club concept, offering contracts to national team players in order to build an international team with something of a club ethos, while loaning them out to their club teams, saving U.S. Soccer the expense of their salaries. This brought many key veterans back to the team, while the success of the NASL a decade earlier had created an influx of talent from burgeoning grass-roots level clubs and youth programs. Thus U.S. Soccer sought to establish a more stable foundation for participation in the 1990 World Cup than had existed for previous tournaments.

In the last game of the qualifying tournament, the U.S. needed only a draw against Costa Rica, whom the U.S. had beaten 3–0 in the Olympics the year before, in order to reach the final qualification group against Honduras and Canada. U.S. Soccer scheduled the game to be played at El Camino College in Torrance, California, an area with many Costa Rican expatriates, and marketed the game almost exclusively to the Costa Rican community, even providing Costa Rican folk dances as halftime entertainment.[24] A 35th-minute goal by Evaristo Coronado won the match for Costa Rica and kept the United States from reaching its fourth World Cup finals.

The United States did bid to host the 1986 World Cup after Colombia withdrew due to economic concerns. However, Mexico beat out the U.S. and Canada to host the tournament, despite concerns that the tournament would have to be moved again because of a major earthquake that hit Mexico shortly before the tournament.

By the end of 1984, the NASL had folded and there was no senior outdoor soccer league operating in the United States.[23] As a result, many top American players, such as John Kerr, Paul Caligiuri, Eric Eichmann, and Bruce Murray, moved overseas, primarily to Europe.

U.S. Soccer made the decision to target the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California and the 1986 World Cup as means of rebuilding the national team and its fan base. The International Olympic Committee provided what appeared to be a major boost to the United States' chances of advancing beyond the group stage when it declared that Olympic teams from outside Europe and South America could field full senior teams as long as those senior players had never played in a World Cup, including professionals. U.S. Soccer immediately rearranged its Olympic roster, cutting many collegiate players and replacing them with professionals. Despite this, the U.S. finished 1–1–1 and failed to make the second round.

From 1981 to 1983, only two international matches were played. To provide a more stable national team program and renew interest in the NASL, U.S. Soccer entered the national team into the league for the 1983 season as Team America. This team lacked the continuity and regularity of training that conventional clubs enjoy, and many players were unwilling to play for the team instead of their own clubs. Embarrassingly, Team America finished the season at the bottom of the league. Recognizing that it had not achieved its objectives, U.S Soccer canceled this experiment, and the national team was withdrawn from the NASL.

After the enthusiasm caused by the creation and rise of the North American Soccer League in the 1970s, it seemed as though the U.S. men's national team would soon become a powerful force in world soccer. Such hopes were not realized, however, and the United States was not considered a strong side in this era.

1970s -- 1990s

Due to FIFA not wanting interference with the newly founded 1936 Olympic Games.

Having reached the semifinals with the two wins, the American side lost 6–1 to Argentina. Using the overall tournament records, FIFA credited the U.S. with a third-place finish ahead of fellow semi-finalist Yugoslavia.[22] The finish remains the team's best World Cup result and is the highest finish of any team from outside of CONMEBOL and UEFA, the South American and European confederations, respectively.

In the next match, the United States earned a 3–0 victory over Paraguay. For many years, FIFA credited Bert Patenaude with the first and third goals and his teammate Tom Florie with the second.[17] Other sources described the second goal as having been scored by Patenaude[18][19] or by Paraguayan Ramon Gonzales.[20] In November 2006, FIFA announced that it had accepted evidence from "various historians and football fans" that Patenaude scored all three goals, and was thus the first person to score a hat trick in a World Cup finals tournament.[21]

In the 1930 World Cup, the U.S. finished third, beating Belgium 3–0 at Estadio Gran Parque Central in Montevideo, Uruguay. The match occurred simultaneously with another across town at Estadio Pocitos where France defeated Mexico.


The US national squad at 1930 FIFA World Cup.

Men's national team

Collegiate soccer

Modern professional age

The 1980s and the 1994 FIFA World Cup

On March 28, 1985, the NASL suspended operations for the 1985 season, when only the Minnesota Strikers and Toronto Blizzard were interested in playing.

Also, FIFA's decision to award the hosting of the 1986 FIFA World Cup to Mexico after Colombia withdrew, rather than the U.S., is considered a factor in the NASL's demise.

Over-expansion was a huge factor in the death of the league. Once the league started growing, new franchises were awarded quickly, and it doubled in size in a few years, peaking at 24 teams. Many have suggested that cash-starved existing owners longed for their share of the expansion fee charged of new owners, even though Forbes Magazine reported this amount as being only $100,000. This resulted in the available personnel being spread too thinly, among other problems. Additionally, many of these new owners were not "soccer people", and once the perceived popularity started to decline, they got out as quickly as they got in. They also spent millions on aging stars to try to match the success of the Cosmos, and lost significant amounts of money in doing so.

Decline and collapse of the NASL

The biggest club in the league and the organization's bellwether was the New York Cosmos, who drew upwards of 40,000 fans per game at their height while aging superstars Pelé (Brazil) and Franz Beckenbauer (Germany) played for them. Although both were past their prime by the time they joined the NASL, the two were considered to have previously been the best attacking (offensive) (Pelé) and defensive (Beckenbauer) players in the world. Giants Stadium sold out (73,000+) their 1978 championship win.

Pele and the New York Cosmos

In 1967, two professional soccer leagues started in the United States: the FIFA-sanctioned United Soccer Association, which consisted of entire European and South American teams brought to the US and given local names, and the unsanctioned National Professional Soccer League. The National Professional Soccer League had a national television contract in the U.S. with the CBS television network, but the ratings for matches were unacceptable even by weekend daytime standards and the arrangement was terminated. The leagues merged in 1968 to form the North American Soccer League (NASL). It has been suggested that the timing of the merge was related to the huge amount of attention given throughout the English-speaking world to the victory by England in the 1966 FIFA World Cup and the resulting documentary film, Goal.[16] The league lasted until the 1984 NASL season.

Rise of the original NASL

Second professional age

In spite of the decline in the sport's popularity, several pockets of the country, primarily the Heartland and New England regions, as well as the New York City and St. Louis metropolitan areas, continued to see excessive popularity of the sport, specifically with ethnic groups and expatriates. The popularity of soccer in these areas reflected on the Challenge Cup during the later Great Depression years, through the World War II years. Most clubs participating were either top amateur teams or semi-professional clubs that hoisted a handful of U.S. internationals, who worked part-time jobs.

As the Great Depression intensified, the original ASL folded following the Fall 1932 season, which was its 15th season in existence. At the apex of the Depression, several surviving clubs created an incarnation of the ASL which began play in 1933, but the stringent economy suffered the ability for ASL teams to field strong teams, and caused team to not have the financial means nor interest to attract foreign players. This consequently caused a dark age of soccer in which the sport as well as the National Challenge Cup fell out of popularity and into obscurity.[15]

Just two weeks following the United States Football Association and American Soccer League settlement, the stock market crashed. The abrupt and intense economic impact drastically affected the ASL in the league's Spring 1930 season, in which several clubs defaulted during the season, and clubs did not finish the season with the same amount of matches played. Initially, the struggles in ASL did not affect the league's stronger clubs, as the Fall River Marksmen completed the double by winning both the 1930 season and the 1930 National Challenge Cup.[14]

Players of Stix, Baer and Fuller, who were dominante in the Challenge Cup in the 1930s

Decline of sport, amateur era

Support for the USFA from other national federations, along with financial disadvantages the ASL faced as an unsanctioned league, eventually convinced the ASL that it could not win this "soccer war" and should yield. The "war" between the USFA and ASL was finally settled in early October 1929.[8] During that time the ASL had already begun its 1929-30 season, halted during the settlement.[11] Thanks to the settlement, the ASL was assembled back together, and played the remainder of the 1929–30 year until the moniker "Atlantic Coast League".[13]

The problem with this system was the fact that the American Soccer League was operating under a closed league model with a fixed number of franchises.[9] This new tournament, or playoffs, would permanently cap the number of clubs entering this premier competition, unlike the National Challenge Cup, which the tournament was open to any USFA-affiliated team. Due to such reasons, three teams, Bethlehem Steel, the New York Giants S.C. and the Newark Skeeters, rejected the proposal, played in the 1928 National Challenge Cup[10] and were subsequently suspended from the league and fined $1,000.[8][9] Hence the ASL's decision, the USFA suspended the ASL which ignited the "Soccer Wars".[11][12] In the 1928–29 American Soccer League, the Steel, Giants and Skeeters did not play in the ASL and joined local semi-professional leagues agglommerating to form the Eastern Professional Soccer League.[11]

With the hope of breaking away from the National Challenge Cup, Charles Stoneham,[8] an owner of the New York Nationals proposed that the ASL would create their own tournament to determine the champion of the ASL, and thus ultimately determine the top American soccer club. This was the creation of early forms of playoffs culminating a regular season. Additionally, the proposal included expanding into the Midwest to include clubs from the Ohio River Valley and St. Louis regions, and create a new division for these clubs. Stoneham's plan involved having the two divisions compete in their own season, and the top clubs in each division playing in the ASL tournament to determine the ASL champion. Before the proposal, the National Challenge Cup was seen as the ultimate title in American soccer since most professional leagues in the United States focused on a specific region, rather than encompassing the entire country as a whole.[8]

In 1927, the issue intensified as ASL clubs were accused by FIFA for signing European players who were already under contract to European clubs. Due to the conflict and apparent corruption in the ASL, USFA president (at the time), Andrew M. Brown traveled to Helsinki, Finland for the 1927 FIFA Congress in the hopes of removing any penalizations imposed on the ASL and USFA.[8] Other issues regarding the soccer league involved the closed league model and the lack of American soccer players dominating the league. It resulted in ASL owners wanting to run their soccer clubs more like Major League Baseball teams, as many ASL owners owned MLB franchises. According to owners of ASL clubs, they saw these rulings as restrictions imposed on themselves, including the National Challenge Cup.[9]

The initial issue with the ASL had been the scheduling of the National Challenge Cup, which had been straining for the ALS season schedule. Typically, the National Challenge Cup had been played during the ASL's offseason, which made it difficult for ASL clubs to compete in the tournament. Consequently, the ASL boycotted the 1925 Challenge Cup due to scheduling conflicts, and the lack of cooperation the USFA inflicted on the ASL. American soccer historians claim that the real issue was the ASL vying to be the premier soccer body in the United States.[8]

Towards the later portions of the 1920s a period in American soccer known as the "American Soccer Wars" ignited. The Soccer Wars regarded the internal conflicts with the American Soccer League and their affiliated clubs participating in the National Challenge Cup. The debate involved whether the United States Football Association or the American Soccer League was the true chief organization of American soccer at the time, and consequently wrecked the reputation and possibly even the popularity of the sport domestically. The colloquial "war" has been considered responsible for the fall of the ASL, and the end to the first golden age of American soccer.[8]

Soccer Wars

First teams

In October 1911, a competing body, the United States Football Association, presently known as the United States Soccer Federation. FIFA quickly granted a provisional membership and USFA began exerting its influence on the sport. This led to the establishment of the National Challenge Cup that fall. The National Challenge Cup quickly grew to overshadow the American Cup. However, both cups were played simultaneously for the next ten years. Declining respect for the AFA led to the withdrawal of several associations from its cup in 1917. Further competition came in 1924 when USFA created the National Amateur Cup. That spelled the death knell for the American Cup. It played its last season in 1924.

Within a year of its founding, the AFA organized the first non-league cup in U.S. soccer history, known as the American Cup. Clubs from New Jersey and Massachusetts dominated the first twelve years. It would not be until 1897 that a club from outside those two states won the American Cup. Philadelphia Manz brought the title to Pennsylvania for the first time. Due to internal conflicts within the AFA, the cup was suspended in 1899, and it was not resumed until 1906. The conflicts within the AFA led to a movement to create a truly national body to oversee American soccer. Drawing on both its position as the oldest soccer organization and the status of the American Cup, the AFA argued that it should be the nationally recognized body.

USFA vs. AFA, FIFA sanctioning

Before the creation of the American Football Association (AFA) which was incarnated in 1884. The AFA sought to standardize rules for teams competing in northern New Jersey and southern New York. Within two years, this region began to widen to include teams in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts and Texas.[7]

The Fall River Rovers were among the few clubs to win both the National Challenge Cup and the American Cup.

Attempts at soccer governing body

The team consisted of a group of Boston secondary school students from relatively elite public (state) schools in the area, such as Boston Latin School and the English High School of Boston. Organization served the club well, and it reportedly never lost a game, or even allowed a single goal.

The Oneida Football Club was established in 1862 by Gerrit Smith "Gat" Miller, a graduate of the Latin School of Epes Sargent Dixwell, a private college preparatory school in Boston.[6] At the time there were no formal rules for football games, with different schools and areas playing their own variations. This informal style of play was often chaotic and very violent, and Miller had been a star of the game while attending Dixwell. However, he grew tired of these disorganized games, and organized other recent preparatory school graduates to join what would be the first organized football team in the United States.

Oneida Football Club, and other organized teams

Club soccer

Men's soccer

Pasuckuakohowog which literally translates to "they gather to play ball with the foot."[2] There are records that show it was played in the 17th century. But many believe they played long before. The game was played on beaches with goals about a half-mile-wide and set one mile apart.[3] Up to 500 people played Pasuckuakohowog, many games had up to 1000 players. Pasuckuakohowog was a dangerous game and was played almost like a war. Players would often have to quit due broken bones or other serious injuries. Pasuckuakohowog players wore ornaments and war paint to disguise themselves from retaliation after the game. The game would often last for hours and sometimes carry over to the next day. After each match there would be a large celebratory feast, including both teams.[4][5]



  • 'Pasuckuakohowog' 1
  • Men's soccer 2
    • Club soccer 2.1
      • Oneida Football Club, and other organized teams 2.1.1
      • Attempts at soccer governing body 2.1.2
      • USFA vs. AFA, FIFA sanctioning 2.1.3
      • Soccer Wars 2.1.4
      • Decline of sport, amateur era 2.1.5
      • Second professional age 2.1.6
        • Rise of the original NASL
        • Pele and the New York Cosmos
        • Decline and collapse of the NASL
      • The 1980s and the 1994 FIFA World Cup 2.1.7
      • Modern professional age 2.1.8
    • Collegiate soccer 2.2
    • Men's national team 2.3
      • 1930s 2.3.1
      • 1970s -- 1990s 2.3.2
      • 2000 -- present 2.3.3
  • Women's soccer 3
    • Changes 3.1
    • Timeline 3.2
      • 1980s 3.2.1
      • 1991 Women's World Cup 3.2.2
      • 1995 3.2.3
      • 1996 Summer Olympics 3.2.4
      • 1999 World Cup 3.2.5
      • 2003 3.2.6
      • 2003 World Cup 3.2.7
      • 2004 Summer Olympics 3.2.8
      • 2013 3.2.9
    • Sport Impact 3.3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

However, some variations of soccer in the United States began well before than, with Native American tribes, primarily the Algonkin and Powhatan tribes playing a variation of the sport known as pasuckuakohowog. Pasuckuakohowog, literally meaning "kicking ball sport" was reported to be played on fields a half mile in diameter and as long as nearly a mile. Teams would have nearly 100 people. Some believe that the Pilgrims played this sport during the original Thanksgiving festivities.


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