viernes, 24 de enero de 2014



By Carlos F.Ramírez


The USSFA (United States Soccer Football Association) was founded on April 15, 1913.  Almost immediately (1914), FIFA accepted it during their Oslo meeting.

In 1916 a national team of the United States played friendly matches in Sweden and Norway.  The First World War stopped its development but at the same time, made the game of “Soccer” more popular with the soldiers of the US Army, went to Europe to  participate in the First World War (1914-18).


Specially, the famous music composer George M. Cohan – of Irish descent – in some of his tours to entertain the US Army, recommended the practice of “soccer” football as a means to make more friends among the European allied troops.  Many of the US soldiers upon their return spread the word about the game in New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Boston, etc.


It became so popular that in 1926 visited the country an Austrian team, “Hakoah All Stars” from Vienna; in one match against a US Selection played in the famous Polo Grounds stadium (at that time “home” of the now disappeared National  League Baseball team,  NY Giants) with 46,000 fans on the stands.  (New York City was then, as today home of many European immigrants).  It is possible that this  attendance record has not been broken yet.


It is well known that immigrants from many countries of Europe arrived after the First World War by the thousands, most of them staying in the New York Area.  Some were soccer players.  The best known of that era were, Bill Gonsalvez center forward of the St. Louis Missouri team; Peter Renzulli, Italian-American from Long Island; and Archie Stark from Paterson, N.J.   Since then, to differentiate “American football” from “Football”, they added the adjective “Soccer”.  Thus the Soccer Football games were played in the New York area  in baseball stadiums  like “Polo Grounds” of New York and “Ebbets Field” of Brooklyn, and other less known fields where baseball was played.


Then when the “depression days” hit the country, 1928-1937, people had very little time or interest to play the new and exotic “Football Soccer”.  However, schools, colleges and universities kept it in their sport programs, mainly because it was an exotic, easy-to play game.  But its development was restricted to the Eastern part of the country.


Since “football soccer” started to become popular in the country, it was logical that coinciding with the wave of Europeans that emigrated to the United States before and after the First World War  the game was popularized at all levels, not only as a  collegiate sport.  Many leagues were started mainly in the Eastern part of the country, and some of the immigrants were first class football players in their countries.  In our next chapter we will remember how the USA were “pioneers” in Olympic football.
Hakoah All Stars

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