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HISTORY OF SOCCER
 
 

History of Soccer - Soccer in the USA

Soccer in the USA

T

he game of soccer in the US has a rich and stimulating history till date. The journey of soccer began from colonies in Jamestown settlement, to Harvard’s first intramural contest in 1827 to reach the present day national youth teams. It has been an exciting trip for soccer lovers in the country. The early beginning of soccer in US saw schoolboys and college teams play the sport, known as upper-lass game. It is said that the Oneida club in 1862 at Boston was the first club with regular schedule of players. Till then, soccer was a pick-up game with no clear rules. The Oneida club had secondary school students from Boston belonging to privileged public schools.

Soccer: 1862-1875

After the civil war, soccer gained wide popularity in colleges. Different schools and colleges had different game rules. Princeton had 25 players, while some others even played soccer with innings like in volley ball game. Beadle & Company of New York first published a rulebook in 1866 for ‘association football’, known as soccer and also for handling game (rugby). Soccer became famous in Yale, Cornell & Columbia and also was reintroduced to Harvard in 1871. The game was a hybrid form of soccer, known as Boston game that allowed throwing and carrying of the ball.

From 1875-1894

FIFA refused an American application for membership during their 1912 congress, the speedily growing AAFA members formed the United States Football Association, which was accepted by FIFA

After the demise of college soccer in 1876, working class communities in the US adopted the game, taking on the rugby/gridiron form of soccer. It is interesting to note that this trend took place at the same time in Europe and the US. The development could be seen in New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York City, also spreading rapidly to Fall River and New Redford (MA) by 1870s. The game also clashed with the popular sport of baseball in the US, considered as American past time.

Beginning in the early 1890s, soccer witnessed an average growth in Denver, Cincinnati, Cleveland and even San Francisco and Los Angeles by the end of the century. Owing to corporate sponsorships, some leagues attained semi-pro statistics. The American League of Professional Football collapsed owing to heavy financial losses during its first season.

In 1904, FIFA was established and was seen as lack of any national organizing association in the US. After FIFA refused an American application for membership during their 1912 congress, the speedily growing AAFA members formed the United States Football Association, which was accepted by FIFA. The main aim of the association was to end the struggle between amateur and professional soccer organizations.

Three of the early dynasties of American Soccer were:

  • The Fall River Rovers- winners of the American Cup in 1888 and 1889
  • Bethlehem Steel, who won the American Cup in 1914, 1916, 1917, 1918, and 1919
  • And winners of the National Challenge Cup in 1915, 1916, 1918, and 1919

The 1920s are popularly known as the golden era in the history of American soccer. The establishment of American Soccer League in 1921 was a mark as there was now a league that could compete with European players.

In 1930, the US participated in the first World Cup in Uruguay, and the teams from Atlantic Coast league subjugated the roster. The roster by now had added famous players like Bert Patenaude and Billy Gonsalves who performed well both in the World Cup and all through the 1930's.

In the 1950s, the US National team returned to the World Cup with a magnificent victory over England with a goal by Joe Gaetjens. The 1970s saw soccer being flocked with participation from the youth and 1980s saw a downfall for soccer in the US. With the decline of the NASL in 1984, and the abrupt end of the United Soccer League in 1985, only the Western Soccer League, which had just finished its first season, remained playing outdoor soccer, with four surviving teams. The 1994 World Cup is considered the biggest moment in the history of American soccer.

The period from 2001-2004 also witnessed constructive changes for women soccer in USA. In 2001, the Women’s United Soccer Association was launched. Without delay, the Association established itself as the leading women’s league in the world of women soccer


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