The Year in American Soccer – 1946

The American Soccer League

Nearly 200 ASL players had entered the armed services during World War II, and the teams had been playing with seriously decimated rosters for several years. With the conclusion of the war, players steadily returned to their teams as they were released from military service. Sadly, six players had lost their lives during the war: John Wojciechowicz of the Kearny Scots, Hans Maier of the New York Americans, Walter Patykula of the Philadelphia Americans, Jimmy Reid of Kearny Celtic, Anthony Nunez of the Brooklyn Wanderers and James Hammer of the Baltimore Americans.

In the weeks leading up to the 1945-46 season, the league was heavily involved in charity events and other efforts for the war cause: An indoor tournament at the New York City Armory sold more than $250,000 in war bonds. Teams played in several British War Relief games, USO benefits and Red Cross games. One of the B-29 warplanes was even named the “Soccer Fans Bomber”.

The league instituted new procedures for referees, leaving their selection to the league president and secretary, rather than the board of directors. They also established a system for teams to rate officials performance and make suggestions which would be nonbinding. Officials would be obligated to note the aggressor in any player altercation. Team officials and managers were forbidden from talking to or berating officials before, during or after games. Players and team officials would be forbidden from laying hands on the officials and separate locker rooms were mandated for officials. Referees were also assigned to crack down on fake injuries.

At season’s start, players were only beginning to return to their clubs; this would become a stream as the season progressed. Billy Gonsalves and Fabri Salcedo were on the roster for Hispano from the start, while fans awaited the return of John “Frenchy” Boulos and Bert Anderson, among others. The defending champs Brookhattan stayed largely pat with their roster, even enjoying the services of George Barr for a couple games while he was on furlough. Jackie Brown was discharged just soon enough to start the season for the Philadelphia Nationals, who had the most men in the services – 36 in all among all their squads, while Walter Bahr, Arnie Oliver and Ed Murphy were still overseas. Brown had been shot down in the Pacific, floating for dear life for eighteen hours before his rescue. The Baltimore Americans signed two British players, Jimmy Mutch and William Clifford. Ray McFaul, Nick Kropfelder and Johnny Eyster returned from duty early in the season and made an immediate impact. Emil Schillinger’s Philadelphia Americans had not lost as many players as the Nationals, but most entered the service later, so they stocked up with about half a dozen more to tide them over. Kearny Celtic did not expect to see some of their players (among them Artie Sheppel and Archie Ballantyne) back until midseason.

Brookhattan looked to repeat their league champion, having accomplished the first “triple” in the history of American soccer, by winning the ASL league title, the Lewis Cup (league cup) and the National Challenge Cup in the same season. But they got off to a slow start and soon found themselves in the cellar, with the Wanderers and Hispano taking the early lead. The Baltimore Americans began to make their presence known as their roster returned to full strength, and they were soon gunning for the lead. Hispano briefly took the lead as the Wanderers faded, being surpassed by Baltimore and the Kearny Scots. The race took some interesting turns with the Scots following the Wanderers down the chart while Kearny Celtic made their own run. But it was the Americans, led by their prolific scorer Ray McFaul (league’s top scorer) who finally prevailed in a close three-team race to take the league title. Brooklyn Hispano, who came up 2 points short, won the Lewis Cup. The Philadelphia teams both suffered from the continued unavailability of their players who were in the service, and finished near the cellar, just ahead of the hapless Baltimore SC.

Kearny Scots and Kearny Celtic both launched junior teams, and encouraged the league to consider establishing them league wide, but the idea did not take off. Two initiatives for inter-league competition came under discussion this season. The first was a proposal for a regular international series between the top ASL teams and the John Inglis and Ulster United teams of Canada. This was put off due to conflicts between the US (September – April) and Canadian (May – November) seasons, and the idea was eventually abandoned.

The other project began as an unsuccessful bid from Fred Wieszmann to launch an ASL team in Chicago. Although Weiszmann’s track record as a Chicago presence was well known, his application was deemed too tentative for immediate acceptance. The league was willing to help him promote soccer in the Midwest but felt he should work towards developing an entire Midwestern division for the league. Fred in fact took the Midwestern concept to heart and ended up establishing an entirely independent league operating in the Midwest which took to the field in the spring of 1946 (See the NASFL below).

The ASL revived the tradition of bringing over major European clubs to tour the United States, with the appearance of Liverpool in a highly successful series of exhibition matches (see below).

                         Final League Standings, 1945-46

                              G    W   T   L   GF  GA  PTS
Baltimore Americans          20   13   3   4   61  40   29
Brooklyn Hispano             20   12   3   5   54  34   27
Kearny Celtic                20   10   5   5   50  46   25
Brooklyn Wanderers           20    8   6   6   49  46   22
New York Americans           20    9   3   8   53  44   21
Kearny Scots                 20    9   3   8   42  47   21
Brookhattan                  20    7   3  10   55  51   17
Philadelphia Americans       19    6   4   9   41  38   16
Philadelphia Nationals       20    5   5  10   36  44   15
Baltimore S.C.               19    2   1  16   32  82    5

LEAGUE CHAMPION:  Baltimore Americans
LEWIS CUP CHAMPION:  Brooklyn Hispano

LEADING SCORER:  Fabri Salcedo, Brooklyn Hispano (24 goals)  

Most Valuable Player: Ray McFaul, Baltimore Americans

North American Soccer Football League

Fred Weiszmann, the owner of the successful Chicago Maroons club had made an application to enter a team in the American Soccer League for the 1946-47 season. The ASL declined his application based on the lack of details, but recognized his success in the Windy City, suggesting that he work on establishing a Midwest division for the following season. Weiszmann went a step father, establishing an independent professional league, the first to be established on a regional basis outside of the northeastern US. Weiszmann teamed up with his cross-town rivals, the Vikings, as well as with Pittsburgh Strasser, a successful West Penn team, and an outfit in Detroit, the Wolverines. The John Inglis Club of Toronto, involved in the failed attempt to establish an ASL-Canada international series, was interested, but was denied permission by the Canadian Association to join the new venture. The Toronto Greenbacks were invited in their place to complete the lineup.

The Maroons, Strassers and Vikings had had success in both the National Challenge Cup and the National Amateur Cup, and the league boasted some well known players, including Hall of Famer Nick D’Orio, as well as Gil Heron, one of the earliest African-American players in US soccer. The Maroons moved to Wrigley Field for the season, and the Vikings set up shop at Comiskey Park. The Detroit Wolverines, on the strength of Gil Heron’s scoring prowess, won the first league title with a 5-1-2 record, leading the league with 29 goals. However, the Greenbacks defeated them in a post game series. The Vikings did not fare well for the season, but they did go on to win the National Challenge Cup, defeat Ponta Delgada of Fall River, MA 1-1, 2-1.

Crowds were in the 1,500 to 3,500 range; modest, if larger than for typical amateur and semi-pro contests. But not nearly enough to support professional salaries and all the teams lost substantial amount of money. Weiszmann retired as president to devote more time to his Maroons and Leslie O’Connor, VP and general manager of the Chicago White Sox took over the reins while Weiszmann opened up his pocket book to put together the best team he could afford for the following season.

                         Final League Standings, 1946

                      GP   W   D   L   GF  GA  PTS
Detroit Wolverines     8   5   1   2   29  25  11
Toronto Greenbacks     8   5   0   3   23  16  10
Chicago Maroons        8   4   0   4   19  21   8
Pittsburgh Strassers   8   3   0   5   23  26   6
Chicago Vikings        8   2   1   5   22  28   5

Final:  Toronto defeated Detroit 3-0, __-__.
(final scheduled as two-leg series, it is uncertain whether the second game was played.)

Leading scorers:
Gil Heron, Detroit       15
Pete Matevich, Maroons    7
Roscoe Anderson, Vikings  7
Harry Pitchok, Pittsburgh 7
Harry Phillips, Toronto   5
Alex Boiseerie, Maroons   4
Freddy McCusker, Toronto  4 

Amateur League and Cup Champions

New York Senior State Challenge Cup: SC Eintracht
Dr. Manning Challenge Cup (New York): Prague B
German-American League (New York): SC Eintracht (Major Division), Schnectady FC (First Division)
Eastern District League (NY): Hakoah (Premier Division); Maccabi (A Division)
Metropolitan Soccer League (NYC): Bronx Scots; Metropolitan Challenge Cup: Gjoa
New Jersey State Cup: (no competition)
Rowland Cup (Maryland State): John Hasslinger
Stewart Cup (Maryland Amateur): John Hasslinger
West Penn Challenge Cup: Morgan Strasser
Keystone League (Pittsburgh: Heidelberg
Peel Cup (Illinois State Cup): Chicago Sparta
St. Louis Municipal League: Raftery
California Association Senior Challenge Cup: Olympic
John O. Belis Perpetual Trophy: Verdi

The US National Team

The National Team was inactive this year.

International Tours

Puentes Grandes of Cuba: September 8, 1946 through September 22, 1946. Record: 3 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss.

Roster: Alvarez, Barquin, Brioso, Garcia, Gonzalez, Lierand, J. Minsal, M. Minsal, Oliveira, Ovide, Veiga, Vinyets.

9/8/46   Puentes Grandes 2, New Jersey ASL Stars 1 (at Kearny, NJ)
9/13/46  Puentes Grandes 1, Pittsburgh Stars 1 (at Pittsburgh)
9/15/46  Puentes Grandes 1, Brookhattan-Hispano 2 (at New York City)
9/17/46  Puentes Grandes 2, New England Stars 1 (at Fall River, MA)
9/22/46  Puentes Grandes 1, Philadelphia Stars 0 (at Philadelphia)

Liverpool of England: May 12 1946 through June 11, 1946 (results: 10 wins, 0 draws, 0 losses)

Roster: Jack Palmer, Cyril Done, Harry Eastman, William Fagan, James Harley, Laurie Hughes, William Jones, Berry Niewwenhuys, Robert Paisley, Robert Priday, Bernard Ramaden, Ken Seddon, Cyril Sidlow, Edwin Spicer, Philip Taylor. Manager: George Kay; Trainer: Albert Shelley.

5/12 46   Liverpool 3, New York Stars 1 (at New York City)
5/15/46   Liverpool 9, Baltimore Stars 0 (at Baltimore)
5/19/46   Liverpool 5, American League stars 0 (at new York City)
5/22/46   Liverpool 3, New England Stars 2 (at Fall River)
5/26/46   Liverpool 12, Philadelphia Stars 0 (at Philadelphia)
5/31/46   Liverpool 5, St. Louis Stars 1 (at St. Louis)
6/2/46    Liverpool 9, Chicago Stars 3 (at St. Louis)
6/5/46    Liverpool 11, Ulster United 1 (at Toronto)
6/9/46    Liverpool 3, Kearny Stars 1 (at Kearny, NJ)
6/11/46   Liverpool 10, American League stars 1 (at Brooklyn, NY)

The College Game

1946 College Conference Champions:

Intercollegiate Soccer Football Association (ISFA): Springfield College
California Intercollegiate Soccer Conference: California
Mason-Dixon Conference: Johns Hopkins
Middle Atlantic Intercollegiate Soccer League:  Penn, Princeton
Middle Atlantic States Athletic Conference: Swarthmore
New England Intercollegiate Soccer League: Springfield

College All-American Squad, 1946:

Goal               Tyree, Army
Right Fullback     Fancher, Dartmouth
Left Fullback      Barlow, Temple
Right Halfback     Hartman, Penn State
Center Halfback    Van Breda Kolff, Princeton
Left Halfback      Laverson, Temple
Outside Right      Molnar, Lehigh
Inside Right       Hamilton, Penn State
Center Forward     Jones, Haverford
Inside Left        McLaughlin, Temple
Outside Left       Blair, Pennsylvania

Other Results

1946 National Challenge Cup Final: Chicago Vikings defeated Fall River Ponta Delgada 2-1 on July 14, after drawing 1-1 on July 7.

1946 National Amateur Cup Final: On July 21, Fall River Ponta Delgada defeated Castle Shannon of Pittsburgh 5-2.

National Junior Cup: Schumacher S.C., St. Louis