The Year in American Soccer – 1947

The American Soccer League

The American Soccer League finally returned to full strength with the final influx of players returning from military service. The defending champion Baltimore Americans said goodbye to four of their best players, including center forward Charlie Ernst, fullback Leo Winterling, and left winger Bill Schwanke, in order to strengthen the struggling Baltimore SC. Brooklyn Hispano could only count on goalkeeper Gene Olaff on alternating weeks due to his progress at the State Troopers’ Training School, and were dealing with a brief holdout by star scorer Fabri Salcedo; otherwise, their roster remained fairly intact. The strong Philadelphia Americans kept many of their previous season’s players, including Werner Meith, Dutch Christian, Jack Trotter and Serville Mervine. Longtime player Bob Nichol took over from Emil Schillinger as head coach. Brooklyn Wanderers featured an extensive crop of newcomers from the English and Northern Ireland leagues, including halfback Ed O’Connell, left halfback Tom Hasson and inside right John Neill. Many 2nd tier teams made extensive changes to their roster in a major effort to escape the league basement.

Administrative changes were in store, as Jim McGuire replaced Jim Kelly as league president, and Ed Duffy, longtime secretary stepped back due to health concerns, with his duties taken on by treasurer Frank Jenkionson. Erno Schwarz took on the vice presidential duties. The league adopted a 14 man roster with re-substitution; teams would carry three substitutes, but they would be in fact alternates, and garner more playing time. The league also adopted the “T-Ball” as the league standard, players would no longer have to constantly adjust to the ball of the week. Six teams moved into new stadiums this year, with the opening of Sterling Oval in the Bronx, Hawthorne Field in Brooklyn and Cambria Stadium in Philadelphia. This season, the league finally had tome night game success, with matches at Kearney and practice sessions under the new lights at Sterling Oval, leading to the possibility of regular night games in the future, and serious talk about a summer night season involving the Metropolitan New York teams.

The Philadelphia Americans took an early lead in the standings, but a surging Brooklyn Wanderers were only 1 game behind by mid-season. This horse race continued well into March at which point, the A’s took off, winning the league season (and the accompanying Schroeder Cup) by a comfortable six points. The Wanderers had to settle for 2nd place, closely followed by a surging Brooklyn Hispano, and the fading former champions, Baltimore Americans, who went on to win the Lewis Cup.

                         Final League Standings, 1946-47

Before the season, Kearny Scots were added.

                              G    W   T   L   GF  GA  PTS
Philadelphia Americans       20   14   3   3   56  26   31
Brooklyn Wanderers           20   10   5   5   56  41   25
Brooklyn Hispano             20   10   2   8   48  38   22
Baltimore Americans          19    9   4   6   44  42   22
Kearny Scots                 20    7   5   8   32  42   19
New York Americans           19    8   2   9   38  42   18
Kearny Celtic                19    6   5   8   27  30   17
Philadelphia Nationals       18    6   3   9   45  44   15
Brookhattan                  20    5   3  12   31  49   13
Baltimore S.C.               15    3   2  10   19  39    8

LEAGUE CHAMPION:  Philadelphia Americans
LEWIS CUP WINNER:  Baltimore Americans

After the season, Kearny Scots withdrew.

                                    GP   G
Bill Fisher (Wanderers)             19  17
John O'Connell (Wanderers)          15  16
Sol Eisner (NY Americans)           19  14
Pete McNab (Hispano)                20  14
Ray Kelly (Phil. Americans)         20  14
Len Oliver (Phil. Nationals)        18  13
Bob Glosson (Phil. Nationals)       17  12
Bob Gormley (Phil. Americans)       19  12
Ray McFaul (Balt. Americans)        18  12
Alec Rae (Brookhattan)              16  11

Most Valuable Player (Eastern Soccer News): Servile Mervine, Philadelphia Americans

North American Soccer Football League:

The NASFL began the second season with a new team, the St. Louis Raiders and some new team names for returning sides. The league adopted a split season with the first half running through June. The league almost didn’t make it that far. Major financial problems abounded with teams struggling under high travel costs. To make matters worse, a struggle for power erupted between top administrators. When it was revealed that the Maroons were running a $75,000 deficit, the league abruptly suspended play to allow teams to get their finances into shape. Eventually league play resumed and the 10-game first half was finished. Pittsburgh defeated Toronto 3-2, 3-2 for the first half league title (they had already won in the standings as well).

The second half was primarily scheduled for September-October, although a couple games were played during July and August that would count in the standings. The league had been renamed the American Professional Soccer League, according to the Pittsburgh press. A schedule was laid out for the second half, but by then the Chicago Maroons (now Wolverines) and Vikings had withdrawn. The results of the 2nd half are somewhat sketchy; teams were to play six game schedules. Detroit never did play its games, and the league collapsed at some point during this second half. Surviving teams went back to their former leagues (The Maroons and Vikings still exist today in 2005, and the Raiders exist as Kutis, with a long and successful amateur history). Thus was the quick end to the first professional league in the US that made a true attempt to cover a large geographic region of the country. A noble effort, but perhaps a couple decades ahead of its time.

                         Final League Standings, 1947

Before the season, St. Louis was added, Pittsburgh became the Indians,
Detroit became the Pioneers, and Chicago Maroons became the Wolverines.  

                         First Half

                       GP   W   D   L   GF  GA  PTS

Pittsburgh Indians     10   5   1   4   18  16  14
Toronto Greenbacks     10   6   2   2   26  18  11
St. Louis Raiders      10   4   3   3   20  19  11
Chicago Wolverines     10   3   4   3   16  12   9
Detroit Pioneers       10   2   5   3   13  21   7
Chicago Vikings        10   2   7   1   10  17   5

FINAL:  Pittsburgh defeated Toronto 3-2, 3-2.

                        Second Half

A few games were played between the remaining teams, but the league folded 
abruptly during the fall due to financial difficulties.

Leading scorers:
Harold Gunning, St. Louis      8
A. Muntz, St. Louis            7
Harry Phillips, Toronto        6
Jack Davidson, Toronto         6
Gil Heron, Chic. Wolverines    4
Walter Vagnetti, Detroit       4
Felix Mitchell, Pittsburgh     4

Amateur League and Cup Champions

Peel Cup (Illinois State Cup): Chicago Sparta
National Soccer League of Chicago: Not Available
New York State Challenge Cup: New York Sport Club
Dr. Manning Challenge Cup: Bronx Scots FC
New York State Junior Challenge Cup: Segura FC
Rowland Cup (Maryland State): Our Lady of Good Counsel; Stewart Cup: John Hasslinger
German-American Soccer League: S. C. Elizabeth
Eastern District League: New World S. C.
National Soccer League of New York: Bigelow-Sanford
Metropolitan Soccer League (NY): New York Hungarians (Challenge Cup)
New Jersey State Challenge Cup: Lithuanian
West Penn Challenge Cup: Castle Shannon
Keystone League (Pittsburgh): Castle Shannon
Washington County League (West Penn): Avella Polar Star
St. Louis Municipal League: Correnti Cleaners
California Senior Association Challenge Cup:: American Teutonia:

The US National Team

The National Team only played two full internationals this year, both in the North American Cup (see entry below).

                   1947 National team results

    1947 Totals:  0W,  0D,  2L
Jul 20 47  L 2-5  Cuba                       Havana, Cuba (NAC)
               E. Souza, Valentine
Jul 13 47  L 0-5  Mexico                     Havana, Cuba (NAC)

North American Cup

International soccer organizations were taking shape by the late 1940s. The North American Football Confederation had been recently formed, comprising Canada, Mexico and the United States (it would merge with the Caribbean and Central American Confederation in 1962 to form CONCACAF). In 1947, it staged the first North American championships (which would be reprised in 1949, 1990 and 1991). For the Americans’ part, they went for expediency, sending a national team based entirely of players from the Ponta Delgada club of Fall River, Mass. Ponta Delgada had just become the first club to win both the National Challenge Cup and the National Amateur Cup in the same season. Interestingly enough, the club featured exclusively American-born players, headed by forwards John Sousa and Edward Sousa, who weren’t related.

In the competition, Mexico defeated the USA 5-0 on July 13. Four days later, Mexico defeated Cuba 3-1 and on July 20, Cuba defeated the USA 5-2. Mexico won the tournament, and the USA finished last. Although the results were not good, the tournament did give the players valuable experience against teams they would likely play in the future.

International Tours

The highlight of the year was the visit by Hapoel of Tel-Aviv, Palestine, which broke all-time attendance records and completed the first coast-to-coast tour by a visiting foreign team. A week before the scheduled May 4 match at Yankee Stadium, 53,000 tickets had been sold, although horrific weather kept the actual attendance down to 43,177. This tour also featured possibly the first ever televised US soccer matches, both the opening game at Yankee Stadium and the farewell game at Ebbets Field bring broadcast.

Ferencvarosi (F.T.C.) of Budapest, Hungary: August 21, 1947. Record: 1 win, 0 draws, 0 losses.

Roster: Csanadi, Csikos, Hernadi, Kerl, Meszaros, Mike, Onodi, Kis Peter, Puskas, Rudas, Sarosi, Szabo, Szusza.

8/21/47  Ferenevarosi 12, New York Hungarians 1 (at Brooklyn)

Hapoel F.C. of Tel-Aviv, Palestine: May 4, 1947 through June 17, 1947. Record: 3 wins, 4 draws, 2 losses.

Roster: Aron, Ben-Zeev, Choderov, Cohen, Czeczyk, Ehrlich, Fried, Fuchs, Habibi, Kreaneansky, Meitner, Melamed, Nebenhaus, Palman, Raskin, Rosenbaum, Scwalb, Shevel, Zimmerman. Coaches: Baar, Poliakov.

5/4/47*   Hapoel 2, New York Stars 0 (at Yankee Stadium, New York)
5/11/47   Hapoel 2, Hakoah/Sparta 2 (at Chicago)
5/21/47   Hapoel 2, St. Louis Stars 2 (at St. Louis)
5/28/47   Hapoel 2, San Francisco Stars 4 (at San Francisco)
6/1/47    Hapoel 1, Los Angeles Stars 1 (at Los Angeles)
6/20/47   Hapoel 9, American League Stars 0 (at Randall's Island, New York)
6/12/47   Hapoel 1, Philadelphia Stars 0 (at Philadelphia)
6/15/47   Hapoel 1, Detroit Stars 0 (at Detroit)
6/17/47*  Hapoel 0, American League Stars 2 (at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, NY)
* = Televised

Ponta Delgada (Fall River) to Cuba: See North American Cup entry above

Roster: Jesse Braga, Jim Delgado, Joe Ferreira, Vincent Lucianno, John Machado, Joseph Machado, Manuel Martin, Joseph Michaels, Frank Moniz, Joseph Rego, Walter Romanowicz, Ed Sousa, John Sousa, John Travis, Ed Valentine, Manuel Travis. Manager: Joe Barboza.

The College Game

By 1947, the Intercollegiate Association had climbed back to over 50 members, a far cry from the 22 clubs at the end of the War. This year, Springfield completed their second consecutive sweep, while Penn swept the Middle Atlantic League which unfortunately folded after the season. But the Eastern Intercollegiate League would take its place in 1948. A large umber of top collegians participated in the first college player Olympic Tryout tournament, to select players for the 1948 Olympic squad. This year also the first serious community college participants took to the field.

1947 College Conference Champions:

Intercollegiate Soccer Football Association (ISFA): Springfield College
California Intercollegiate Soccer Conference: California
Mason-Dixon Conference: Washington College
Middle Atlantic Intercollegiate Soccer League:  Penn
Middle Atlantic States Athletic Conference: Rutgers, Bucknell
New England Intercollegiate Soccer League: Springfield

College All-American Squad, 1947:

Goal               Schaufelberger, Navy
Right Fullback     Pederson, Swarthmore
Left Fullback      Lambert, Temple
Right Halfback     Coulter, Navy
Center Halfback    Hohan, Springfield
Left Halfback      Peard, Navy
Outside Right      Whatford, Brockport
Inside Right       Hughes, Temple
Center Forward     Jones, Haverford
Inside Left        Valtin, Swarthmore
Outside Left       Rogers, Princeton

Other Results

1947 National Challenge Cup Final: Fall River Ponta Delgada defeated the NSL of Chicago’s Chicago Sparta A & BA in both legs, 6-3 on August 31 and 3-2 on September 7. They became the first club to win both the US Open (National Challenge) Cup and National Amateur Cup in the same year.

1947 National Amateur Cup Final: On May 24, Fall River Ponta Delgada defeated St. Louis Carondelets 10-1.

National Junior Cup: Heidelberg (Pa.) S.C.

USA vs. Canada club championship: Joseph Triner proposed a “Triner Cup” to pit the US and Canadian Cup winners. The Challenge Cup finished too late to allow it to happen, but a series was arranged between the Toronto All-Stars and St. Louis All-Stars, with Toronto winning 3-2, 3-3.

NSCAA Honor Award: Doug Steward, Univ. of Penn