Week 6 – Early Soccer

These articles helped spread awareness about the sport of soccer struggling in its early days, especially in the United States in the turn of the 20th century. The article titled ‘A stumbling start for U.S pro soccer’ written by Roger Allaway reveals this in detail, how early soccer clubs struggled in large part due to their scheduling. Early soccer was popular to foreign-born factory workers, and the games were scheduled during weekday afternoons, meaning that none of them could attend. As Allaway put it so well, the early pro soccer clubs offer little more than to show how to not succeed with a pro sports league. I think it is interesting how many early pro soccer leagues used off-season baseball stadiums as their own playing fields, and the pro baseball teams let them. Although it is further shocking to see how these early soccer leagues completely did not understand their demographic by scheduling games during weekday afternoons. In Ed Farnsworth article titled ‘1934: USA vs. Mexico and the “little truck”’ it covers the story of the 1934 U.S men’s world cup soccer team who defeated Mexico in the qualifier round that year. Farnsworth notes that the U.S men’s world cup team would not defeat Mexico again in the world cup until 1980. Farnsworth further quotes articles from the New York Times 1934 article on the win, and how they wrote the U.S team won not because of skill but because of the U.S men being heavier and playing a more vigorous match. I found it interesting how this U.S team was seemingly haphazardly put together yet managed to defeat a team that could easily be seen as a more skilled soccer team, or organization as a whole. The growth of soccer in the United States is interesting as it seems to have grown between the two sports behemoths of the United States, football and baseball. Especially during the early 20th century football and baseball were in its early stages to becoming the sports religions of the United States today. I was surprised by the journal chapter written by Gabe Logan on the U.S Communist party established soccer clubs throughout major U.S cities from 1927 to 1935. I would have never guessed this to be a situation to occur during this time in U.S. history, especially since only around ten years earlier was the first red scare within the U.S. Despite being communist clubs, they succeeded by lasting as long as they did and I was thoroughly surprised by these early clubs often playing for charity and donating the funds made back into their communities. Lastly, the article by Stanley Kay titled ‘Pastor Keeps Story of Storied U.S. Club Bethlehem Steel Alive’ is about how Pastor Daniel Morrison brought to light the old soccer club Bethlehem Steel. Bethlehem Steel won ten league championships within fifteen seasons and eleven players are in the National Soccer Hall of Fame. I found it insane how this level of success became forgotten with time, yet one man was able to dig up its old history, which is incredibly motivating for a history buff. All these articles share similarities on the importance of early soccer and the stories that can be told from it, from massive successes to terrible failures. Looking at the popularity of soccer in the United States today it is difficult to see how it would have struggled in its professional infancy. These articles show that Soccer, like other sports, holds such a rich history that should be explored especially in its early stages and further understanding how it got to where it is at today.  

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