Posted on May 9, 2012 12:04 am
None of these items is long enough to build an entire blog entry around. So here they are just as odd facts, footnotes in American soccer history.
—The United States team’s trip to the 1930 World Cup was a 12-week expedition that included nine games, three in the World Cup in Uruguay and six more Uruguay and Brazil after the World Cup. Despite the length of that trip, the United States roster included only one goalkeeper, Jimmy Douglas. Douglas suffered a knee injury just four minutes into the United States’ World Cup semifinal game against Argentina, but the lack of another goalkeeper on the roster didn’t really matter that day, since substitutes weren’t allowed in the World Cup until 1970. However, a nine-game trip without a backup goalkeeper does seem risky.
—The 1948-49 American Soccer League season ended in a playoff game between the Philadelphia Nationals and New York Americans, to break a tie in the final standings. The playoff game was held as a preliminary to a game between an ASL all-star team and the touring Belfast Celtic team. Games against touring European teams were so vital to the ASL’s finances that when the game to decide the ASL title finished in a 3-3 tie, the overtime wasn’t played until a few hours later. The Belfast Celtic game had to be played first.
—Is soccer for the birds? Of course not, unless you count a certain game in Washington 16 years ago. On Nov. 3, 1996, the United States beat Guatemala, 2-0, in a World Cup qualifier at RFK Stadium. The two teams were joined on the field by a flock of 20 or 25 pigeons that stayed away from the play by constantly flying from one part of the field to another. Memo to stadium managers: Never put down grass seed before a game.
—Only one team has ever won the U.S. Open Cup by forfeit. That was Paterson FC of New Jersey, the 1923 champion. After a 2-2 tie in the final in Harrison, N.J., the visitors, Scullin Steel of St. Louis, decided that because of injuries, fatigue and distance from home, they were not capable of putting up an adequate performance in the replay and forfeited to Paterson.
—On June 13, 1993, Germany beat the United States, 4-3, in a soccer game at Soldier Field in Chicago that was part of a dry-run tournament being staged by the organizers of the 1994 World Cup. This game was the first ever to be shown live on English-language TV in the United States without the interruptions for commercials that had often in the past caused viewers to miss goals (sometimes the only goal of the game). ABC really lucked out this day. This was quite an auspicious time for a seven-goal outburst.
—Perhaps nothing emphasizes the contrast between the way things once were and the way they are now in American soccer quite as much as the United States national team’s arrival in Honduras for a World Cup qualifier in March 1965. The Americans were not met at the airport by a delegation from the Honduran federation the way they would be today. In fact, they weren’t met by anybody, not even a cab driver. To get to their hotel, they had to hitch a ride on a painter’s truck.