Posted on April 15, 2013 12:06 am
—In 1921, the U.S. Soccer Federation (then called the U.S. Football Association) was thrown into turmoil when its secretary, James Scholefield, absconded with $1,200 of the organizations’ money, an amount that might not keep it supplied with paper clips for a year today. Scholefield’s predecessor, Thomas W. Cahill, was quickly brought back into the position again to supervise the righting of the ship, and said in his next annual report that “a tremendous amount of work was involved in bringing the office back to a normal course.” Obviously, $1,200 was a lot more in 1921 than it is today, but even so, this is a sign of how much smaller an operation the USSF was back then.
—Only one man played for the U.S. national team both before and after World War II. That was George Michaels from the Ponta Delgada team of Fall River, Mass. Michaels, a midfielder, was a member of the U.S. national team that visited Mexico in 1937, and played in two of the three games on that tour. In 1947, he was a member of the Ponta Delgada squad that put on U.S. uniforms and played as the national team in the North American Championships in Cuba. He played one of the U.S team’s two games in that tournament.
—It’s been fairly common in recent years for leading U.S. national team players to be former collegians, from Paul Caligiuri to Brad Friedel to Clint Dempsey. It wasn’t as common decades ago, but the trend does go back a while. The first two both made their national team debuts in the same game, against Mexico on Sept. 12, 1937. They were George Nemchik, a former Temple University player, and John McEwan, a former Syracuse University player, who both played in the American Soccer League for a number of years.
—Were American soccer teams of decades ago that were sponsored by ethnic organizations limited to players from that ethnic group? The following names, each of whom was a star of his team, might answer that question: Francis Ryan of Philadelphia German-Americans, John Wojciechowicz of Kearny Scots, Ed Murphy of Chicago Slovak, Efrain Chachurian of New York Swiss and Jorge Benitez of Los Angeles Yugoslavs.
—The number-one contribution that American soccer has made to the way soccer is organized in the rest of the world is, I think, the three-points-for-a-win system. For more than a century before the 1994 World Cup, the standard around the world was two points for a victory and one point for a tie. In 1994, the American organizers successfully lobbied FIFA to change the system for that World Cup to three points for a win and one for a tie, in order to put a premium on attacking soccer. Within a few years, the American idea had caught on around the world, replacing two points for a win as the global norm.