Our Game: An American Soccer TL

The Rise of the ASL

From the WSBN Show - The Rise of the American Soccer League, Narrated by Morgan Freeman

The ASL's darkest hour came in the so called "Soccer War" with the United States Soccer Federation. The Dispute arose over the American Cup, then called the Challenge Cup. The Challenge cup came into conflict with the ASL Season and forced the teams participating to make long, hot bus rides to far off stadiums. It didn't help that the USSF took 33.3% of the Gate Fees, lowering the pay of the players and creating a financial burden. The league owners finally snapped and announced their intent to boycott the 1924 Cup. They managed to come to an agreement with the USSF and got the Federation's cut down to 10%*. But resentment still lingered and in 1928 another boycott erupted. When three ASL teams joined anyway they were expelled from the League. The USSF appealed to FIFA who effectively declared the ASL an outlaw league**. But the ASL had a reputation, a reputation as a league with high pay and high performance and managed to maintain itself fairly well. Attendance remained high and the ASL remained only second to Major League Baseball in popularity. Attempts to bankroll a competitor league collapsed*** and the USSF and FIFA soon agreed to a deal in time for the second half of the 1929 season. The USSF would keep its cut of the Challenge Cup but move it to the offseason, the ASL would readmit the suspended teams and participate in the challenge cup. American soccer was back on track.


From On the Mark: America's
First Soccer Dynasty
by Jeramy Crotcher

…The 1928-1929 ASL Season was the 4th title in 6 seasons for the the Fall River Marksmen and marked the first recognition of the 20's Fall River Dynasty. The power of the early Marksmen can be attributed to three factors. The first is Sam Mark, who took over the ailing Fall River United in 1922. A basketball and baseball enthusiast Mark had no real love for soccer but saw its profitability. He bought the team and immediately began improving it. He moved to a soccer specific stadium across the state line in Rhode Island, enabling the team to play on Sundays. He then flooded money into the team and build up a solid roster. The team's formidable attack was spearheaded by Harold Brittan, an Englishman who had played solidly for Bethlehem and Philadelphia before. He was at the top of his form during his time with the rebranded Marksmen and led the team in goals, he was the second factor. The third was the Marksmen's stoic back line. It was initially led by Goalkeeper Findlay Kerr who posted 14 clean sheets in the 27 game season. But the defenders would form the basis of the team in the coming years.


From the PBS Documentary Series The Great Depression

The depression effected sports heavily, none greater then the American Soccer League. Many teams folded as revenues went down, people just didn't have the money to pay. Even the powerful Marksmen faced monetary problems****. But in a way the Great Depression helped Soccer in America. You don't need much to play soccer, just something to kick and something to mark the goals. So the depression turned some Americans from sports like Gridiron Football, and turned some to soccer. But the depression still hurt the Soccer Leagues hard, for a time it looked like the ASL, weakened by its fight with the USSF, might even collapse. But it persevered…


*: POD, IOTL it was only 15%

**: FIFA's habit of meddling with national federations is as old as FIFA itself

***: IOTL one was formed, they eventually remerged but the split crippled the ASL.

****: IOTL Mark packed up shop and moved to New York, ITTL, he hold out a little while longer.

For those of you who remember my short lived TL The Miracle Men on Montevideo you can consider this a conceptual reboot.

NEXT UP: La Primera Copa del Mundo
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La Primera Copa del Mundo


From A History of the World Cup by Theo Fagan

Chapter One: The Teams

United States of America.

The 1930 World Cup marked the start of America's long tradition of good play at the World Cup. The good reputation and homegrown players of the ASL contributed to the United States being seeded, freeing it from playing the powers in the first round. Though of course this was also do the lack of any great European teams in the tournament. They drew* a relatively easy group. Aside from the USA Group 2 included Romania and Bolivia. The games would start for America soon.


Group 1:


Group 2:


Group 3:


Group 4:

Group 1 was dominated by the hosts. The Uruguayans swept aside the Chileans easily 3-0 and beat the Mexicans 2-1 after their trouncing of Belgium. Their top scorer was Peregrino Anselmo who scored 3 times in the three games. The Belgians finished second, beating the Chileans and Mexicans 1-0 apiece. The Chileans and Mexicans drew 0-0 in the consolation game.

Group 1 Pts W T L
Uruguay 6 3 0 0
Belgium 4 2 0 1
Chile 1 0 1 2
Mexico 1 0 1 2

Group 2 was under the jackboot of the Americans. They swept aside the Romanians 1-0 with a goal from Forward Tom Florie of the New Bedford Whalers. The next day the tired Romanians lost to the surprising Bolivian squad 2-0. But the Bolivians were no match for the Americans who slaughtered them 3-0 with Billy Gonsalves scoring the first ever World Cup hat trick.

Group 2 Pts W T L
USA 4 2 0 0
Bolivia 2 1 0 1
Romania 0 0 0 2

Group 3 saw the Brazilians be forced to a playoff after initially defeating Paraguay. They'd fought off an early Paraguay attack to win 2-1 with two goals by Araken. But the French proved to be trouble for the Brazilians and they tied 1-1. The French then dispatched the Paraguayans 1-0 when Émile Veinante knocked the ball past the keeper in the 76th minute to force a playoff. The Brazilians proved their measure and while Veinante scored again the South Americans held it together to advance.

Group 3 Pts W L D
Brazil 7 3 0 1
France 1 2 1 1
Paraguay 0 0 2 0

Group 4 saw the Argentines overcome a scare to advance. The Argentines slaughtered Peru 4-0 to open the group. The Yugoslavians also beat the hapless Peruvians 1-0 with the lone goal by Ivan Bek. The two winners met, with every paper in South America expecting a thumping in favor of the Argentines. But the Slavs were a tough bunch** and Branislav Hrnjiček and Dragutin Najdanović scored early. Going into the half the Argentines were shell shocked, as were the fans. Head coaches Francisco Olazar and Juan José Tramutola were able to rally the team in the second half however and Roberto Cherro scored the game winner in the 68th minute.

Group 4 Pts W T L
Argentina 4 2 0 0
Yugoslavia 2 1 0 1
Peru 0 0 0 2

The Semifinals: Uruguay vs Argentina and USA vs Brazil


From Average Joe: A Memoir in Interviews By Frank Schmitt and Joe Wisebok

FS: What do you remember about the 1930 World Cup?

JW: The Actual Tournament? Not much. Baseball season was goin' on, and the Yankees of Baseball were by primary concern. I knew some of the players for New York Soccer Club were down in Uruguay for some tournament. But that was only because Bill was nervous they wouldn't get back in time for the season, he thought it was a waste of time. Me? I just thought it was Bill being crazy I guess.

FS: And when did that change?

JW: *laughs* I stopped thinking Bill was crazy when I heard that the National Team was in the Semifinal, because he stopped acting so weird and talked about how great NYSC was gonna' be this next year. I still rolled my eyes at him, Soccer was something that the Immigrants played in their streets. Them I told him to pick up the stick and hit. As for actually caring about what happened? I'd say it wasn't until that I heard we were in the final that I got at least somewhat excited. The papers, who I guess were having a slow time with the news, did a good job playing it up as like the World Series but for Soccer. So that got me "caring". But I still found it just a fun sideshow.

FS: Was anyone else excited?

JW: The few kids I knew from Eastern Europe were excited a bit bout Czechoslovakia, but the German kids I knew didn't seem to care much, they weren't in it.



The first Semifinal played was Uruguay vs Argentina, the two favorites playing each other. One Montevideo Newspaper boldly declared "Este Es El Final" or "It is the Final". And it certainly seemed like that. The Two teams had met for the Olympic Medal before and were fierce rivals, wanting nothing but victory. A dispute arose before the game over which ball to use, the official soon came to the conclusion that as the home team Uruguay had the right to use their ball***. The Argentines who blamed it on the ball may have been right, the teams seemed evenly matched and it is possible the ball made a difference. The Argentines struck first with a goal by Attilio Demaría in the 17th minute. Uruguay tied it with 3 minutes left in the half when Pedro Cea knocked the ball past the keeper. The Second half saw the game open up as Cea scored again in the 49th then Pablo Dorado headed the ball into the goal in the 63rd. Guillermo Stábile tightened the score in the 70th minute but it was too late for Argentina. Uruguay had won "the final" 3-2.

The other semifinal was a much more subtle affair, both teams seemed resigned to losing to the winners of the Uruguay-Argentina game. The United States scored in the 33rd Minute when Mike Bookie tapped one in after a flub off of a clear by Joel. After that the match stalled as Jimmy Douglas held up the clean sheet during a Brazilian onslaught at the start of the second half. The attack soon collapsed and the march stagnated. As the final whistle blew the Uruguayan fans started to chant "Somos la capital de la carne del mundo", "We are the Meat Capital of the World". The tension of the final had begun.

FIFA OFFICIAL RECORDS 1984: As part of the retrospective ranking project FIFA recognizes Argentina as the third place team in 1930, despite no game being played.

"Bullshit," then current Brazilian Coach Ricardo when he heard about the decision"


The final was played on a nice day in Montevideo. But the mood was tense as a huge but orderly mob of Uruguayans marched down to the stadium. There was no dispute over the ball this time, since the Americans had not brought one. The match was officiated by the Belgian John Langenus, who had agreed to referee only if a quick escape was provided. The stadium itself was packed dangerously full with Uruguayans, eager to see their team win. Present was FIFA President Jules Rimet, prepared to award the trophy to the winner. Speaking of the winner, it was unanimously predicted to be Uruguay, who had dominated the sport for 10 years. As the match started off it seemed like everyone was right. The Uruguayans pressed relentlessly against the young Americans, keeping them in their own half. In the 26th minute Héctor Castro scored as American keeper Jimmy Douglas dove the wrong way on a hard kick. The Uruguayans settled back into a more defensive posture for the rest of the half, but still maintained a threatening demeanor and denied the Americans any real chances. The second half opened dramatically as Bert Patenaude got past the Uruguayan backlit straight from the kickoff and blasted it towards the goal, the only thing that kept it from going in was the face of GK Enrique Ballestrero. But then, straight off the corner kick that had resulted from the play, Striker Bart McGhee got the ball and kicked it towards the net. Ballestrero, perhaps still stunned by being hit in the nose with a solid leather ball halfheartedly jumped up to grab the ball, and missed. 1-1, Tie Game. The crowd started to boo the Americans even louder and threaten the referee. Then in the 64th minute the "Miracle of Montevideo" really started. It opened as Jimmy Douglas cleared the ball out of the box, it sailed to midfield where it was acquired by Billy Gonsalves, who in a remarkable display of talent, dribbled around several Uruguayan defenders and booted a powerful cross into the box. Andy Auld and Enrique Ballestrero both leaped into the air in an attempt to gain control. There was a thunk, and Ballestrero was lying on the ground in pain, his ankle injured, Auld was celebrating. And the ball was in the goal.

To this day Uruguayan Soccer fanatics swear on the Cross that Auld should have been thrown out of the game for a reckless assault on their goalkeeper and the goal disallowed and that the referee should've be thrown into hell. But Langenus missed more obvious fouls later in the game. There were no substitutions back then and so Ballestrero had to stay in the game, injured ankle and all. The Uruguayans tried their hardest to ensure he didn't have to touch the ball, and he didn't. The offense of the hosts was too busy relentlessly attacking the American goal. The Americans fought back with some breathtakingly dirty play. They kicked the back of opponent's legs, hacked at them and elbowed like there was no tomorrow. The Uruguayans weren't horribly clean as well but the American performance rightfully goes down as one of the most brutal in history. Despite all of the Player's and Fan's appeals the Referee seemed oblivious to the fouling, he was simply out of his depth. The Uruguayans made shot after shot after shot, yet somehow Douglas and the Americans held out. The final whistle blew, Langenus hastily congratulated the Americans then left for the escape boat waiting for him. The crowd booed as the Americans received the trophy for the first time. A few stones were pelted that day, and many more over the coming weeks in the streets of Uruguay. In America it was slightly different…
From - AlteredTime.Net, Non-Political Discussion ---> Why do Americans call Football Soccer?

UruMaster said:
They won 1930 by a fluke.

In the vast majority of the infinite number of ways the 1930 World Cup final could've turned out, Uruguay Wins.

WhiteUSSR said:
As others have said the third most popular sport in America, a form of padded rugby, is called Gridiron Football. It got the name first there, before the ASL became popular.

@UruMaster: Still sore ehh? ;)


*: Its Different from OTL
**: They beat Brazil and got to the Semifinals IOTL.
***: This arose during the OTL final and was resolved on a half and half deal

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