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The aborted midwestern professional league of 1901. Seven years after the owners of eastern professional baseball teams attempted to keep their ballparks occupied with a soccer league, Charles Comiskey and other owners of midwestern baseball teams pursued a similar venture, one which folded weeks before it was due to start. I'm looking into the reasons for its failure – transportation costs seem partly to blame – but am keen to examine the origins and aftermath of the venture in more detail.

Penn State College’s 1934 tour of Scotland. The only signficant pre-war British tour by an American team - and a humbling one at that; the Nittany Lions conceded 64 goals in eight matches. Most of the Scottish press didn’t think much of the team, but its Edinburgh-born coach, Bill Jeffrey, became one of the best in the limited American collegiate circles (and of course later coached the US team which defeated England at the 1950 World Cup). The Scotland tour seemed to represent quite an education for Jeffrey’s team; in 1935 State apparently went through its entire 1935 collegiate season without so much as conceding a goal. It would be interesting to know more about that season as well.

The early history of soccer in Wisconsin. Pitifully little seems to be known about the formative years: the “Milwaukee and District Soccer League” that was formed in 1914, prominent officials such as J W Frew (linked to the abortive midwestern professional league of 1901) and Joseph Naylor, or the formation of early powerhouses like the MacWhyte and Simmons clubs of Kenosha and the Horlicks of Racine. I've undertaken quite a bit of research on this but need to do more, and would be pleased to hear from anyone able to help. Sadly, my efforts at contacting state association officials on this matter have proved fruitless.

The National Challenge Cup. Or as it's now known, the US Open Cup. (Why was the name changed, and when? Nobody seems to know.) My main interest in the competition is from its inception to the Great Depression, the era when soccer still had a chance to enter the national conscience. The aim is to catalogue the date, results and venue for every tie played during this time — a tall order, perhaps, but one I'm keen to pursue.

The original American Soccer League (1921-31). Colin Jose's 1998 book (available from Amazon.com and elsewhere) provides a welter of information on this topic, but many questions — largely beyond the scope of his work — remain unanswered. We don't know much about many of the grounds used by the clubs, for instance, or the people who attended the matches. We also don't know what became of some of the ASL's more conspicuous officials (Bill Cunningham, for instance, seems to have departed before the end of the soccer "war", for reasons no one seems sure of). Perhaps most significantly of all, it's not really clear how and when the league met its end - and why its existence was forgotten for decades.

The US's 1934 World Cup ‘qualifier’. Nobody seems able to say with any certainty why the match with Mexico was played in Italy, or what had brought it about in the first place, since the Mexicans already appeared to have qualified. Some have claimed the US submitted its application late (if so, why? It had announced its intention to enter the competition months before), but I've been unable to verify this. Apparently 1934 is the most poorly documented of all the World Cups, but someone is bound to have the necessary evidence.

Other curiosities. Why did the St Louis teams wait until 1920 before entering the National Challenge Cup? And why did their leagues insist on playing 60-minute matches? What became of the young British, Scandinavian and Dutch men who represented the Dallas Tornado during their whirlwind 1968 pre-season tour (an amazing 45 matches in 19 countries)? Where did James Scholefield, the Lancashire-born USFA secretary who absconded in 1922 with the proceeds of the National Challenge Cup entries, end up? And was Mark's Stadium, as built by Sam Mark for the Fall River team in the 1920s, really the country's first soccer-specific stadium — or was it built for baseball as well?

Get in touch if you're interested in any of these topics, or American soccer history in general, and would like to help.

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Last update: March 2008.

This site ©David Wangerin 2008.