Tuesday, September 2, 2014

2 September 1929 - Apparently, We Once Called It "Football," Too

On 2 September 1929, the Eastern Professional Soccer League (otherwise known as the Eastern Soccer League, or ESL) launched its secondand lastseason.

The ESL was created as the result of a schism between the older American Soccer League and the United States Football Association. For financial and scheduling reasons, the ASL had objected to playing in the USFA-sponsored National Challenge Cup and boycotted the tournament. In response, the USFA suspended the ASL and helped launch the Eastern Professional Soccer League as a replacement.

The new league included eight teams, three from the former ASL (Bethlehem Steel FC (pictured, from 1924), Newark Skeeters and New York Giants), four from the Southern New York Soccer Association (New York Hispano, New York Celtics, Philadelphia Centennials and IRT Rangers), and one new team (New York Hakoah).

For the second season, Centennials and Celtic had dropped out and were replaced by Victoria Hungaria and Newark Portugeuse.

The ESL managed to play only half of its new season before financial pressures--including the October 1929 stock market crash--took their toll on the sport nationally. In November 1929, the ASL reconciled with the USFA and the Eastern Professional Soccer League was dissolved.

At the time, Bethlehem Steel were at the top of the standings and were thus declared champions.

Monday, September 1, 2014

1 September 1886 - I'm Not Sure How A Grasshopper Celebrates, Exactly

On 1 September 1886, Tom E. Griffith, an English student in Zurich, founded Grasshopper-Club Zürich, which would later become the most successful football club in Switzerland. 

The club had to import their blue-and-white kits and a football from England, which they purchased with a donation of 20 Swiss francs. They played their first match in October 1886, a goalless draw with ETH Zurich.

They won their first league title in 1898 on their way to a record 27 league championships, the last of which came in 2003. They also hold a record 18 Swiss Cups, starting with the first Swiss Cup tournament in 1926.
Grasshopper plays in Switzerland's top tier, the AXPO Super League. They finished in fourth place in the 2008-09 season.

There has been no official explanation for the club's name, though it is rumored that it arose from the players' exuberant postgame celebrations.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

31 August 1979 - Bayern Spoils The Party

On 31 August 1979, Bayern Munich defeated hosts Real Madrid in the opening match of the inaugural Trofeo Santiago Bernabéu.

Founded in honor of former Real Madrid manager and President Santiago Bernabéu, who died over one year earlier on 2 June 1978, the Trofeo is a preseason mini-tournament originally contested by Real and three invited teams. In 1978, those teams were Bayern Munich, Ajax, and Milan.

Bayern quickly took an 0-2 lead with goals in the 2nd and 16th minutes. Real pulled one back in the 19th minute, but was unable to equalize and the match ended 1-2. Bayern advanced to the Final against Ajax, who had beaten Milan on penalties, and scored two late goals to win 2-0 and claim the first Santiago Bernabéu trophy.

In 1987, the Trofeo abandoned the four-team format and has since been played as a single match between Real and one other team.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

30 August 1919 - A Nation's Long Wait Is Over

On 30 August 1919, English League football began its first season since 1915, when the League was suspended for World War I.

While many clubs fielded teams for regional competitions during that period, all Football League and FA Cup matches were cancelled for the duration of the war. When League play resumed on 30 August 1919, it picked up where it had left off, so that clubs who had been relegated or promoted in 1915 finally appeared in their new surroundings.

Both Derby County and Preston North End played their first League matches since achieving promotion at the end of the 1914-15 season by finishing first and second, respectively, in Division Two. Derby enjoyed their season debut with a 1-1 draw against Manchester United (whose 1919-20 squad is pictured above), while Preston suffered the top flight's most lopsided result of the day, a 4-0 beating at the hands of Blackburn.

Tottenham Hotspur, on the other hand, opened its season in the Second Division, relegated after finishing at the bottom of the First Division table in 1915. Their Division Two opener was a stellar 0-5 win away to Coventry City, which was the largest margin of victory that day in the second tier. The start was no fluke, as Spurs went on to win Division Two and earn promotion back to the top flight in 1920.

Friday, August 29, 2014

29 August 1976 - So I Guess That's Really 62.5 Caps

On 29 August 1976, former US international midfielder and current Colorado Rapids manager Pablo Mastroeni was born in Mendoza, Argentina.

At the age of 4, he moved with his parents to Phoenix, Arizona. Although his father had hoped that Mastroeni would someday play for his native Argentina, young Pablo decided at 9 years old that he wanted to play for the US.

He got his wish in 2001, when US manager Bruce Arena called him up for World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Costa Rica. He earned his first cap on 7 June 2001 in a match against Ecuador and made his first start in the opening match of the 2002 World Cup as the US upset Portugal, 3-2.

Mastroeni has made 63 appearances for the United States, but is probably best known for receiving a 45th-minute red card in the 2006 World Cup after roughly tackling Italy's Andrea Pirlo.

He has spent his club career in the MLS, first playing for the Miami Fusion (1998-2001), the Colorado Rapids (2002-2013), and the LA Galaxy (2013). In 2014, he took charge of the Rapids as interim manager following the departure of former boss Oscar Pareja.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

28 August 2000 - Super Mario's Golden Goal

On 28 August 2000, Galatasaray defeated Real Madrid, 1-2, in the UEFA Super Cup before a crowd of 15,000 at Stade Louis II in Monaco.

Established in 1972 as the European Super Cup, the competition originally featured the holder of the European Cup against the holder of the European Cup-Winners' Cup and was played over two legs. Starting in 1998, however, the cup was contested in a single match at a neutral venue. The Cup-Winners' Cup was discontinued in 1999, so the 2000 Final was played between the UEFA Champions League holders (Real Madrid) and the UEFA Cup holders (Galatasaray).

The Turkish side drew first blood with a penalty kick in the 41st minute, as Real defender Iván Campo was flagged for fouling left back Hakan Ünsal in the box and the Turkish side's new signing, Brazilian forward Mario Jardel, converted the spot kick. Real captain Raúl scored an equalizing penalty in the 79th minute after Galatasaray midfielder Suat Kaya was called for a handball.

The match went into extra time, where Jardel decided it by slotting the golden goal past Iker Casillas from eight meters away in the 103rd minute.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

27 August 1994 - Hunter Shoots (And Scores!)

On 27 August 1994, Hibernian defeated rivals Hearts 0-1 before a crowd of 13,500 at Tynecastle. The win ended Hibs' streak of 22 Edinburgh derbies without a victory--a streak that stretched back for five and a half years. 

It was only the third match of the season, but Hibs were flying high in second place in the table after a 5-0 win over Dundee United and a goalless draw with Kilmarnock. Hearts, on the other hand, were sitting in eighth position (out of ten), with a 1-3 loss at Aberdeen and a 1-1 draw at Motherwell. The Jambos were nonetheless optimistic, counting on their recent form over Hibs to continue. 

That optimism lasted until the 62nd minute, when Hibs defender and captain Gordon Hunter sent a 10-yard shot past Hearts keeper Nicky Walker. Hearts were unable to return the favor, as Hibs keeper Jim Leighton proved too resolute in goal and held on for his third consecutive clean sheet. 

The match was not without controversy, as Hearts midfielder Gary Mackay was sent off in the 74th minute after receiving his second booking and six other players--three from each side--received yellow cards. 

Hibs didn't have to wait another five and a half years for their next derby win--they defeated Hearts in their very next meeting, a 2-1 win at Easter Road on 29 October 1994.