Friday, October 2, 2009

2 October 1928 - A "Renegade League" Sounds More Exciting Than It Actually Is, Unfortunately

On 2 October 1928, the United States Football Association suspended the nation's top league, the American Soccer League. Established in 1921, the ASL was the United States' first professional league. It was regional, with its teams based primarily around New York and Philadelphia.

The suspension arose from a dispute between the ASL and the USFA over the USFA-run National Challenge Cup (the forerunner of today's U.S. Open Cup). The Challenge Cup was played during the ASL season and was open to all clubs in the nation operating under the USFA umbrella. Thus, ASL clubs often found themselves interrupting their season to travel miles away and play against amateur teams in front of small crowds. The poor crowds combined with high travel expenses to strain the finances of the ASL clubs.

In 1928, the ASL boycotted the Challenge Cup (which they had also done in 1924). Nevertheless, three ASL clubs--Bethlehem Steel, New York Giants, and Newark Skeeters--ignored the boycott and entered the Cup competition. The ASL promptly suspended them, which in turn led the USFA, and later FIFA, to suspend the ASL.

The ASL operated as a renegade league for the rest of the 1928-29 season, while the USFA established a new professional league, the Eastern Professional Soccer League, to take its place. In 1929, at the start of the following season, the ASL agreed to comply with the USFA's demands.

The battle between the ASL and USFA irrevocably damaged the ASL, however, and the league, which had by then merged with the EPSL, dissolved in the spring of 1933.

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