Friday, September 10, 2010

10 September 1921 - The Philadelphia Experiment

On 10 September 1921, the American Soccer League's newest club, Philadelphia FC, played its first match, a 5-0 exhibition win over an all-Philadelphia side. The win was not surprising, as the "new" PFC was really just a relocated version of powerhouse club Bethlehem Steel (pictured, from 1919).

Formed in 1907 as Bethlehem FC, Bethlehem Steel went on to become the most dominant American team of the early part of the century, winning nine league titles and thirteen cups between 1912 and 1921. In 1919, they recorded a treble by winning the National Association Foot Ball League, the Challenge Cup and the American Cup.

In 1921, however, the owners inexplicably disbanded the club (who had again won the NAFBL title that season) and moved it to Philadelphia. Rebranded as Philadelphia FC, the club included most of the players from the previous incarnation. And they had just as much success, winning the new American Soccer League title in their very first - and only - season. Despite the title, financial pressures forced the owners to break the team up at the end of the season and the club returned to Bethlehem.

After a trophyless season in 1922-23, the club returned to its winning ways in 1924, winning the Challenge Cup. They went on to win one more cup and three more league titles before folding in 1930.

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