American folklore asserts that Pilgrim Fathers, upon settling at Plymouth Rock found American Indians along the Massachusetts coast playing a form of soccer. The Indians called it “Pasuckquakkohowog,” which means “they gather to play football.”
Many American colleges played soccer, but there was no intercollegiate competition. Rules were casual and changed often.
The Oneidas of Boston, the first organized soccer club in America, was formed by Gerritt Miller Smith. The Oneidas were undefeated from 1862-65. A monument now stands in Boston Common, where the Oneidas played their home matches.
Soccer was initiated as an organized college sport in the USA in the years following the Civil War. Princeton and Rutgers Universities engaged in the first intercollegiate soccer match Nov. 6, 1876, in New Brunswick, N.J. Rutgers won the match 6-4. The game was more similar to both rugby and soccer than gridiron football.
Thousands of British immigrants arrived in the metropolitan areas of the East, Midwest and Pacific Coast. Communities with textile mills, shipyards, quarries or mines also had soccer teams among its immigrant population, a pattern occurring all over the world during the time of the Industrial Revolution.
The American Football Association was organized in Newark, N.J., uniting the numerous metropolitan area enclaves of the East to maintain uniformity in the interpretation of rules and provide an orderly and stable growth of soccer in America.
The U..S. and Canada played
a game a year against each other, representing the first “international”
soccer games to take place outside the British Isles.
The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was formed in Paris on May 21. Charter members included: France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. The International Board, the authority over the rules and their interpretation continued under the jurisdiction of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, even though they were not affiliated with FIFA. The Olympic Games of 1904 in St. Louis included soccer as an official Olympic sport where club teams competed under the national team banner. FIFA did not become active in Olympic soccer until 1908.
FIFA became a member of the International Board, increasing their influence on the interpretation of rules. The U.S. Football Association (USFA) was granted provisional membership by FIFA on Aug. 15.
The USFA was incorporated under the laws of the state of New York, May 30, and was granted full membership in FIFA at the annual congress at Oslo, Norway, June 24.
The first USFA Men's National Team traveled to Norway and Sweden. The Americans played six matches on this tour, finishing 3-1-2.
Bethlehem (Pa.) Steel became the first American professional team to play in Europe when they toured Sweden.
The original American Professional Soccer League (APSL) began. Franchises were granted to Fall River, Mass.; Philadelphia; Jersey City Celtics, N.J.; Todd Shipyard of Brooklyn, N.Y.; New York FC; Falco FC of Holyoke, Mass.; and JP Coats of Pawtucket, R.I.
The world’s first indoor soccer league with 11-a-side teams on a full-sized field opened the winter season at the Commonwealth Calvary Armory in Boston.
The USA was one of 13 nations to compete in the first FIFA World Cup competition in Montevideo, Uruguay. Bert Patenaude (Fall River, Mass.) was the third-leading scorer in the tournament and was the first player to tally three goals in World Cup play.
At the 10th Olympiad in Los Angeles, soccer was eliminated due to a controversy between FIFA and the IOC over the definition of an amateur and the reluctance of most of the strong soccer countries to travel to California because of the expense involved.
West Chester State College and Salisbury College played in the first intercollegiate soccer game under floodlights.
The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) was organized by 10 coaches attending the annual meeting of the Intercollegiate Soccer Football Association of America in New York.
The USFA changed its name to the U.S. Soccer Football Association (USSFA).
Joe Gaetjens’ goal lifts the USA over England 1-0 at the World Cup in Brazil. It was called the biggest upset ever in international soccer. The first college bowl game was played in St. Louis Jan. 1. Penn State University tied the University of San Francisco 2-2. The National Soccer Hall of Fame was organized by the Philadelphia Old-timers Association. There were 15 inaugural inductees.
In an agreement with the Old-timers Soccer Association, the USSFA assumed administration of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
The American Soccer League (ASL) was granted permission from the USSFA to create an International Soccer League (ISL), made up of top-class European, South American and U.S. professional league teams that would operate in the cities throughout the United States.
The first NCAA championship tournament was held in Storrs, Conn. St. Louis defeated Bridgeport University 5-2. The first National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics college championship was held in Slippery Rock, Pa.. Pratt Institute was victorious over Elizabethtown College 4-3.
The International Soccer League began play under the sponsorship of William Cox and the ASL. For more than a decade foreign teams visited the USA to play American teams. The new league, composed of first class European, British and South American teams, was an attempt to test the support of American soccer fans for a top-flight league.
The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), the governing body of soccer in this part of the world, was recognized by FIFA.
Two new major professional leagues made their debut in the USA, the USSFA-sanctioned United Soccer Association (USA) and the independent National Professional Soccer League (NPSL). By the end of the year, the leagues merged at the request of FIFA and the North American Soccer League (NASL) was established.
Pele retired from international competition after Brazil tied Yugoslavia 2-2 before 150,000 at Rio de Janiero’s Maracana Stadium.
Kyle Rote, Jr., became the first rookie and first American to win the NASL scoring title with 10 goals and 10 assists for 30 points.
The USSFA changed its name to the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). Kyle Rote, Jr. won the first of his three victories in ABC-TV Superstars competitions against elite athletes from other major sports. The NASL reached a membership of 18 teams.
In April, the New York Cosmos signed Pele for $4.5 million.
The NASL signed a seven-game contract for national television. On October 1, Pele participated for both sides in his farewell game at Giants Stadium between the Cosmos and Santos, his old team from Brazil, in front of a crowd of 77,202.
The Chicago Sting played the Cuban National Team in an exhibition in Havana, the first time since 1959 an American professional sports team had visited Castro’s island. The New York Cosmos became the first NASL team to break one million in home and away attendance.
In September, the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) debuted with six franchises: Cincinnati Kids, Cleveland Force, Houston Summit, New York Arrows, Philadelphia Fever and Pittsburgh Spirit.
The U.S. Under-20 National Team competed in its first World Youth Championship in Australia. The U.S. team lost to Uruguay 3-0, tied Qatar 1-1, and lost to Poland 4-0.
The United States made a formal bid to host the 1986 World Cup. The MISL season opened with 14 teams, including three teams participating for a season from the NASL (San Jose, Chicago and San Diego).
FIFA awarded the 1986 World Cup to Mexico, rejecting the U.S. bid.
The U.S. Indoor Five-A-Side (Futsal) Team won the bronze medal at the inaugural FIFA World Championship in the Netherlands.
The U.S. Under-20 National Team defeated Europe’s number one seed, Turkey, 6-0 in the first game of the World Youth Championship in Australia. FIFA officials called the trouncing one of the most extraordinary results in the history of the tournament. The U-20s finished eighth in the world.
The NPSL was granted status in the professional indoor division by U.S. Soccer. The APSL was declared a Division II professional league. The United States Interregional Soccer League (USISL) was given Division III status. Plans for Major League Soccer — a Division I league to follow the legacy of World Cup ‘94 — were presented by U.S. Soccer President Alan Rothenberg.
The Women’s National Team won the Chiquita Cup, a four-team international tournament in which the U.S. hosted Germany, China and Norway. The U.S. went on to successfully defend its CONCACAF championship, qualifying for the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Championship by outscoring the opposition 36-1 en route to winning all four qualification matches. Head coach Anson Dorrance announced his resignation and U.S. Soccer named assistant coach Tony DiCicco to succeed him.
In July, the men’s team made international headlines by advancing to the semifinals of Copa America, one of the world’s most prestigious tournaments. The U.S. scored its first-ever victory over Argentina, 3-0, and advanced via penalty kicks (over Mexico) into the semifinals before falling 1-0 to defending world champion Brazil. Steve Sampson, who had served as interim national team coach since April, was named full-time head coach in August.
The U.S. men’s Olympic team
narrowly missed advancing to the quarterfinals with a 1-1-1 record.
FIFA awarded the 1999 Women’s World Cup to the United States and U.S. Soccer pledged it would be the biggest and most successful women’s sporting event ever.
The women’s team continued their impressive play by winning their fourth straight U.S Women’s Cup and going undefeated in the six-game Nike Victory Tour, celebrating their Olympic Gold Medal a year earlier.
Women’s World Cup Organizing Committee had awarded the ‘99 games to seven U.S. locations: Boston; Chicago; Los Angeles; New York/New Jersey; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco Bay Area; and Washington, D.C.
The women’s team continued their impressive play, losing just twice in 1998 while playing in front of records crowds all across the country.
In Bruce Arena’s first full year at the helm of the U.S. Men’s National Team, the squad achieved a 7-4-2 mark in 13 international matches, which includes two wins over Germany and victories over Argentina and Chile. His team earned the bronze medal at the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup in Mexico.
The U-23 Men’s National Team beat Canada to earn the bronze medal at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada, while the U-18 Women took the gold. The Under-21 Women also earned the 1999 Nordic Cup title.
The U-20s advanced to the second round of the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship in April, with their only two loses coming to eventual finalists Spain and Japan. Taylor Twellman scored four goals to earn himself the Bronze Boot, the first American male to ever earn a FIFA scoring award. In November, the U-17s extended their record unbeaten streak to 24 games, advancing to the semifinals of the World Championships before losing in penalty kicks to Australia. In addition to an all-time best fourth-place finish, forward Landon Donovan and midfielder DaMarcus Beasley earned the Gold and Silver Balls as the tournaments top two MVPs.
The United States women maintained the momentum from their historic Women’s World Cup title with a record 41 matches in 2000, posting a 26-6-9 record. The U.S. won a whopping six tournament titles in 2000, including — for the first time in six tries — the prestigious Algarve Cup in Portugal. The women claimed a silver medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics, losing in overtime to arch-rival Norway in the Gold Medal Match.
The American men and women put on an impressive display for the world at the Sydney Games, as the U.S. is the only nation to have both its teams advance to the semifinals. The American men are the surprise team of the tournament, winning their group and advancing to the semis before grabbing fourth place, the men’s highest Olympic finish.
The American youth teams used the year to prepare for qualification into the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championships. The Under-17s again spend most of the year in residency with head coach John Ellinger in Florida and post a 35-14-7 record. The team outscored their opponents 167-65 and had three players net more than 20 goals on the year. The Under-20s, coached by Wolfgang Sunholz, are impressive in their warm ups for qualification, despite missing many of their regular players, compiling a 16-8-10 record.
The Under-21 Women win their third Nordic Cup title in the last four years, showing the world the legacy of the U.S. Women’s National Team is in good hands.
The U.S. Women play only 10 international matches in 2001 as the new Women’s United Soccer Association begins play, with the Bay Area CyberRays winning the inaugural Founders Cup. Mia Hamm was named the first-ever FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, beating out teammate Tiffeny Milbrett and Chinese superstar Sun Wen for the historic award.
The U.S. Under-21 Women won their third straight Nordic Cup title with a 6-1 rout of Sweden in the final. The U.S. Under-19 Women’s National Team prepared for the 2002 U-19 Women’s World Championship by going undefeated in five international matches, outscoring opponents 23-1.
The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team advanced to their ninth consecutive FIFA U-17 World Championship, but were into the Group of Death in Trinidad & Tobago with Japan, Nigeria and France, and were eliminated in the first round. The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team qualified for their third straight FIFA World Youth Championship, where the team finished second in their group in Argentina and were eliminated in the second round by Egypt.
The National Professional Soccer League, in existence since 1984-95, merges with the WISL and is renamed as the Major Indoor Soccer League.
The U.S. Women’s National Team qualified for their fourth consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup, set for China 2003, after capturing the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup with a 2-1 overtime victory over Canada at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
In one of the stories of the year, the U.S. Under-19 Women’s National Team topped the host Canadians 1-0 in overtime to win the inaugural FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship. The USA was a perfect 6-0 in the tournament, allowing just two goals. Forward Kelly Wilson won the Bronze Ball as the tournament’s third MVP and the Silver Boot as the tournament’s second leading scorer, while forward Lindsay Tarpley earned the Bronze Boot. Additionally, the U.S. Under-21 Women’s National Team won the Nordic Cup in Finland, marking the team’s fifth Nordic Cup title in six years. A new national team, the Under-17 Women’s National Team, was established in October. For the men, the U.S. Under-20 National Team qualified for their fourth consecutive FIFA World Youth Championship, scheduled for the United Arab Emirates in 2003.
The U.S. National Futsal Team played their first-ever home matches, defeating Canada and tying Mexico in March in Baltimore, Md., and Washington, D.C., respectively.