American Soccer Coming Home To St Louis


Yesterday’s announcement of a breakaway league from USL-1 had a great symbolic significance. It seems after many false starts and false hopes, outdoor soccer may finally be coming home to St Louis.

November 10th, 2009 could very well be remembered for future generations as the day Soccer came home. St Louis is the traditional mecca of the sport in this country. But thanks to specifically whom the MLS investors were, and the management of USL, St Louis has not had an outdoor professional team in some time.

St Louis’ history in the game is unrivaled by any American city. From the 1920s to the 1960s, St Louis boosted the most US Open Cup winners. Perhaps the greatest player in US history, Billy Gonsalves hailed from St Louis. Raphael Tracy, one of the top American defenders of the 1920s and 1930s was also from St Louis.

The core of the 1950 US World Cup that upset England team was largely from St Louis. The names roll of the tongue today despite playing in virtual anonymity at the time. The names include, Frank Borghi, Harry Keough, and of course the manager himself, Walter Giesler. It’s no coincidence that the only American newspaper reporter who went to Brazil to cover the 1950 World Cup was from St Louis.

The city was the lynchpin behind the early survival of the NASL, which eventually grew to be a massive cross border league. During this period, St Louis’ amateur and semi professional leagues continued to thrive, ultimately providing more American players to the largely foreign player dominated NASL, than any other city.

Recent times have seen the likes of Taylor Twellman, Steve Ralston and Pat Noonan suit up for the United States. Even more impressive is the contribution Vadad Ibisevic is making for Bosnia’s National Football Team and his club, Hoffenheim. Ibisevic played for the St Louis Strikers of the PDL and St Louis University before being signed by PSG and now starring as one of the best attacking players in the Bundesliga.  The striker will feature this weekend as Bosnia tries to qualify for its first World Cup since independence in a UEFA playoff with Portugal.

St Louis, will play a key role in the new outdoor professional league. Jeff Cooper who owns the WPS St Louis Athletica and holds a seat on the board of Football League club Brentford (the closest football club to Heathrow Airport in London) will serve as the new leagues spokesperson. Cooper who has been thwarted in his previous attempts to bring MLS and USL to the city (and in his attempt to buy USL outright) is considered one of the best domestic minds in the sport by several people, I respect.

Cooper helped improve the already impressive youth soccer setup in St Louis and has developed a reputation abroad for his work in the game. Hats off to Jeff Cooper and the TOA for finally bringing Football back to its traditional and rightful American home: St Louis.

31 thoughts on “American Soccer Coming Home To St Louis”

  1. I really like the implications this has for the U.S. Open Cup. The more leagues fighting for respect, the better. Now go get a TV deal so I can watch!

  2. Kartik,

    Where will St. Louis’ new team be playing, and do they have plans for getting their own digs if they’re renting a stadium to start with? Something like this would be good for setting the stage and proving to MLS that the city is ready for a team, and I want more clubs clustered in that geographic region of the country. It takes down travel costs and encourages rivalry among the fan bases.

    1. I agree. In fact, I have said regional leagues in this country may work better than a broad national league which has created rivalries out of teams like the Dallas Burn vs Chicago Fire and Seattle Sounders vs the Montreal Impact.

      I think they will play at the same ground as the Athletica, which Jeff Cooper also owns.

  3. Would this breakaway league still roll up under USSF’s dysfunctional umbrella? I almost used the term ‘pyramid’ since it does smell like a scheme. I honestly hope these issues are addressed by USSF in a way that promotes soccer: viz. not pandering exclusively to corporate interests while discounting the groundswell of support and interest in the game at the local level. There is a balance between underwriting and fan investment. Let’ work on getting the product to a quality level so fans and families can choose with their dollars what is good entertainment. Would the competition among leagues for player development ultimately hurt or help the growth of the sport and product improvement? Guess it depends on leadership priority and business model.

  4. i think this new league should get a hold of the SA Spurs Ownership group. They are looking to put a professional Soccer team in San Antonio. I mean its a solid ownership group.

  5. The TOA league is likely to be a smashing success. They have the right teams in the league, the right markets and truthfully don’t have the burden of supporting the USL structure and an indifferent league office.

    I forsee an eventual TOA/MLS linkup, if FIFA allows it. The markets in the TOA release are exactly the ones MLS needs, other than Carolina which can go back to USL after a merger.

  6. Either Kartik is making up some huge story here, or the USSF needs to explain how Ibesevic was playing in the PDL and somehow got out of the US without either MLS signing him or the USSF getting him citizenship and/or capped.

    Do you people realize how good that guy is??????????????????

    1. Well, don’t get me started. I’m trying to be favorable to MLS these days, remember?

      He was really good in High School also in St Louis. He was spotted by PSG while playing in the PDL, and left the US for good that fall. I think it was 04 or 05.

      Yes, he is that good, and no I don’t want to even think about the fact we let him go. We wouldn’t even be talking about G. Rossi if we had somehow convinced him to play for us. But then again, I have no reason to believe he ever thought about playing for us. Perhaps he would have if properly approached. I just have no way of knowing.

      1. So you admit you are trying to be “favorable” to MLS. Cute.

        On the issue itself, he said very openly that he would have “strongly” considered the US if he was approached. But he was never approached.

        As you used to believe, but now don’t because you love MLS, the PDL is filled with players that could enhance the MLS product but are ignored. These same players are ignored by the USSF and the USMNT structure which is full of cronyism.

        Ibisevic is an extreme example no doubt, but a lot of PDL guys could be useful players in MLS and deepen the USSF player pool. Davies also was ignored while in PDL and much of his time at Hammerby.

        Great job USSF and Brucio!

        1. Kartik has spoken at length about the PDL being an undertapped source of talent for MLS.

          Read this:

          Just because he writes something favorable of MLS or the TOA doesn’t mean he’s all of a sudden anti-USL. Anyone supportive of the game in the country is receptive to both the USL and MLS because they understand just how vital each and every *team* — let alone league — is to the sport.

  7. Ibesevic has stated that he would have played for the US but we never once approached.

    So that’s another brilliant USSF/ Bruce Arena legacy.

    Kartik, you may not want to be negative, but how can you not be when we don’t scout our own country for talent, but European clubs do?

    He’s a big star at Hoffenheim no doubt and we wouldn’t be sweating out Charlie Davies injury if he had played for us instead of Bosnia who didn’t cap him until 2007.

    He’ll be featuring this weekend versus Portugal in the big WCQ.

  8. Sorry, but Billy Gonsalves was not from St. Louis. He was born in Portsmouth, Rhode Island as Adelino Gonsalves, and grew up in Fall River, Mass. His first pro club was the Fall River Marksmen, but later in his career he did play for St. Louis Stix, Bear and Fuller, Central Beweries and Shamrocks.
    As for Dent McSkimming in 1950, he was not sent to Brazil by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, but went on his own nickel as a spectator. There was therefore no U.S. newspaperman in Brazil in 1950 and McSkimming’s by-line is not on the reports in the Post Dispatch. Similarly there was no U.S. journalist covering the 1930 or 1934 World Cups.

    1. Thanks for the corrections. As far as McSkimming, its popular myth that he was there for the Post-Dispatch. How exactly did his reports get picked up back home? Were they like a wire story? What was his by-line on the stories?

      The Gonsalves thing, you are correct on. He played in St Louis but was from back east.

      Thanks, for the corrections and the McSkimming thing to me is fascinating: I and I believe many others have been under the impression for years that he was sent by the Post-Dispatch.

  9. Kartik, remember me, PUTITO?? You’re a joke, and so’s this country’s soccer. St Louis soccer, HAHAHA! That city is just like your mother.. SUCKS MEATPOLE!! Look at the Rams! All you little homos talking about how you should have nationalized players and capped them, that’s all you can do, you cant produce REAL futbolistas, you try to nationalize other countries’ players to come put on your ugly jersey.. Maybe you should stick to covering south American soccer, because at least they have real leagues, as sorry as they are.. No, kartik, you’re probably better off working the drive through at mickey d’s, because your articles are garbage. Cuauhtemoc is still your GOD, and the FMF is still ussoccer’s FATHER, GIANT OF THE CONCACAF, you little bitches can hate all you want.. HAHAHA!! USA SUCKS! USA SUCKS! USA SUCKS!

    1. wow you have self esteem issues. what something on you very tiny putito.Its okay. We understand that the only reason you attack us is because u can’t get a girl. that or your in denial that you really like guys. that would explain ur needing to bring up the meatpole, of course it could also be because ur really small. go ahead let it out.

  10. To sum up the previous post.
    USA sucks
    USA soccer (whatever that is ) sucks
    Kartik sucks
    US Jerseys are ugly

    Thanks for your post, but KARTIK should work at McDonalds?
    Have you re-read your post? IF offered jump at the job, because you couldn’t fill out an application.

  11. Charles, If you dont know what ussoccer is, why the hell are you commenting on this article? Your mama raised you good on them food stamps and government cheese, didnt she? Redneck cocksucker, keep your dirty mouth out of my business and where it belongs.. on Kartik’s little peepee.. and Dan, I cant get a girl, but I got your mama out of that dumpster easily.. Why dont you two jotos go hump each other and let little Kartik defend himself??

  12. PUTITO u still dont get it. we know your hiding in the closet. the reason you attack us is because your very insecure in your own skin. That makes u a sad person. pathitic in many terms. If you hate american soccer so much thats okay. but you have to come here and look for a fight is only because u obviously have issues with yourself and have to make yourself feel more important, so i laugh at you because you are nothing.

  13. The report in the St. Louis Post Dispatch of June 26, 1950 on the game between the U.S. and Spain, in Curitiba, clearly indicates that it came from United Press International. The report on the game between the U.S. and England in the Post Dispatch on June 30, 1950, contains no indication of where it came from.
    The Post Dispatch of July 16, 1950 says. “Dent McSkimming of the Post-Dispatch sports staff, vacationing, flew to Brazil with the United States soccer team and saw the Americans defeat the English team in the big upset of the World Cup tournament before 30,000 spectators. On the return trip, he gathered the impressions of the six St. Louis players who were members regarding the American squad of their visit to Rio and other towns.” Dent McSkimming’s impressions are in that July 16 edition.

  14. Kartik — love your blog but you need to find a way to pre-edit the disgusting entries.
    Regarding St. Louis I would be very cautious about what you wish for! St. Louis is not a good sports town. It is an awesome baseball town and that’s pretty much it. Despite the big names that you listed, none of them could be classified as having scintillating soccer skills. (Never-the-less — I think that Steve Ralston is fantastic). St. Louis soccer is workmanlike!! But who really wants to pay to see a “workmanlike” team. St Louis soccer is still locked in the vision of 1960’s English football. The soccer credentials of this town are much overplayed.
    In addition, the local press (Post Dispatch) is notably anti-soccer. MLS is lucky if its box scores make it once a week. US friendlies are regularly ignored. TV listings for soccer on Hispanic channels are likewise not to be seen.
    Seattle has shown what an engaged community can do for soccer. St. louis is not Seattle !!

    1. Actually the St.Louis Blues were 7th in attendance this year in the NHL. St.Louis loves hockey and soccer and has some of the best youth soccer and hockey in the country.Hockey and Soccer are probaly bigger then baseball

      1. As a St. LouisanI can assure that baseball is bigger than hockey in St. Louis. Hockey is still big in St. Louis but not to the extent of baseball. St. Louis is a great sports town and an mls soccer team would be welcomed for sure. St. Louis is only weak when it comes to football but thats bec the rams came here as a great team and have gotten progressively worse snd worse over time.

  15. I just found out that US open Cup games are not home and away, but only one game, like it was NFL play-off.

    So the most important game of the seasson,and St Louis fans can not enjoy the experience of watching their team on their turf against an MLS team. Therefore altering the ideal of balance and fearness that FIFA try to acomplish on all their tournaments.

    How could this USSF can explain to us that such a format makes sense.

    How this unsoccerlike ways help to improve soccer popularity!?

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