Author: David Wangerin
Title: Distant Corners: American Soccer’s History of Missed Opportunities and Lost Causes
Publication Info: Temple University Press (2011)
A sequel of sorts to Soccer in a Football World, Wangerin’s history of soccer in the United States, this book is a series of essays focusing on particular places and times in American history when soccer flourished. If there’s a unifying theme of book is the inevitable quote from a contemporary to the effect that soccer’s rise to popularity in the United States is just around the corner. The negative that can be taken from this is that they were all wrong as soccer remains a niche sport in the country, but the positive is that it shows just how much of a history of the game there is in the United States. Wangerin explores this historical periods in search of a distinct American style of play that can be built upon as the game continues to grow in the US.
Topics covered by the essays include:
- tours of the US by Pilgrims, Corinthians, and other English teams to attempt to popularize association football at a time when violence and deaths were sullying gridiron football in the early 1900s.
- The creation of a national federation (now the USSF) and the National Challenge Cup (now the US Open Cup).
- Thomas Cahill, the man who, under better circumstances, would be remembered as the father of American soccer.
- The success of Penn State’s soccer team in the Depression Era under the leadership of Bill Jeffrey.
- Leagues in St. Louis create a distinctive St. Louis style of play
- The Oakland Clippers, champions of the renegade NPSL in 1967 and one of the top teams in the first year of the NASL in 1968, flounder in their attempt to play outside the league against top international competition.
- 1979, the pivotal year of the NASL.
Recommended books: Once in a Lifetime by Gavim Newsham and The Grass of Another Country: A Journey Through the World of Soccer by Christopher Merrill