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Reply #37: First black soccer players [View All]

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Brewman_Jax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-20-06 09:34 AM
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37. First black soccer players
Since it's World Cup time, and I have a soccer football avatar, I've been researching the first black US soccer players. This has been exceptionally difficult because soccer in the US has been a minor sport and most players were foreign-born. Add the fact that soccer didn't suffer from the crippling racism of the major sports, researching this was quite the labor of fun. Relegation to minor status by colleges in favor of rugby, the forerunner of gridiron (American) football, lack of money, regional differences, and political infighting were always the problems in soccer's early years.

Jamaican-born Gil Heron is considered the first pro soccer player in 1946. Joe Gaetjens, the star of the 1950 USA World Cup team that defeated England 1-0, was from Haiti (the name comes from a Belgian father and Haitian mother). That win is still considered the greatest World Cup upset of all time. A team of college students, semi-pros, and amateurs winning over a full professional team from the home of modern soccer. IMO, the English hate that fact more than losing the American Revolution. It's also the subject of the 2005 movie The Game of Their Lives starring Patrick Stewart--THE Patrick Stewart.

The first US-born black pro soccer I could find was Desmond Armstrong, from Columbia, MD. A 3-time all-ACC standout at the U. of Maryland, he began his pro career with the MISL (Major Indoor Soccer League) Cleveland Force in 1986. He was on the 1988 Olympic Team and on the 1990 and 1994 USA World Cup teams. First international appearance vs. Egypt in 1987.
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