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Stability continued for the St. Louis Major Soccer League heading into the 1949-50 season. Two teams gained new sponsors. The Paul Schultes (former Raiders) became McMahon Pontiac and the El Reys became the Mike Breheny Furniture team. The Ray Dohles and Simpkins teams rounded out the league's membership.
The SLMSL retained the split-season schedule of nine games each half and also continued the postseason round robin two-defeats-and-out playoff format. In addition, after meetings of U.S. Soccer Football Association officials and officers from the SLMSL, the club franchise owners voted to re-enter teams in the National Open Cup. They also decided to continue to stay out of the National Amateur Cup.
The Joe Simpkins team was the only team in the SLMSL with a farm system. During the season it operated two teams in the Municipal Soccer League: the Vincels in the senior division; and the Simpkins in the junior division. Due to this system, the club was able to develop talent and move the better players into the professional squad. This paid dividends as the Simpkins won the first half league title.
With Simpkins and McMahons, the only team to beat the Simpkins during the fall, tied on points at the end of the first half, the league decided to use the first regular season game of the second half also as a playoff to determine the first-half title. Simpkins blanked the McMahons 4-0 on December 18 before 3328 at Sportsman's Park to take the first-half championship.
In late December, two weeks into the second half, Ray Dohle dropped out as sponsor of the club that bore his name. While the franchise owners lined up a new sponsor, the team played their January 8 game simply as the Clifford-Selbys after their two owners. The team found new sponsorship and became the Joe Lenneman club for the remainder of the season.
Simpkins then cruised to the second-half league title winning all eight league games. Because Simpkins had an insurmountable lead, the SLMSL canceled the final regular season match and, instead, began the postseason playoffs a week early. Simpkins beat the Lennemanns in the first round then were upset, once again, 1-0 on February 26 by McMahon Pontiac before 2302 at Sportsman's Park. At that point, Simpkins had only lost three games across all competitions and all three were by the McMahons.
The SLMSL playoffs took a pause because Simpkins was making another run at a National Open Cup title. The Simpkins club had easily taken the Missouri title winning the final on February 5 by beating McMahon Pontiac 3-2 before 2859 at Sportsman's Park (a match that also counted in the second-half league standings). That put Simpkins in the Western Semifinals. On March 5, Joe Simpkins blanked the Polish Eagles of Chicago 5-0 at Sportsman's Park before 3634.
After a week's postponement due to bad weather, SImpkins then beat the Mike Brehenys 5-1 on March 19 to get into the SLMSL playoff final. But before that, the Simpkins club would face the Morgan club in the Western Finals of the NOC. On March 26, Simpkins beat Morgan 4-1 before 3893 at Sportsman's Park in the first leg of the series. A week later, Simpkins traveled to Bridgveille Park outside of Pittsburg for the second leg. A crowd of 1570 saw Simpkins beat Morgan 2-0 to win the NOC Western Final. Three days later, on Wednesday, April 12, Simpkins beat the Lennemann club 4-0 before 1634 at Public Schools Stadium to win the SLMSL playoff championship.
Simpkins hosted the first leg of the NOC Final on Saturday, April 22. With 2507 in attendance at Public Schools Stadium, Joe Simpkins beat Ponta Delgada of Fall River, Mass. 2-0. Two weeks later, on Sunday May 7, the Simpkins traveled to Tiverton Stadium in Rhode Island. Before a crowd of 3330, Simpkins drew Ponta Delgada 1-1. That result gave Simpkins their second NOC title 3-1 on aggregate goals.
On May 25, 1950, Simpkins hosted Manchester United at Public Schools Stadium. With 7000 in attendance, the English club easily beat Simpkins 5-0. But, just over a month later, five of those Simpkins players would be on the United States National team roster that beat England 1-0 in the World Cup.
©2022 by Daniel Creel. All rights reserved.