American soccer writing, history & data.
Gene Thumm, co-owner of the Raiders franchise, was elected the new league president In the offseason before the 1950-51 St. Louis Major Soccer League to replace Ed Murphy who had held that position since the beginning of the league. Another founder, Syl Raftery, was not retained as commissioner; a position that was left open for the season. Also during the offseason, Joe Spica, longtime soccer player, purchased the interest in the Joe Lennemann franchise from Woody Selby. Spica took over as player-manager for the team which was renamed Kutis after their new sponsor. Without a sponsor to start the season, the McMahon Pontiac franchise returned to its default name as the Raiders. That only lasted the first month of the season as the team gained a new sponsor and changed name to the Zenthoefer Furs in early November. The Mike Breheny Furnture and Joe Simpkins clubs returned to round out the league membership.
The league again returned to Sportsman's Park and scheduled a split-season schedule with nine games per half. The end of the first half saw Zenthoefer Furs and Kutis tied on both points and goal differential at the top of the table. Because of that, the league scheduled a playoff to break the tie. On Sunday, November 26, Zenthoefer Furs beat Kutis 4-2 before 1258 to take home the first half title.
During the season, the SLMSL teams also played National Open Cup matches between each other to see which club would emerge out of the Missouri District. Those games counted both for the NOC competition and in the SLMSL standings. On January 21, 1951, halfway through the league season, the Joe Simpkins team beat Zenthoefer Furs 3-1 before 1305 at Sportsman's Park in an upset to win the NOC Missouri final.
The Zenthoefers also won the second half title over second-place Simpkins. The usual round robin two-defeats-and-out league playoffs began a week after the end of the regular season. After two rounds, the league playoffs took a pause to allow Joe Simpkins to play in the NOC Western Semifinal. On April 1, Simpkin traveled to Sparta Field in Chicago to face Sparta in that semifinal match. The game was tied 2-2 after regulation but Sparta scored during the two 15-minute extra periods to win the match knocking Simpkins out of the NOC.
Five days later, the Joe Simpkins club beat Mike Brehenys 2-1 to make it into the final round of the SLMSL playoffs. Sportsman's Park became unavailable for soccer at the end of March so the rest of the league playoffs were held at Walsh Stadium. The win against the Brehenys put Simpkins in the final round against Zenhoefers. Simpkins had already lost one game while the Zenthoefers had won both of their first two matches. As such, Simpkins had to beat Zenthoefers twice in a row while the Furs only had to win one out of two possible matches.
On April 8, Joe Simpkins pulled another upset beating Zenthoefer Furs 2-1 at Walsh Stadium. The league playoffs would be determined the following Sunday at Public Schools Stadium. For the big finale, the SLMSL decided to play 45-minute halves rather than the usual 35-minutes halves. The game ended scoreless after regulation time. League rules stated the teams would play two sets of eight-minute overtime periods until one team one. After three overtime periods, Al Fink finally scored for Zenthoefers in the fourth to win the title for the Furs.
Just over a month later, the Zenthoefers (reinforced by many of the best players in St. Louis) faced Eintracht Frankfurt in a friendly. A large crowd of 6078 at Public Schools Stadium saw the Zenthoefer team beat Eintracht 2-1 off goals by Amiel Muniz and Harry Keough.
©2022 by Daniel Creel. All rights reserved.