Although the soccer season is still in its infancy, local followers had a good chance to draw a comparison between the playing of the Bethlehem club with those in the National League and the prophets now predict that there is nothing in the National League, National and American Cup competitions that can prevent the steel workers from romping through with all three laurels. Nothing, unless something unlooked for, should occur to break up the steady working Bethlehem machine.
On next Saturday the Merchant Ship team of Bristol will be the attraction on the Bethlehem Steel athletic field and fans and players maintain a strict confidence that the much touted shipbuilders sill prove no menace to the Bethlehem campaign. With two former Bethlehem players in the lineup it is most certain that every effort will be made to down the Steel Workers and a hard game is assured. In a National League contest yesterday, Paterson F. C., the team defeated by the Bethlehem in the opening National League contest of the season, defeated the Bristolites in a hard fought game by the score of 2 goals to one. The winning score was made by Paterson in the final period.
The "flu" has made no inroads on the local team although reports from all through the east indicate that quite a few players are battling the disease. All the players returned home from New York in fine condition and this morning resumed their labors in the Bethlehem steel plant.
In the game with Paterson, Harry Peace, the former Phillies baseball player, was missing in the Bristol lineup. Pearce is the Merchant's star goal tender and is laid up with a sever attack of Spanish influenza. "Scotty" Wilson, the halfback, played goal.
Hopes are that the quarantine will be lifted before next Saturday and in view of this Manager Sheridan has notified the players that the practice will be carried on just the same as under normal conditions. The three days a week plan for practice will not be abolished for some time and in order to have the team in good condition and not caught napping, Manager Sheridan will not take any chances by giving the players a lay-off this week.
With six strong teams in the American League, the former professional circuit will start the season next Saturday with splendid prospects even under these trying conditions.
Harry Ratican and "Whitey" Fleming again promise to be the most consistent scorers for the Bethlehem teams. In each of the two games played thus far this season, Ratican lead off with the first goal and was followed shortly afterward by a score by Fleming.
The inclusions of Burnett and Branigan should greatly strengthen the Bristol forward line is the tribute paid these former Bethlehem players. Brannigan, it is said, hails from St. Louis, is one of the fastest and trickiest wingers in the country.
Even though New York ship is paired with Bethlehem at the latter place in the first round of the American Cup competition, the New Yorkers expect to make a good showing. The Gotham players will start in active training next week, expressly to be in good form to tackle the cup holders.
Jack Cooper, the well-known center halfback of the Victors, who has been at the front for some time, has written Willie Kirkpatrick of the Bethlehem team, that he is feeling fine and so far has been fortunate not to get in the front of a beastly Hun shell.
Soccer should be given a good boost this year with the various shipyards taking up the sport. None of the players, however, will be allowed to play unless they are doing bona fide work, thereby doing their bit for Uncle Sam.