If the Bethlehem soccer team, finalist with New Bedford for the American Soccer League championship, survives the final round or even if the team is eliminated in the playoff over the weekend, the achievement of the club in the playoff games to date will be inscribed in the annals of American soccer as the most remarkable, spectacular and sensational feat ever accomplished by an American team. Against all obstacles, Bethlehem survived this supreme test to ride triumphant into the final round, the stake of which will be supremacy of the American League. By virtue of its victorious waltz, Bethlehem today must be acclaim the greatest soccer team in America.
No Primrose Path
Briefly reviewing the campaign of the Bethlehem team in the playoff series it is convincingly evident that the local outfit did not profit by the breaks. The elements and last but not least, the crippled players and other indisposed by illness, were the odds against Bethlehem and incidentally sent the Steelmen into the playoff games a rank outsider. Slapped from pillar to post and backed to the wall in desperation, sheer grit, stamina, aggressiveness and fight brought the Steelmen through to victory in no doubt the hardest string of games and under the most devastating conditions any team was ever before called upon to meet.
The Nats Nose In
The New York Nationals horned their way into a series in which they had no business to be and it fell to Bethlehem to dispose of the National Cup winners. In the meantime Boston and New Bedford were idle. In the first game played in Bethlehem, the Steelmen got anything but the best of the issue insofar as the officiating was concerned for Mose Bloom was plenty off that day and more or less blind when it came to Gotham infractions. In spite, Bethlehem notched a 2 to 1 victory. With the second game scheduled as a twilight affair in New York, the Steelmen were given only an outside chance of winning and then surprised the soccer world with a convincing and stinging 4 to 0 victory. The defeat was probably the most humiliating experienced by the cup champions in the entire season.
And Then Boston
Boston at Boston was the next round, Bethlehem journeying to the Hub a badly spent team while the Bean Eaters fresh after a prolonged rest, won their home game by the score of 3 to 1. That game was not won by Boston by any superior display of merit but rather with the elements of a strong wind in its favor and a team nigh on the verge of exhaustion. Hawthorne Field, Brooklyn, was the scene of the next conflict, and Bethlehem went into that game leaving a flock of cripples behind and at the same time being forced to press into service players who were not sound. So acute was the situation that an outside goalie had to be procured to make it possible to field a complete team. The score of 4 to 0 is self-explanatory of the Steelmen's gallant fight in overcoming a two-goal handicap to emerge the survivor or the next and final round.
The League's Stupidity
Bethlehem was also a victim of the league's stupidity, the top moguls apparently little concerned whether Bethlehem survived or not. In arranging the playoff the Steelmen were elected to play three of their most important and hardest games of the season in a period of six days. They did and won two of the three games, annexing the fourth after a rest of a week. Three of the four games were played in foreign territory and two of these games were won in a most convincing manner. In the four games Bethlehem scored a total of 11 goals, an average of almost three per games against a National Cup champion and the winner of the first half of the league season. A total of four goals were scored against Bethlehem. In two of the games the opponents were shut out, Boston and the Nationals each falling to score in the second tilt with the Steelmen.
Now for New Bedford
The championship now hangs in balance with Bethlehem and New Bedford to decide the issue over the coming weekend. One game will naturally be played in New Bedford and the other on a field of Bethlehem's choice which will probably be somewhere in the metropolitan district. In New Bedford the Bethlehem players will probably meet one of the most consistent playing clubs in the league. The New Englanders were prominent in the first half race, always at the top and equally as prominent in the second half schedule, qualifying for the playoff in both halves. In the home and home series against Fall River, the other club to qualify, the Marksmen were eliminated by New Bedford. If Bethlehem can continue its remarkable pace, no adjectives would be strong enough to play homage and shower tribute deserved.
Not One, But the Gang
"The club fought and fought every minute of the way. No one individual star but the whole gang playing as a team and each contributing his little mite," describes the game of those who witnessed the clash in Brooklyn last night. The forwards simply went wild, rendering the Boston defense asunder, while the defense was concrete at all times. Boston was entirely bereft of organization or individuality and completely demoralized when Bethlehem unleashed its barrage of goals.