Why we play in the USLPA, by Michael Fricker

In a climate of American soccer where organizational barriers are nonexistent and there’s a new regional or national league starting up every day, soccer social media is an alphabet soup of teams, leagues and fan sites.

I imagine some of these folks pulling the old Merriam Webster off the shelf to look for synonyms of any of the words; great, elite, professional, premier, etc. The results are names that are to me quite generic. Then I laugh to myself realizing I doubt any of these kinds of people actually have a paper book let alone a shelf it sits on. They probably used a search engine and I’m 1000% sure it isn’t duck duck go.

A devil’s advocate may ask, what’s more generic than “United” in our league’s name?

But if you know the history of the league, you’ll know that being united, is the reason it exists at all. The history speaks of “Goodwill Games,” of soccer in the 1950s between American soccer clubs and international visitors. Connections over those games brought clubs together in the formation of a new league in 1959. Many of these clubs still run the league today.

So, why do we play in the United League?

There’s a story about Bill Wilkinson coming to play with the German Hungarians. When asked to come play, he asked a simple question, who else is playing there?

Whoever was mentioned in the answer must have been pretty good, knowing that not only did Wilkinson join the team, but later coached the team, involved his children as well. Today the Wilkinson’s are still involved in not just soccer at our club but in the administration of the club as well.

“Securing the commitment of the prominent clubs, Phoenix SC, German Hungarians, and Vereinigung Erzgebirge was the pledge that the Reading Americans, Schwarzwald Kickers, and Kolping SC needed to commit to founding a new league.”

-United Soccer League of Pennsylvania, A History

The start of the United League, as the historical quote above shows, had a similar idea. A new league? Well, who’s playing in it? Notice the question wasn’t, what stance does the league have on promotion & relegation or pay to play.

Why do the German Hungarians play in the USLPA?

Erzgebirge plays in that league. Lighthouse, Colonial, West Chester all play there. Phoenix Sport Club and the Ukrainian Nationals are mainstays as well. And all of these clubs and many more attract great newer clubs like Lancaster City FC and Inter Vidas.

We play in the United League because of the roster of clubs we get to play with and against. That’s at least the reason the German Hungarians play in the United League.

Michael N. Fricker

Featured image by Michael N. Fricker

(Canon Eos Rebel T7. EF-75-300mm f4-5.6. ISO 200. 0ev. f5. 1/1600 s)

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