US Soccer History: 1959 Open Cup Ukrainians vs. Scots

Soccer goalie Norm Clements of St. Andrew Scots makes a diving save during warmups for the Scots' U.S. Open Cup game with the Ukrainians in Philadelphia. - US Presswire

In 1959 the Philadelphia Ukrainians met the St. Andrews Scots of Detroit in the US Open Cup quarterfinals. The press was on hand to capture it.

In 1959 the Philadelphia Ukrainians met the St. Andrews Scots of Detroit in the US Open Cup quarterfinals. The press was on hand to capture it. The amazing photo above was the result, but what's the story behind the two squads?

The first wave of Ukrainian immigration to America coincided with the American Industrial Revolution. In the same way that Scottish immigrants came to New Jersey to work in the textile factories (as previously discussed here), some 350,000 Ukrainians began to arrive in 1877 as strikebreakers to work in Pennsylvania mines. Before World War I, 70% of Ukrainian Americans lived in Pennsylvania. Another large wave of immigration came after World War II, this time mostly educated Ukrainians who had fled German occupation and had little interest in returning. Link

The Philadelphia Ukrainians joined the American Soccer League in 1957. The ASL at that point was in its 24th year, enjoying relative peace since the soccer wars of 1929-30. They wore white shirts with black shorts and black socks, or a red and black vertical striped change kit.

Two years later, they were a top club in the ASL. The ASL did something that has occasionally been proposed for MLS; the regular season champ was one champion, and rather than playoffs they had a concurrent league cup known as the Lewis Cup. The Ukrainians won the Lewis Cup final in 1959 with a 3-2 defeat of New York Hakoah.

The trophy was actually donated by Edgar Lewis, a VP at Bethlehem Steel (whose soccer club we've also discussed here) in 1925 as the original ASL continued it's dispute with the USFA (nee USSF) over participation in the National Challenge Cup (nee U.S. Open Cup).

Soccer continued to be quite regional in the 1950s, with many smaller regional leagues and cups. One such cup was the Michigan State Cup, which in 1959 was won by St. Andrew Scots. The amateur side representing the Detroit branch of the St. Andrew's society were runners up in the National Amateur Cup and also entered the U.S. Open Cup.

In the U.S. Open Cup of 1959 this professional group of Ukrainians in Philadelphia and this social club of Scots in Detroit met on the pitch. The lead photo depicts a Scot defender and keeper drilling during warmups. It's such a fantastic picture that I had to know the story behind it.

The Scots are wearing kits reminiscent of the Scotland national team, blue shirts with white shorts and blue socks. The circular patch with the cross of St. Andrew is rather large.

The photo is excellent, with the Englishman Norm Clements diving after the ball and U.S. Olympic squad hopeful Sandy Hepburn in mid leap. The photographer must have been on his belly to get the shot.

The Ukrainians would win the aggregate quarterfinal series 3-2, but then lose in the Eastern semifinal to Fall River SC. However they would go on to win two consecutive U.S. Open Cups in 1960 and '61.

The winners of the 1959 U.S. Open Cup? McIlvaine Canvasbacks of San Pedo, CA. Gotta get the bottom of that one soon. Still, here's another story showing that even as late as 1959, soccer was still small, regional, and the immigrants' game.

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