Few leagues in the United States can boast of a richer tradition or more illustrious past than the east coast’s Cosmopolitan Soccer League.
U.S. World Cup star Claudio Reyna honed his skills in its junior league. The New York Cosmos were spawned there, and some of the world’s top clubs were regular visitors during the "golden years" of the amateur game in the 50’s and 60’s
Now surpassing over 90 years of existence, the league, formerly the German American Football Association, has, undeniable, carved out a distinct niche for itself on the American Soccer landscape.
There are 106 clubs in the CSL’s 9 divisions today, conveying the New York metropolitan area. This number includes the reserve teams that First Division as well as the teams in our Over 30 Division.
THE EARLY YEARS
What was once a German inspired collection of teams in the beginning has over the decades evolved into a truly cosmopolitan refection of the metropolitan area’s demographics. Clubs in the CSL represent the spectrum in ethnicity and bring a high level of enthusiasm and some outstanding talent to the field every Sunday.
The league was launched as the German American Soccer League by five clubs back in 1923. The five, S.C. New York. Wiener Sport Club, D.S.C. Brooklyn, Hoboken F.C., and Newark S.C. were joined by four more, Swiss F.C., Elizabeth S.C., Eintracht S.C., and Germania S.C. a year later. The league was later re-organized into the German American Football Association (GAFA) in 1927.
Member clubs didn’t take long to make their presence felt at the national level. As early as 1929, Newark S.C.’s predominantly German side had reached the final of the National Amateur Cup, losing to Heidelberg of Pennsylvania, while D.S.C Brooklyn would go one better, defeating Castle Shannon of Pittsburgh in 1936 to bring the cup to the GAFA. In the same year, Hatikvoh lifted the National Junior Challenge Cup, three years after the GAFA had formed a junior division.
Many former pros found themselves moving to the States because of political or economic oppression in order to find a better life. What the league ended up getting were some world class players. Ukrainian S.C., now in the Metro Division was once a power house in the GAFA, was one club that owed its success to good immigrant talent.
THE COMMUNIST EFFECT
Established in 1947 by Ukrainian émigrés fleeing communist oppression, they won the U.S. Junior Challenge in 1959, the U.S. National Challenge Cup in 1965 and the GAFA title in 1964, ’65 and ’66 as well as the Manning Cup in 1969
Still, fewer political events have had as much impact on the shift in a league as the 1956 Hungarian Revolution had on GAFA. "All of a sudden, we had top class Hungarian players coming over" recalls Wolfgang Radermacher, former player and coach for Eintracht. The results were four championships in a row for New York Hungaria S.C. who took on a lot of newcomers, between the 1958-59 and 1962-63 seasons.
The Hungarian exiles -- among them the Geza brothers, goalkeeper Heni who was capped 19 times for the great Hungarian national side of the 50’s and Nikolas, a defender - also bagged the National Challenge Cup for Hungaria S.C. in 1961 and ’62.
So dominate was the Hungaria side that the U.S. State Department selected them to represent the United States on an 11 mach Middle Eastern tour in 1962. They returned undefeated.
But the transplanted Hungarians’ greatest victory of sorts had come earlier when a few of them were picked for the GAFA All-Star team to face crack German side Kaiserslautern in 1957. Back in 1954, West Germany had stunned Hungary 3-2 to win the World Cup in Kiaserslautern, the Hungarians in the GAFA select were primed for revenge. They got it in a 2-1 win.
NY COSMOS & THE CSL
The All-Star tradition, first began in 1930 would later give birth to the New York Cosmos in 1968. "The Cosmos was our team, our select team" CSL’s former secretary emeritus Fritz Marth said of the side that in the 70’s lured Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and other world stars to the North American Soccer League.
In addition to that, until the demise of the Cosmos, in the 80’s, the CSL received $12,000 annually from the Cosmos’ last owners, Warner Communications. Among the CSL’s greatest achievement over the years has been its commitment to the development of youth soccer through its junior league.
Part of this has been through the work of individuals, going back to the 30’s , like Harry A. Kraus, the first junior chairman of the GAFA who later served as a Vice President of the USSFA; Walter Marburg, a top junior league administrator in the 60’s and coach Miguel Reyna.
The father of U.S. international Claudio Reyna, Miguel’s Union County junior teams undertook successful South American tours, won numerous league and invitational tournaments and placed many players in college teams. Claudio, needless to say, is the most famous Union County alumnus to date.
The CSL continues to provide the highest level of amateur soccer in the area and with our work with the NY Red Bulls, we hope that our players will be able to make it to the next level.