Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

September 25, 1968: Israel 4, United States 0

As promised, tonight we look back at the U.S. national team's last full international match in Philadelphia.

September 25, 1968: Israel 4, United States 0

As promised, tonight we look back at the U.S. national team's last full international match in Philadelphia: a 4-0 loss to Israel on September 25, 1968. It was played at the now-defunct Temple Stadium, and drew a crowd reported at 7,000. Here's how the story was played in the sports section of the next morning's Inquirer:

There was also a box score on an inside page, which I've replicated below the game story.

Israelis Defeat U.S. Team, 4-0; Shpigler Stars

By George Butz
Of The Inquirer Staff

Russian-born Mordechai Shpigler made a shambles of the international soccer match Wednseday night at Temple Stadium as he led the Israeli Olympic team to a 4-0 decision over the United State World Cup squad before an estimated 7500. He scored all four goals.

But, Shpigler, who has garnered 30 international caps (an honor in Continental soccer) waited until the 26th minute of the second half before he put on his brilliant sharpshooting exhibition.

Breaking a scoreless tie, Shpigler netted a goal from 15 yards out and added three more points in the next 19 minutes, getting his fourth tally a mintue before the final whistle. He scored two goals against Gary Delong and the final two while substitute Sander Feher was minding the nets.

MOSTLY ON DEFENSE

The U.S. team was on the defense most of the match. Offside calls hampered the American team greatly whenever they managed to draw the bead and start their goal raids.

Statistically, the Israelis were the masters, making seven corner kicked to the losers' three and goalie Zion Digmi, of the visitors, only had to save four threatening goal shots. Delong had to grab four sure-fire liners at his network.

In a preliminary contest, Ed Blaney's goal three minutes before the end earned North Catholic High a 1-1 tie with defending city champion Frankford.

Frankford rallied in the first half when Ken Reimer lofted a high shot from 20 yards just under the bar on the right side of the net.

CORNER KICKS: Before the teams tussled, the Philadelphia Police and Firemen's Band rendered lively tunes . . . The school game had the early arrivals cheering.

Coach Emmanuel Shefer, of the Israelis, commenting on the Owls' stadium turf before the match: "It is comparable to any of the fields we've played on . . . It is very good." The turf served as a billiard table for his proteges later on. They maneuvered the ball much better than the U.S. cuppers, but they lacked a scoring punch in the first half. Then, in the second half, they turned loose Shpigeler.

[Yes, there is an extra "e" in the player's last name in that reference - Ed.]

The entire forward line for Israel, including Reuven Jung, Giora Shpigel, the team's clever ball control artist, Rachamim Talbi and Jeshua Faigenbaum, shone brilliantly.

  Pos.  
Digmi G
DeLong
Bar RFB
Kofler
Belo LFB
Clear
Rosen RHB
Bachmeirer
Shvager CHB
Gansler
Rosental LHB
Krat
Talbi OR
Albrecht
Shpigel IR
Millar
Faigenbaum CF
Roy
Shpigler IL
Stritzl
Jung OL
Maliszewski

Israel ------------ 0     4-4
U.S. -------------- 0     0-0
ISRAEL SCORING-Shpigler, 4. SUB-
STITUTIONS-Borba for Jung, Feher
for DeLong. REFEREE-Jim Black.
LINESMEN - Gene Herman and Al
Heery.

The positions are: Goalkeeper, right fullback, left fullback, right halfback, center halfback, left halfback, outside right, inside right, center forward, inside left, outside left.

That implies a 2-3-5 formation, which was known as the "Pyramid" formation at the time. The two fullbacks played in front of the goalkeeper, the three halfbacks played in what we would call midfield, and the five forwards played in a wide, inverted V on the front line. The formation was pretty old at that point, but the 4-4-2 that we know now wasn't the standard yet. You can find more information about this on the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's website

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
About this blog
Soft Pretzel Logic is Philly.com's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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