Saturday, December 20, 2014

A lesson in Philadelphia's soccer history

As you may have seen by now, I have a story in this morning's Inquirer about Philadelphia native and U.S. World Cup legend Walter Bahr. Now learn about another Philadelphia soccer legend.

A lesson in Philadelphia's soccer history

This is one of two posts that accompany my story about Walter Bahr in this morning's Inquirer. The other is the full transcript of my interview with Bahr that I used to set up the article. Click here to read it.

Also be sure to check out Jeff Gammage's A1 story in the Inquirer about the Philadelphia Union's ticket sales so far, and this gallery of new stadium construction photos. Believe it or not, the Union's first game is two months from today.

Earlier this month at the NSCAA convention, Philadelphia native Walter Bahr received the 2010 Walt Chyzowych Lifetime Achievment Award.

Bahr played on the 1950 U.S. World Cup team that upset England, and with the rematch coming this summer he has been back in the spotlight.

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Between the award, the World Cup and the return of professional soccer to Philadelphia, this seemed like a great time to talk to Bahr about his unique perspective on soccer's history in this country and this city.

It's also a good time to take a look back at some stories about Bahr from the Inquirer's archives. Start with this column by Bob Ford that ran on April 27, 2005. That was when the movie The Game of Their Lives, which tells the story of that 1950 U.S.-England game, was released.

The second is this profile of Bahr by Jeff Gammage that ran on February 28, 2008, the day that Major League Soccer officially announced that Philadelphia would be getting a team.

And finally, there's this piece by Mike Jensen that ran on August 3, 2003, when Manchester United and Barcelona christened Lincoln Financial Field. The story looks back at a visit United made to Philadelphia in 1952 to play a team of Philadelphia all-stars that included Bahr.

Now that you know about Bahr, you also need to know a few things about Chyzowich. Chyzowych emigrated here from Ukraine and attended Temple University. He played professional soccer from 1958 to 1974, with the ASL's Philadelphia Ukranian Nationals and later the NPSL's Philadelphia Spartans.

Chzowych had a long playing career, but his greatest impact on soccer was as a coach. He was in charge at Philadelphia University (it was Textile at the time) starting in 1961, and in 1966 he founded the All-America Soccer Camp. He was later named as the U.S. Soccer Federation's first ever director of coaching.

Chyzowych died on September 2, 1994, at the age of 57. Just a few months earlier, he got to watch his adopted country host the World Cup for the first time - and he was one of many people who helped bring the tournament to the United States.

The Walt Chyzowych Lifetime Achievment Award was established in 1996. Previous winners include longtime University of North Carolina women's soccer coach Anson Dorrance (1997) and former U.S. men's national team coaches Bob Gansler (2000) and Bruce Arena (2003).

In addition to his work at UNC, Dorrance was the first ever coach of the U.S. women's national team, starting in 1985.

"Walt was one of my mentors," Dorrance told me over the weekend. "I was exposed to the cutting edge of the game, and Walt was one of the driving forces."

Dorrance and Gansler both came to know Bahr as a liaison for U.S. national teams traveling abroad.

"We traveled around the world and it always struck me as a little bit curious, because he was better-known in the rest of the world than he was back home," Gansler said. "He was one of the most important ambassadors that U.S. Soccer has had, ever."

During the award ceremony, Philadelphia Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz announced that Chyzowych will be the first person inducted into the team's "Legends Room" at the new stadium in Chester. It's a safe bet that Bahr will be there to see it. Now you know why.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
About this blog
The Goalkeeper is your home for the latest news about the Philadelphia Union, Major League Soccer, U.S. national teams and the rest of the world's most popular sport. It's also a place for fans to gather and celebrate the culture of soccer and its unique place on the sports landscape.

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

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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