American soccer writing, history & data.
Although an estimated 65% of players from the prior season were now in some branch of service, president Winton Barker announced in early August that the St. Louis Soccer League would open its 1918-19 schedule as usual. The same teams and managers returned from the previous season but with two major changes.
The first was the loss of the St. Leo's name from the ranks of professional soccer. At the end of September, Harry McCarthy, manager of the club, announced that the team would, starting on the first day of the season, September 29, 1918, that the team would play under the St. Louis Screw Company name. The club had made every effort to continue as the St. Leos, but the higher prices of equipment made it impossible to finance the club as before. McCarthy said that, after the war, the St. Leo's name would probably return.
After two weeks of play, the 1918 influenza pandemic hit the St. Louis area. From October 13 through November 17, 1918, SLSL play was put on hold due to a public health quarantine. The Sunday doubleheaders at Cardinal Park returned again on November 24 after a six week delay.
Bethlehem Steel Co. F.C. played a three-game series at Cardinal Park during the holiday break. On December 28, Bethlehem Steel beat Innisfails 3-0 before 1000 at Cardinal Field led by a brace of goals by St. Louis star Harry Ratican. The Pennsylvania club drew 1-1 to a St. Louis Soccer League all-star team the next day before 5000. And, on New Year's Day, another St. Louis Soccer League all-star team defeated Bethlehem Steel 4-3. Late January, the SLSL adopted a rule allowing the substitution of two players who needed to leave the game due to injury or illness reportedly becoming the first professional league to pass such a rule.
The original schedule was planned to have the last matches on March 9, but the season was extended three more weeks because a plan to bring out-of-teams to St. Louis after the season never materialized and the season was five games behind due to the influenza ban. With one match left to play against each other, Innisfails and Scullin Steel were tied at the top of the table with 22 points each. The final match would be played until one team won. In front of 3000, the clubs ended regulation tied at 1-1 which necessitated two 15-minute extra periods. Innisfail scored in the first period but Scullin Steel scored two in the second extra period to win the season championship.
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