Soccer hot spot

The world sport, without a doubt, is soccer, but its popularity within the United States has always lagged.  St. Louis, however, has long been a U.S. soccer hot spot. 

Slay's soccer days

Mayor Francis Slay

Like St. Louis, Francis Slay (Mayor 2001-)has soccer in his background.

After a successful high school career at St. Mary's, Slay went to Quincy College, where he was an unrecruited walk-on.  He won a place on the soccer team and was a significant part of three Quincy NAIA championships.  He even met his wife-to-be at a soccer game.

Essential soccer skills : key tips and techniques to improve your game.
New York : DK, 2011.
  1. Includes content previously published in The Soccer Book. -- T.p. & t.p. verso.
  2. Includes index.
  3. The basics: The rules -- Using set pieces -- The offside rule -- Fouls and infringements -- The officials -- Shirts, shorts, and socks -- Shoes -- Protective gear -- The ball -- The goal -- The field -- Player positions: Goalkeepers -- Defenders -- Midfielders -- Forwards -- Individual skills: Anatomy of a player -- Warming up -- Training -- Controlling the ball -- Passing -- Running with the ball -- Stepovers -- Spins and turns -- Fakes -- Shooting -- Volleying -- Heading -- Throw-ins and corners -- Free-kicks -- Penalties -- Goalkeeping -- Tackling -- Freestyle skills -- Injuries -- Teamwork: Teamwork key concepts -- Formations -- Defensive strategies -- Attacking strategies -- Set pieces -- Managers and coaches -- Anatomy of a club -- Index.
Walter Dean Myers and Ross Workman.
New York, NY : HarperTeen, c2011.
Told in their separate voices, thirteen-year-old soccer star Kevin and police sergeant Brown, who knew his father, try to keep Kevin out of juvenile hall after he is arrested on very serious charges.
The complete soccer goalkeeper
Tim Mulqueen with Mike Woitalla.
Champaign, IL : Human Kinetics, c2011.
Shut down the opponent and stop every shot. Only The Complete Soccer Goalkeeper will show you how to combine awareness, technique, and physical conditioning to anticipate the opponent's every move.
The soccer book : the sport, the teams, the tactics, the cups
[writers David Goldblatt, Johnny Acton].
New York : DK, 2010.
Whether you want to bend it like Beckham or dribble like Ronaldinho, The Soccer Bookis the ultimate visual guide-revised and updated with the results of the World Cup 2010-to soccer skills, rules, tactics, and coaching, illustrating every aspect of every variant of the sport more clearly, and in more detail, than any other book has done before.
The complete encyclopedia of soccer
Keir Radnedge.
London : Carlton Books, 2010.
It's what Pelé called the "Beautiful Game" and what millions of fans gather to cheer on. Soccer is showing increasing popularity worldwide, and revamped professional leagues continue to shine in the World Cup. This carefully researched book describes the history of the sport, its legendary players and clubs, notable coaches, and stadiums. There is in-depth information on major competitions at both national and club levels as well as sections on the laws, tactics, and equipment. Complementing the text are lovingly chosen photographs bringing to life the characters and moments that have shaped the world of soccer.
World Cup 2010 : the indispensable guide to soccer and geopolitics
Steven D. Stark & Harrison Stark.
Indianapolis, Ind. : Blue River Press, 2010.
The 2010 World Cup will be the first ever held on the continent of Africa. This book features introductory essays on the cultural importance of soccer, the World cup, this tournament in particular, and on African soccer. The book contains an introductory essay, table, analysis of team players, coach, history, flag, foods, and uniforms for each of the 32 teams.

When the 1950 national soccer team pulled off its legendary World Cup defeat of  England (as shown in the 2005 film, The Game of Their Lives), the nucleus of that team was from St. Louis.  Immigrants have been behind the local soccer success--Italians to start with, with players from Bosnia and even Botswana in more recent years.

St. Louis club and high school teams have been superb, but the standard-bearer for the area has been the St. Louis University Billikens.  The SLU team won the first NCAA title ever, in 1959, and has remained a national power ever since.  No American college program has participated more often in  NCAA tournaments, or won as many titles .

The real surprise with St. Louis's soccer success is how homespun it is.  Early Billiken teams were made up almost exclusively of St. Louis athletes.  Even today, better than half the team is typically local. 

People expected St. Louis teams to do well without extra effort.   A case in point would be Harry Keough, who coached SLU to five national titles as a part-time employee.  His main job was with the post office.

Some SLU stars go on to be international soccer stars.  St. Louisan Brian McBride's SLU career left him with school records for goals and assists.  The first pick of the MLS's original draft, he's starred for the Columbus Crew and Britain's Fulham Club.  Described as 'the best American ever, in the air,' he is the only U.S. player to score in two World Cups and is second in all-time international goals.

St. Louis is no longer as dominant as it once was; soccer has caught on across the country, and other colleges are now sharing the national spotlight, but SLU remains a national power.  The years in which the Billikens do not take part in the post-season tournament are not just disappointments, but genuine statistical anomalies.  St. Louis has dominated collegiate soccer to an extent that other local sports try to match.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff