Italian Influences In New York Football Scene
New York City is a massive and historic city. The city is known for it’s immigrants, Ellis Island, the entry into the States for most people is in New York City.
Groups tend to stay with their own countrymen. They would also set up social clubs which tended to turn into football clubs. This is where this latest column subject comes from.
We have in this series already talked about a couple of clubs in the area. We have talked about new clubs in New York City FC, and historic clubs like New York Cosmos. This time we are going to chat about a club that has been around since 1949, the Brooklyn Italians.
They are considered the best semi-professional club in the nation. They were founded in 1949 by John DeVivo, and were part of the original Metropolitan Soccer League. DeVivo was an Italian immigrant.
Before the 1956-57 season the club joined the American Soccer League (ASL). This is one of the many iterations of the league. In their first season in the ASL, the Italians finished second to eventual champions New York Hakoah. The Italians’ time in the ASL was a mixed bag, as they were just a club. They never won the league, and their best position on the table was second. Their most common finish was fourth. After the 1963-64 season, the Italians left the ASL. For a while after they would play in local amatuer leagues.
The club had the propensity to change its name throughout their career. In 1961 they changed their name to Inter-Brooklyn Italians merging with another club becoming Inter SC. That was not the last time they changed their name. Next in 1963 they changed their name to Boca Juniors, in homage to the Argentina giant. Over the next twenty years they changed their names at various times to Palermo and to Brooklyn Dodgers. They reverted back to the Italians for good in 1991.
They have won the National Cup twice in their existence, which is now known as the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and is just like the FA Cup. The first was in 1979, when they played in Chicago at Winnimac Stadium against Croatia SC. Then in 1991 they played the Richardson Rockets of Texas. The Italians won 1-0 courtesy of a seventh minute goal from Ernst Inneh. It was a hard fought match as the Italians were down to ten men as Bill Manning was shown a red card. This is the same Bill Manning who is President of MLSE – the owners of both Toronto FC in Major League Soccer, and the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.
The club has a great youth system, that has won many cups. Plenty of players have played in local amatuer leagues. Since the nineties, roughly 800 youth players have passed through the club. These players have gone on to play in many other leagues. In 1997 the Under 14 side won the Enzo Ferrari Cup in Maranello, Italy.
They now play in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), and have had some great success in the league. They finished in first place in the Atlantic Division in 2011 and 2013, and second in 2010 and 2012. The club also travels the world to play in various cups, most notably the Dallas Cup.