United Soccer was organized in the 1950s as a promoter of exhibition or Goodwill Games of soccer between international clubs and the predominantly ethnic soccer clubs on the east coast, particularly in Philadelphia. What would grow out of that is the United Soccer League of Pennsylvania.
In the late 1950s, around the time of a match with F.C. Berlin, a few men from the organization came up with the idea to form a "German League." In developing the new league, they would need the support of the established soccer clubs in order to take on the long-standing leagues and soccer associations. The securing of the commitment of the prominent clubs Phoenix SC, United German Hungarians, and Vereinigung Erzgebirge was the pledge that the Reading Americans, Schwarzwald Kickers and Kolping S.C. needed to commit to founding a new league. By the time of the founding, the idea of a strictly "German League" was dropped (although the founding clubs were all of German background). In 1959, the United Soccer League of Pennsylvania, Inc. was founded with the following men as Founders and Incorporators:
- Stephen Augenbaugh (Phoenix SC)
- John Benkert (Schwarzwald Kickers)
- Frank Follmer (United German Hungarians)
- Werner Fricker (United German Hungarian)
- Erwin Green (Kolping SC)
- Alfred Hahn (Vereinigung Erzgebirge)
- George Heinzelmann, Jr (Vereinigung Erzgebirge)
- Gustav Ingold (Vereinigung Erzgebirge)
- Hans Kompauer (Schwarzwald Kickers)
- Werner Kraheck (Reading Americans)
- Carl Locher (Phoenix SC)
- John Piatka (United German Hungarians)
- William Robatzek (Phoenix SC)
- Carl Schmollinger (Phoenix SC)
- Herman Trautz (Vereinigung Erzgebirge)
- John Weber (United German Hungarians)
- Karl Zaute (Vereinigung Erzgebirge)
Due to many differences with leaders of the Philadelphia League as well as the East Penn District, this new league was locked out of affiliation with the State Association, as well as the US Soccer Federation. This was not by the founders' choice. The first United Soccer League season was played in 1959-60 with 20 teams, 10 in the Major and 10 in a First Division. The Reading Americans were crowned the first Major Division Champions in 1960.
During the initial two unaffiliated years, the League developed its own cup competitions in order to supplement the fact that the teams could not enter the US National Cups. Phoenix Sport Club's Karl Locher sponsored a Memorial Cup named for his brother Arthur Locher, the Ludwig Michel Cup was donated by Willi Hischmann, and F.C. KÃ?ln Mascot was presented by F.C. KÃ?ln, West Germany and now is in the trophy cases of the United German Hungarians.
The League also developed its own referee recruiting, development, and instruction programs. With the assistance of then US Soccer President Gene Ringsdorf of Maryland, the United Soccer League secured membership in US Soccer and the Eastern Pennsylvania Soccer Association in 1962.
In the years to come, the United League became a powerhouse in amateur soccer in the Northeast Region. The United German Hungarians, by winning 16 Major Division Championships are by far winningest club. The Ukrainian Nationals, playing in the American Soccer League in the 1960s were one of the best teams in the United States at the time, and from the beginning entered their second team in the United Soccer League. The Ukrainians are still a core team of the league today. United League teams have won the US Amateur Cup on three occasions, the German Hungarians in 1965 and Philadelphia Inter in 1973 and 1974.
Teams have consistently participated in all levels of the USASA National Cups, producing continuous Eastern Pennsylvania Champions. The United League has also produced USASA Open Cup Champions, Over-30 Cup Champion, four U.S. Open Cup Champions and several other team finalists in both the Mens and Womens National Cup Competitions. For the 2014-2015 Cup season, United Soccer League teams have won both the EPSA State titles. Vereinigung Erzgebirge captured a third consecutive East Pennsylvania Amateur Cup Championship and West Chester United claimed a fourth consecutive East Pennsylvania Open Cup Championship and went on to win the Werner Fricker US Open Cup.
Many players from the league have played on numerous Select Teams and All-Star teams, while others have joined the professional ranks both at home and abroad. Over 215 organizations have played in the United League. Many present and former members of the league have been selected to the Southeastern Pennsylvania or the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
Administrators from the United League have also been very active in the Eastern Pennsylvania Soccer Association, serving as commissioners and delegates as well as officers, including John Weber, John Piatka, Werner Fricker, Karl Regul, Helmut Schurer, Rudy Schuster, George Heinzelmann, Jack Keoberlein, Aldo D'Aversa, Werner Fricker Jr, Mark Regul, William Wilkinson Jr, Betty Ann Kempf, and Blair Thompson.
For Philadelphia and its surrounding suburban areas, The United Soccer League has dominated the adult amateur soccer landscape for over 50 years. Success on the field by teams and players has provided the opportunity for players who are committed to strong amateur play beyond their development at the youth and school levels. The League has provided the avenue for the development of top-level referees to perform at a very high standard.
New Jersey teams over the years have played in the United Soccer League, including Trenton German-American Kickers, Germania Camden, South Jersey Barons, Ocean City Nor'Easters, and the Philadelphia Flames SC.
For the 2016-17 season, the United Soccer League will again offer a Mens Reserve Division to complement the Majors. While the Womens Majors remains without a Reserve Division, it continues to grow while maintaining it's reputation as the top league in the region. Of the league's 12 clubs, three of the founding members - Phoenix Sport Club, United German Hungarians, and Vereinigung Erzgebirge remain, along with the Ukrainian Nationals, who have been members since the first season.
While the original concept of a "German League" was abandoned early on, the league today still has a very ethnic core with historic German, Ukrainian or other clubs. The league boasts that many of the clubs in the Major Division own and operate their own private playing grounds. This is supplemented by large historic youth clubs such as West Chester United and Fox Chase SC to form a truly American League. The United Soccer League is where the historical ethnic roots of the game meet the new American reality, and create new opportunities for today's highly competitive players and clubs.