ST. LOUIS, Mo. - St. Louis was once classified as the Soccer Capital of the United States due to the early years of Bethlehem Steel, Stix, Baer, and Fuller, and Ben Miller teams that started the winning tradition of St. Louis soccer.
On Wednesday, April 29, Saint Louis FC players and coaches got a firsthand look at the city's rich soccer history with a tour of the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame.
"The overall theme of our club is to link the past to the present," General Manager Jeremy Alumbaugh said. "We're all about making new history."
A few St. Louis soccer greats such as Bill McDermott, Jim Leeker, John Schneider, and Pete Sorber led the team through the museum and shared their own memories of great soccer moments.
"There were no other cities in the U.S. that could compete against St. Louis," Leeker, the Hall of Fame President, said. "It was said that the best level of competition was in our own backyard."
Displayed in the museum are historic photographs, jerseys, and memorabilia of famous St. Louis soccer legends, including the five jerseys of the St. Louis men that represented the U.S. National Team in the 1950 World Cup. The team upset England in what is still considered one of the greatest upsets in sports history.
St. Louis native and midfielder Brandon Barklage reminisced on seeing his old soccer coaches Tom Howe and Terry Michler on the walls of the historic museum.
"I think it's important for every member of this organization to have a good feel of what the history of St. Louis soccer is all about and the pride that we take in this sport," Barklage added.
For Leeker, it is his dream that there will never be an end to the tradition of St. Louis soccer.
"Some say that winning is contagious," Leeker said. "Let's hope for an epidemic."
Saint Louis FC will be in action on Thursday night when it hosts Toronto FC II. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM.