100 Years of U.S. Soccer: Celebrating the Evergreen Staters Who Contributed to America's First Soccer Century
On April 5, 1913 — nearly a year to the day after the sinking of the Titanic and 14 months before the start of the first World War — a small band of devoted "football" fanatics formed the United States of America Football Association. In fact, America's soccer governing body would not have the word "soccer" in its name for another three decades, when it became the United States Soccer Football Association, later dropping "football" altogether to become the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) we know today.
In the century since, U.S. Soccer has grown from a ragtag group of European expatriates to one of the world's most formidable soccer powers, a perennial FIFA World Cup participant and home to one of the world's fastest-growing professional leagues. If the last century was about establishing a firm foothold in the global soccer consciousness, the next one will be about taking significant steps forward — not just making World Cup finals, but winning them; not just having a strong professional league, but having the best professional league.
And make no mistake — our own Evergreen State has played a significant role in America's soccer achievements over the last 100 years. Many of these key individuals — from the players and coaches who had a hand in iconic victories, to the organizers and administrators who oversaw key programs and developments — are profiled in Washington Youth Soccer's new History Book, released online late last year.
Over the course of the next year, we'll highlight 11 of the key Washington Youth Soccer contributors who have shaped U.S. Soccer — and by extension, Washington Youth Soccer — into what those organizations are today. If you have a suggestion for us, please contact Kristen Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We started appropriately, at the beginning. Washington Youth Soccer co-founder and former U.S. Women's National Team coach Mike Ryan was an icon of U.S. Soccer for nearly 40 years, coaching the U.S. women to their first win, and hosting the first-ever meeting of Washington Youth Soccer in his living room, as detailed in last month's PlayOn!
This month, we focus on another pioneer of soccer not only in Washington, but also in the United States — Karl Grosch.
Grosch — who served as president of Washington Youth Soccer from 1970 to 1977 and was co-founder of the Federal Way Youth Soccer Association — was one of the founding fathers of US Youth Soccer, helping to draft the initial US Youth Soccer constitution, bylaws and rules and regulations in 1974 with fellow Hall of Fame member Don Greer and Robert Nessler. He is a member of the Halls of Fame of both Washington Youth Soccer and US Youth Soccer.
As Grosch recalls it, the three men spent three days mapping out US Youth Soccer's organization. Although it was revolutionary at the time, their goal was to provide a democratic structure to create uniform rules and guidelines to facilitate intrastate, interstate and international play. Their first draft of the bylaws was handwritten.
In addition to co-creating US Youth Soccer, Grosch was the co-founder of the Federal Way Youth Soccer Association in 1967, and was President of Washington Youth Soccer from 1970-77, was a licensed referee for both youth and adult games, and co-founded the Washington Youth Soccer Referee Association.
In 1974, He was appointed as the first US Youth Soccer Region IV commissioner. He was a member of the USSF National Planning Committee from 1983-1984 and was the chairman from 1984-1985.