The Doldrums, 1895-1913
It was not long before the powers that be attempted to follow on the ALPF's footsteps at a more financially responsible level. The National Association Football League was formed in 1895 from premier teams of the New York City and New Jersey regional leagues, and struggled through four seasons. By this time, there was a waning enthusiasm exacerbated by the infighting among the various associations. Fan interest and participation were falling, and the NAFBL and the American Cup were both suspended in 1898. Other sports were becoming popular such as Polo and Boxing, and suddenly soccer did not look so important anymore. This would not last for long fortunately.
In 1904, US teams participated in the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis, with Galt Football Club of Canada defeated Christian brothers College 7-0 and St. Rose School 4-0 for the gold medal. This must have sparked some enthusiasm, as the St. Louis Soccer League went professional in 1906, the same year as the NAFBL and the American Cup were revived. By this time, New England was beginning to wane as the premier hotbed of the country and most American Cup winners would come from New Jersey/New York or Philadelphia. The revived National Association Football League, formed by a group of people from regional state and local leagues, consisted of teams, which had previously played in municipal leagues. Originally operating out of the New York-New Jersey area, it eventually added Bethlehem Steel, a powerhouse from eastern Pennsylvania, and the league operated until 1921. This was the first truly successful pro league in the US.
The formation of FIFA in 1904 left the USA on the outside looking in due to the lack of a truly national organizing association. However, the addition of Soccer as an official medal sport for the 1908 Olympics led to increasing interest in international competition (following the hugely successful 1906 tour by Pilgrim FC from England in 1906). FIFA would not recognize either the AFA or the AAFA as a legitimate national body, locked as they were in a bitter war. By this time, the AFA was allied with the English FA, but their actions angered many, and a number of key regional associations switched allegiance to the AAFA. Finally, after FIFA had rejected an American application for membership at their 1912 congress, the rapidly growing AAFA members met on April 5, 1913 and formed the United States Football Association, which was accepted by FIFA. The AFA threw in its towel at this point, but the American Cup until 1929. One objective of this new association was to end the struggle between amateur and professional soccer organizations for hegemony, a struggle that would last well into the 1960's until the Association became more professionalized under the direction of Werner Fricker.