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April 30, 1939 – Long before Cristiano Ronaldo, there was Billy Gonsalves

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Long before Cristiano Ronaldo, Adelino (Billy) Gonsalves was considered among the most proficient players of Madeira Island descent. Gonsalves, born in Portsmouth, R.I., in 1908, holds the record by winning eight U.S. Open Cup championships, six in succession (1930-35) with three clubs. Gonsalves won his first title with Fall River Marksmen at the age of 22 and his last with Brooklyn Hispano at 35 in 1944.

Gonsalves competed for teams in several cities, but he might not have had to leave St. Louis to play for Chicago-based Manhattan Beer. Gonsalves left Fall River after the demise of the ASL and the Marksmen, performing for St. Louis Central Breweries, Beltmar Drug and South Side Radio in the “Mound City” from 1933-38. The St. Louis Soccer League invited Chicago teams to participate in the league, and Gonsalves joined Manhattan Beer for the 1938 and ’39 seasons. Gonsalves teamed with Spain-born Fabri Salcedo to lead the attack for the Brewers, and they continued to combine with Brooklyn Hispano in the ‘40s.

April 30, 1939 – Chicago Manhattan Beer 0:1 St. Mary’s Celtic (Brooklyn)

Gonsalves scored Manhattan Beer’s only goal in the two-game series on a penalty kick. Duke Nanoski converted in the away leg and added two goals in St. Mary’s Celtic’s 4-1 win in the return leg at Starlight Park in the Bronx May 7, 1939. Rudolf Kuntner, a U.S. Men’s National Team member who became stage manager at the Metropolitan Opera, added a penalty kick goal in the second leg. According to a Dec. 19, 1971 New York Times review of Tristan und Isolde, Kuntner “… was responsible for the lighting effects. Bravo.” The Met used the stage lighting setup for productions in the ‘80s, also.


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