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June 5, 1924 – Chinese students’ soccer team of Greater Boston captain Arthur Sun elected MIT captain

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Xi Jinping and the China Super League have revived soccer in the country, but there were apparently some talented Chinese players competing in the Boston area 100 years ago.

Some of the earliest mentions of Chinese soccer in New England date to 1918, the name of the team(s) varying. Chinese players made a strong impact with Northeastern University’s team. References to Chinese soccer in Boston appear to fade after the mid-1920s, though, a time of great political unrest in China.

Nov. 9, 1918 – MIT Chinese soccer 4:1 Harvard S.A.T.C.

This was the Chinese team’s fourth successive win, according to The Boston Globe. “The winning team displayed in (sic) intimate knowledge of the game put on many trick plays.”

The Chinese team became an attraction at the Sullivan Square Grounds in Charlestown, one of the top “sandlot” fields in the area.

Oct. 13, 1919 – Boston Rovers 3:2 All-Chinese at Sullivan sq

“A large crowd rooted for the Chinese boys, who scored in the first half through the brilliant play of Lin and Kwong.”

April 28, 1923 — Charlestown 4:2 All-Chinese Students at Sullivan Sq. (Att.: 2,000)

Cowan scored three goals and Yeuell one for Charlestown. C.H. Shih scored both China goal. A. Sun is listed at left half in the starting lineup.

“All-Chinese Students’ soccer team did not win its game with the Charlestown team of the Boston and District League at the Sullivan-sq Ground yesterday, being beaten, 4 to 2, yet demonstrating to the 2000 fans present that its players know the game of soccer. Lin, Shih and Yung are especially clever players.”

Other games included a 1-0 win (Chang goal) over Harvard in an “informal” game May 9, 1923; and a 3-3 draw with the Bunker Hill Celtics at Sullivan Square May 12, 1923.

According to the MIT soccer guide, from 1919-1923, MIT compiled a 3-0-0 record against the “Chinese All-Stars.” I found a Boston Globe reference to a 0-0 draw between MIT and “Chinese.”

Nov. 15, 1919 – MIT 0:0 Chinese at Tech Field

“Although they were greatly outplayed, the Tech team managed to hold the Chinese in soccer to a tie score.

Nov. 15, 1925 – MIT 4:0 Northeastern at Tech Field

“Tech had a strong dribbling attack that swept the Northeastern engineers off their feet.”

According to the Globe, the 1925 NU team lost “three outstanding players … in K. Fong, R. Chen and K.C. Young. Chen and Fong were veteran members of the Chinese Soccer Association before coming to this country and both have returned to China. Young is lost by graduation.”

MIT’s most accomplished coach was probably Malcolm Goldie (1931-40), a former American Soccer League player. Walter Alessi (1975-2006) had the longest tenure in MIT soccer history. Current coach Kenny Bovell guided the Engineers to the NCAA Division 3 third round in 2015.


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