It’s a known fact among only select soccer circles, but Philadelphia has a rich – and deep – soccer history on the world stage. During the month that is the FIFA World Cup, philadelphiaunion.com in conjunction with Philly Soccer Page will highlight one player from either the Greater Philadelphia region or that has ties to the Union that has been a part of the world’s greatest sporting event.
This week we kicked off with a pair of local connections in Robert Millar, Bert Patenaude and Jimmy Gallagher that were instrumental in the United States' third place finish in the 1930 FIFA World Cup. We add one more to the mix, with the introduction of James Gentle.
James Gentle was valuable in more ways than one for the 1930 U.S. World Cup team.
Not only was he an effective striker, he was also the only player fluent in English and Spanish.
Gentle, who competed for the Philadelphia Cricket Club, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1926. During his time at Penn, Gentle played one game as an amateur with the Boston Wonder Workers of the American Soccer League.
According to archives on Penn’s Web site, Gentle went on to coach soccer at Haverford. He had active duty during World War II and at the end, Major Gentle served briefly as U.S. trade and industry officer for the American zone of Germany. He would continue in the Army reserves with the rank of Colonel until 1956, according to records on the Web site.
Gentle coached Haverford’s soccer team for six seasons before the war and compiled a 39-26-3 record and two Mid-American Conference titles.
In 1986, Gentle was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at email@example.com