Wortmann played forward for Hakoah-Vienna in the 1920s and was one of the team's best scorers. After helping the club win the Austrian League title in 1925, he toured the United States with Hakoah in 1926. During the tour, they played ten games in front of a total of 200,000 people, including a single-game record crowd of 46,000 at the Polo Grounds in New York City (the attendance record stood until 1977). Wortmann remained in the U.S. after the tour and became one of the top scorers in the American Soccer League. The Hakoah-Vienna soccer team has been inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. 1908 - d. unknown
An Austrian Jew, Wortmann played one game for the Austrian National team in 1926 against Czechoslovakia. That same year, he toured the U.S. with Hakoah-Vienna. Known for his vigor, endurance, and excellent shooting ability, Wortmann played left wing for Hakoah during the tour and then center-forward during a 1927 U.S. tour. Following the second tour, Wortmann remained in the U.S. and signed to play in the American Soccer League with the New York Nationals.
Wortmann played two seasons with the Nationals, scoring five goals in 16 games in 1927-28 and seven goals in only 10 games during the 1928-29 season. In the middle of the 1928-29 season, Wortmann left the Nationals and joined the New York Hakoah, a new club made up of former Hakoah-Vienna players. The Hakoah played in the upstart Eastern Soccer League, which formed when three ASL teams were banned from competition in that league for participating in the U.S. Open Cup. In response, the teams organized the ESL and asked the Hakoah players to form a team.
During the "soccer war" between the ESL and ASL, injunctions and other legal proceedings went back and forth as the leagues battled over top players, such as Wortmann. Nevertheless, he played for Hakoah during the remainder of the 1928-29 season and helped his team capture the 1929 U.S. Open Cup Championship, which was considered the national championship. In October 1929, the two rival leagues finally put aside their differences and merged back into one league (called the ASL). The New York Hakoah and the Brooklyn Hakoah teams then merged to become the Hakoah All-Stars.
Following the merger, the ASL split its season into two distinct halves, the spring and the fall. From November 1929-April 1930 (considered the 1930 Spring season), Wortmann played in a team-high 33 games for Hakoah during the season and scored 14 goals (second on the team and 11th in the league) as they finished in third place. In the Fall 1930 season, they again finished in third place and Wortmann scored six goals in 27 games.
His final season with Hakoah was in 1931 when he played in both halves of the season and scored a total of eight goals in 36 combined games. Hakoah finished in sixth place in the spring and fourth place in the fall. The ASL soon folded due to economic hardships brought on by the Depression. Wortmann played in 122 games and scored 40 goals in his ASL career.
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The American Soccer League, 1921-1931: The Golden Years of American Soccer, by Colin Jose (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1998)