Written by Steve Holroyd "(firstname.lastname@example.org) , with supplemental materials by David Litterer
American sport was branching out in all directions by the mid-1960s: the success of the American Football League and baseball’s West Coast expansion had changed the thinking of businessmen with extra dollars looking for investment. By the end of the decade, all the established leagues would expand the number of their franchises, and two new leagues would challenge the established hierarchy in basketball and hockey. Also, this growth was encouraged by stadium owners with long-range debts to pay and who needed the new teams to rent their fields.
Meanwhile, word had spread across the Atlantic about the successes of the great soccer teams of Europe-Manchester United, Benfica, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Juventus, and others. Word had also spread that soccer was a cheap sport, both in equipment and in salaries. It was no secret that the top clubs in Europe regularly packed their stadiums. Reports also began to trickle in from England about that country’s excitement over the upcoming World Cup, and about the huge crowds that would attend.
It was in this atmosphere that Bill Cox, having witnessed the collapse of his Intenational Soccer League after five seasons, invited a number of prominent baseball and football club owners to a meeting in New York to discuss the idea of a nationwide professional soccer league and, on May 10, 1966, he and Robert Hermann of St. Louis held a press conference to unveil their plans for an 11-team league. Soon thereafter two other groups-one headed by Jack Kent Cooke and the other by Richard Millen-announced that they, too, could recognize a good investment when they saw one and were going ahead with their own leagues. Cooke's circuit was to be called the North American Soccer League, with franchises in Boston, New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver and Toronto. That spring, the USSFA-with its two person staff, only one of whom was full-time-were besieged with applications from the three competing groups. Somewhat dazed by the attention, the USSFA officials politely listened to the ambitious plans presented by people they had previously only read about. When all the talking was over, the USSFA offered a simple solution: all three groups should merge to form one league. Each of the delegations, in turn, informed the USSFA that a merger was simply out of the question.
This refusal to compromise left the USSFA in a difficult position, since FIFA-and especially its president, Sir Stanley Rous-was insisting that it get the three leagues together quickly. It was clear to both governing bodies that more than one league would likely kill whatever chance major-league professional soccer had in the United States. To further complicate matters, Cox’s group was claiming to have Sir Stanley’s support, while all three groups were allegedly putting the finishing touches on lucrative deals with television networks. The USSFA, faced with making the most momentous decision in its history, formed a committee to look into the sticky question of who to recognize. This committee was instructed to make its recommendation to the Association at its annual convention. A few weeks before the convention, however, Cox’s group announced that it had gone ahead and formed the North American Professional Soccer League (NAPSL). Obviously piqued at this attempted power play, USSFA President Frank Woods-a police sergeant from San Rafael, California-again stated that no organization could be formed without the sanction of the governing body.
While the wheels were in motion to decide among the three, NBC-TV threw a few coals on the fire by televising, on a slight tape delay from the London suburb of Wembley, the 1966 World Cup final. England defeated West Germany, in overtime, 4-2, behind Geoff Hurst’s hat trick in an emotional (if not classic) match. The entire tournament ended up drawing 1.5 paying spectators shelling out $7 million-and that on the limited British economy, before television revenues were figured. With dollar signs dancing in their heads, the magnates in the three leagues became even more obstinate in their refusal to compromise. Even the American media seemed to notice.
So did the USSFA. Suddenly hip to big business, it announced that, in return for its sanction (no small consideration, as it included the machinery to recruit players from other countries in the approved fashion), it wanted 4 percent of the gate receipts, 10 percent of any television money, and a $25,000 franchise fee from each club. Cox’s NAPSL and Millen’s National Soccer League (NSL) refused to pay these fees, finding the demands totally unreasonable in that the American Soccer League had been paying the princely sum of $25 a year for its professional status. Jack Kent Cooke’s North American Soccer League-which included the biggest ownership names and the most money-agreed, which was convenient as the USSFA’s committee was about to recommend that that group be sanctioned. As a result, on November 19, 1966 the USSFA stripped the ASL of its exclusive rights to professional soccer in the East and granted recognition to the Cooke group, which would soon be renamed the United Soccer Association (USA) to avoid confusion with Cox’s league. So in the dark was the American media about the game that Dick Walsh, the USA’s commissioner, felt compelled to open the press conference announcing his appointment with a prop, stating "this is a soccer ball".
The ASL should not have been surprised by its summarily getting shoved aside for the "big boys", as it was totally unprepared. In theory, the league had hoped that the new interests would go through the ASL; President Lamm even formed a committee to aid the organizers of the USA, saying "it is our sincere hope that [it] be a flourishing organization." By adopting such a naive stance, the ASL doomed itself to obscurity. Perhaps not surprisingly, Lamm left the ASL in 1968 to join the USSFA staff.
The USA originally announced that it would begin play in the spring of 1968, as it had hoped to build a proper soccer system, with reserve squads and the like as found in the rest of the world. However, the two groups left out in the cold by the USSFA’s decision were suddenly able to accomplish what they had previously insisted was impossible-they merged to form the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL), and announced that it was going ahead with its own plans despite being outside the USSFA’s and FIFA’s auspices. To prove this was no idle threat, the NPSL announced that it would be kicking off in the spring of 1967, only months away. Without USSFA sanction, the NPSL was branded an "outlaw" league, meaning that the players it recruited were subject to penalty from FIFA for having signed with the league. The NPSL was unmoved: after all, it had just outfoxed the USA and signed what it publicized as a 10-year, $14 million contract with CBS for a national TV Game of the Week. Actually, the contract paid only a pittance for the TV rights, and was renewable yearly at CBS’ option. But it did give the NPSL-and the whole soccer "experiment"-some credibility. Immediately the NPSL owners sets about renting the biggest and most expensive stadiums they could find. Coaches and players were signed blindly-some good, some embarrassing.
The USA believed that it could not construct its own teams from scratch in nine months, yet it did not want to let the NPSL have the public’s attention to itself in 1967. As a result, it decided to import foreign teams (a la the ISL) to represent its franchises, with its own teams being constructed for the following year. Twelve cities were organized for the beginning of June 1967. Meanwhile, the NPSL announced it would start two months earlier, with 10 clubs all pieceworked together in a few months by signing itinerant players from virtually every country around the globe. Desperately pursuing a market neither league could be sure existed, the opening season became a wild spending spree, with a few annual budgets approaching $1 million. When the dust settled, two leagues would be playing professional soccer in 1967, dividing a market that heretofore had showed only limited evidence of being able to support one. Alas, yet another American soccer precedent had been set: common sense would play a small role in the governing of the sport.
Throughout 1960s, the ASL was a league without any clear agenda. Teams went day-to-day, year-to-year. By this time, even the foreign tour program-which had continued despite ISL competition and was still the crown jewel of the league-was woefully mismanaged: in the next year, for example, the ASL lost $4,986.12 on its foreign tour, even though it paid over $34,000 in gate receipts to Chelsea of England and Dundee of Scotland.
While all the wheeling and dealing over the "major" pro leagues was going on, the ASL quietly played out its 1965-66 schedule, with Roma S.C. being crowned champion. Philadelphia Ukrainians won the National Open Challenge Cup for the fourth-and last-time; however, with the arrival of major league soccer, coupled with the fact that the major teams would eschew the Cup tournament, the National Open Challenge Cup would cease being the country’s professional showcase event. Roma’s Louis Pietrocola was the league’s Coach of the Year, while Walter Chyzowych of Newark Sitch earned MVP honors.
Chyzowych, for one, was not pleased with the ASL’s further decline into semi-professional status. "The ASL was supposed to be a professional league," said Chyzowych, one of the most talented goal scorers of the 1960s, "but I considered it amateur. It was a higher standard of play, sure. But nobody was making any money. It was a joke. There was no money to be had. I got three dollars for expenses [with Ukrainian Nationals] to practice and six dollars on [gamedays]....Every two or three years, players would leave because of management problems, coaching problems. You coached yourself, really. Somebody just made out the lineup. The weather was always a problem. Scheduling was never very stable. A lot of teams came in with a lot of enthusiasm and found that they couldn’t exist financially-Polish Falcons, Ludlow [Massachusetts], [New York] Brookhattan....". Sadly, Chyzowych’s last observation about enthusiasm not equaling planning would become yet another American soccer tradition.
One major event this year marked the beginning of the ASL's long decline into oblivion. At a special meeting of the USSFA in Chicago on November 19, 1966, the Association stripped the ASL of its exclusive rights to professional soccer in the eastern US, and granted rights to the new United Soccer Association (later to be part of the NASL). Although not fatal to the ASL, this ended their dreams of eventually growing into a full-fledged national professional league at the highest levels. From now on, it would play second fiddle to the NASL, and even though it eventually expanded to the midwest and later the west coast, the ASL would only provide a supporting role in the development of American pro soccer. Although some believe the ASL could have survived as a farm system for the NASL, that avenue was never pursued. More importantly, once this decision was made, some of the major supporters of the ASL pulled out, seeing the real opportunities across the river in the NASL.
Ukrainian Sitch and the Ukrainian Nationals rejoined the league, but Roma SC took the title, and Hartford FC won the playoff tournament. Boston Tigers, Olympia and Inter SC joined the league.
Final League Standings, 1965-66 Before the season, Boston, Olympia, and Inter SC (New York) were added. Ukrainian Sitch and Newark Portuguese returned. G W T L GF GA PTS Roma SC 17 15 1 1 62 19 31 Newak Ukrainian Sitch 15 13 0 2 47 13 26 Ukrainian Nationals 14 11 0 3 62 13 25 Inter SC (New York) 15 9 1 5 32 22 19 Hartford SC 16 8 3 5 42 36 19 Boston Tigers 15 7 3 5 19 17 17 Newark Portuguese 17 3 2 12 20 42 8 N.B. Hungarian Americans 17 2 2 13 25 53 6 Olympia 18 1 4 13 34 88 6 Newark Falcons 14 1 2 11 21 62 4 CHAMPION: Roma SC. Top Scorers: Walter Chyzowich, Newark Ukraininan Sitch 27 George Benitez, Ukrainian Nationals 21 Sal Scata, Hartford SC 20 Tony Verstraale, Roma SC 20 Most Valuable Player: Walter Czyzowych, Newark Ukrainian Sitch Coach of the Year: Louis Petrocola, Roma SC
A diminished roster of teams returned for the ECPSL's final season, with Toronto Italia-Falcons winning the regular season, and Toronto Inter-Roma taking the playoff tournament. Montreal Italica had withdrawn. Inter-Roma had been bought by a group headed by Elio Madonia, and spent $80,000 while losing $30,000. Hamilton lost $35,000 this season. Increasing financial losses caused the league to throw in the towel at the end of the season. Two teams continued afterwards, however. Italia-Falcons went on to play in the National Professional Soccer League as the Toronto Falcons, while the City franchise was represented by the Hibernians of Scotland as Toronto City in the United Soccer Association. The Falcons continued for 1968 in the new merged outfit, the North American Soccer League.
Final League Standings, 1966 Before the season, Montreal International was added. GP W T L GF GA PTS Toronto Italia-Falcons 24 21 2 1 57 16 44 Toronto Inter-Roma 24 11 4 9 35 38 26 Hamilton Primos 24 5 4 14 27 42 14 Montreal International 24 3 6 15 16 39 12 Semi-Finals: Roma defeated Primos 3-1 CHAMPIONSHIP: Roma defeated Italia 1-0, 2-0 Leading Scorer:
With the demise of the International Soccer League, the All-Stars had but a single game, defeating Hertha of berlin in the newly inaugurated Sports Festival. New York Ukrainian finished atop a close race for the league title, just beating Hots, which went on to win the tournament title.
Final GASL Major Division Standings: GP W D L GF GA Pts New York Ukrainian 17 9 6 2 24 9 24 New York Hota 18 9 5 4 23 26 18 Giuliana 18 7 5 6 19 24 19 New York Hungarian 18 6 6 6 26 29 16 Blue Star 17 5 7 5 17 30 31 Greek-Americans 16 8 0 8 26 24 16 Eintracht 18 7 2 9 23 24 16 Knitters 18 4 8 6 15 23 16 Minerva/Pfaelzer 18 5 5 8 20 35 15 BW Gottschee 18 5 2 11 22 23 12 League champion: New York Ukrainian Championship Tournament: New York Hota defeated SC Eintracht 2-1 (OT). 1st annual Sports Festival, Randalls Island: All-Stars defeated Hertha Zehlendorf (Berlin) 3-0.
Hansa clinched the Major Division title on the next to last weekend with a 2-1 win over Wings, but lost their final game to allow Olympic to come within 1 point. Among all the divisions 65 teams took part this season, along with 19 junior and 17 youth teams. Once again, the major attraction of the season was visits by touring teams (se ebelow for results). Lions had a great run through the indoor season to capture the championship.
NSL Final league Standings GP W T L Pt Hansa 14 10 1 3 21 Olympic 14 8 4 2 20 Kickers 14 7 3 4 17 Lions 14 6 3 5 15 Schwaben 14 5 4 5 14 Wings 14 4 4 6 12 Maroons 14 4 3 7 11 Youth 14 1 0 13 2 Indoor champion: Lions
California State Association Senior Challenge Cup: San Francisco Greek-Americans
Pacific Coast International Championship (Kennedy Cup): Vancouver Firefighters 1st, Los Angeles Select 2nd, San Francisco 3rd, Univ. San Salvador 4th.
Continental League: Orange County Soccer Club. New league started which attracted many of the region's top teams.
Greater Los Angeles League: Scandia
California League (LA): El Salto
Central California League (Stockton): Arroyos
Pacific League (LA): Coast Rangers:
Central Coast (Calif.) League: San Nicholas Soccer Club
San Diego League: Juventus Volliviano
San Joaquin Valley Leagu: Hurricanes. League began operations this year.
San Francisco Soccer Football League: San Francisco Scots
Hawaii Cup: Church College
Hawaii State Association League: Honolulu United SC
Mid-America Tournament: Schedule abandoned due to team withdrawals.
Inter-American Tournament (Miami): Argentina College All-Stars defeated Bogota, Mexico and Guayaquil (Ecuador)
Peel Challenge Cup (Illinois State): Hansa
Rowland State Open Championship (Maryland): (not available); Stewart Cup: Not available
Dr. Manning Memorial Trophy (New York State):Huntington
Knickerbocker Cup: Mineola
Association Cup: Brooklyn BB
Eastern District League (New York): Palermo & Dalmatinac (co-champions)
Italian-American League (New York): Mola won playoff with Fiorentine after season tie in standings.
Long Island League: Clean Cove
National Soccer League of New York: Brooklyn Celtic
Massachusetts State League: Sacred Heart of Waltham
Boston & District League: St. Anthony, Everett
New England Soccer League: Portuguese Sports of New Bedford
Interstate Soccer League (MA-RI): Fox Point Rangers of providence
North Shore League (Boston): Swampscott
Maryland State Amateur (Stewart) Cup: British Lions
Michigan State Championship: Serbian SC defeated Sport Club 2-1
Greater Detroit League: Warren S.C.
Pinkerton Cup (Buffalo & District League): Germania 1
Lake Erie League (Cleveland): Danube Swabian Soccer Club
Eastern Pennsylvania Cup: United German-Hungarian SC
Keystone League (Western Penn): Ambridge
The USA was on the sidelines this year as non-participants, as it watched a very successful 1966 World Cup held in the UK.
Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals, who had returned to the American Soccer League this season, took their fourth and final title, shutting out Orange County of Southern California over the two legs of the final. They opened with a 1-0 win in Los Angeles on May 22 and then scored a 3-0 victory on their home field in Philadelphia on June 5.
Ukrainian Nationals had reached the final by beating New York Ukrainian in the eastern semifinal, taking the second leg by 6-0 after dropping the first, 1-0. They had beaten yet another Ukrainian team, Newark Ukrainian Sitch, 6-0, in the quarterfinals. Orange County advanced with a 5-0 win over Chicago Kickers in the western semifinal after having beaten Seattle Hungarian, 1-1 and 2-1, in the quarterfinals. The other quarterfinals were New York Ukrainian 2, New York Greek-American 1, and Chicago Kickers 2, St. Louis White Star 1.
One of the most vibrant tournaments of the decade, the Cup of Champions brought three top world clubs to New York City, and offered the hometown fans a rare chance to witness the two top players in the world against each other, Pele of Santos, Brazil, and Eusebio of Benfica, Portugal. That match occurred in the opening game at Randalls Island, NY, before 25,670. This was a turbulent affair, with unruly fans throwing debris on the field before the first whistle, impatient with the game delay. Despite the fan problems, it was an excellent game, and Santos was in fine form, going to a 4-0 victory, with one goal from Pele. On August 24, Santos defeated A.E.K. Athens of greece 1-0, and on the 28th, Benfica fought A.E.K. Athens to a 2-2 draw. After the series, Santos played Inter-Milan on September 5, before 41,598 fans, only the fourth crowd of over 40,000 in US history. Pele scored one for Santos, and the Italian superstar Sandro Mazzola got one for Inter-Milan.
Bayern Munich, Germany: June 10, 1966 - June 30, 1966. Results: 3 wins, 5 draws, 1 loss.
6/10/66 Bayern Munich 2, Glasgow Celtic 2 (at San Francisco; att: 12,000) 6/12/66 Bayern Munich 3, Orange County 3 (at Los Angeles) 6/15/66 Bayern Munich 3, Atlas (Mexico) 0 (at los Angeles) 6/17/66 Bayern Munich 0, Tottenham Hotspurs 3 (at Detroit) 6/19/66 Bayern Munich 1, Tottenham Hotspurs 1 (at Chicago) 6/22/66 Bayern Munich 9, Pabst Blue Ribbon (at Milwaukee) 6/24/66 Bayern Munich 11, White Star 2 (at St. Louis) 6/29/66 Bayern Munich 2, Torine (Italy) 2 (at Toronto) 6/30/66 Bayern Munich 3, Torine (Italy) 3 (at Jersey City, NJ)
Glasgow Celtic, Scotland: May 12, 1966 - June 12, 1966. Results: 8 wins, 0 draws, 3 losses.
5/12/66 Glasgow Celtic 11, Bermuda Stars 0 (at Bermoda) 5/15/66 Glasgow Celtic 7, Bermuda Stars 0 (at Bermuda) 5/18/66 Glasgow Celtic 6, Kearny All-Stars 0 (at Kearny, NJ) 5/21/66 Glasgow Celtic 1, Tottenham Hotspurs 0 (at Toronto) 5/25/66 Glasgow Celtic 11, Hamilton All-Stars 0 (at Hamilton, ON) 5/27/66 Glasgow Celtic 0, Torine (Italy) 0 (at Jersey City, NJ) 5/29/66 Glasgow Celtic 6, CYC Stars (at St. Louis) 6/1/66 Glasgow Celtic 2, Tottenham Hotspurs 1 (at San Francisco; att: 11,000) 6/4/66 Glasgow Celtic 1, Tottenham Hotspurs 1 (at Vancouver) 6/10/66 Glasgow Celtic 2, Bayern Munich 2 (at San Francisco) 6/12/66 Glasgow Celtic 1, Atlas (Mexico) 0 (at Los Angeles)
Tottenham Hotspurs, England: May 19, 1966 - June 19, 1966. Results: 6 wins, 2 draws, 3 losses.
5/19/66 Tottenham Hotspurs 3, Bermuda All-Stars 2 (at Bermuda) 5/11/66 Tottenham Hotspurs 0, Glasgow Celtic 1 (at Toronto) 5/25/66 Tottenham Hotspurs 3, Hartford Stars 0 (at Hartford) 5/29/66 Tottenham Hotspurs 0, Bologna (Italy) 1 (at Jersey City, NJ) 6/1/66 Tottenham Hotspurs 1, Glasgow Celtic 2 (at San Francisco) 6/4/66 Tottenham Hotspurs 1, Glasgow Celtic 1 (at Vancouver) 6/8/66 Tottenham Hotspurs 3, Vancouver Stars 0 (at Vancouver) 6/12/66 Tottenham Hotspurs 1, Mexico W.C. Team 0 (at Mexico City) 6/15/66 Tottenham Hotspurs 1, America 0 (at Mexico City) 6/17/66 Tottenham Hotspurs 3, Bayern Munich 0 (at Detroit) 6/19/66 Tottenham Hotspurs 1, Bayern Munich 1 (at Chicago)
Zojordina, Yugoslavia: Results: 7 wins, 1 draw, 4 losses.
Zojrodina 4, Blue Arrow 0 (at Chicago) Zojrodina 0, Vera Kous 2 (at mexico) Zojrodina 0, Guadalajara 2 (at Guadalajara) Zojrodina 1, America 1 (at mexico City) Zojrodina 0, Monterey 2 (at Monterey) Zojrodina 3, America 0 (at Los Angeles) Zojrodina 3, Tiania 2 (at Mexico) Zojrodina 5, Jadran 4 (at Los Angeles) Zojrodina 3, America 0 (at Los Angeles) Zojrodina 3, America 1 (at Los Angeles) Zojrodina 6, New York Jadran 4 (at New York)Santos, Brazil: No details available.
German-Hungarians of Brooklyn to Germany: July 24, 1966 - August 17, 1966. Results: 4 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses.
7/24/66 German-Hungarians 1, SV Friederichslofen 2 7/27/66 German-Gungarians 3, TSV Ottobeuren 1 7/28/66 German-Hungarians 6, SV Buchen 1 7/31/66 German-Hungarians 2, SV Kaufbeuren 5 8/2/66 German-Hungarians 3, VfL Bad Oldesloe 3 8/4/66 German-Hungarians 4, TSV Malente 1 8/7/66 German-Hungarians 0, VfB Oldenburg 11 8/17/66 German-Hungarians 5, Dormerscheim 4
In the NCAA Tournament second round, LIU-Brooklyn defeated Bridgeport 1-0, Michigan State defeated temple 3-1, Army defeated Navy 3-1, San Francisco defeated St. Louis 2-1 in quadruple (!) overtime. In the semifinals, LIU/Brooklyn defeated Michigan State in an exhausting 2-2 tie which went into FOUR overtimes and finally was settled by 6-5 corner kicks. The other game was a relatively uneventful 2-0 victory by San Francisco over Army. The championship was held in Berkeley, CA on December 3, with San Francisco defeating LIU/Brooklyn 5-2.
Conference Champions: West Coast Intercollegiate Soccer Conference: San Francisco New England Intercollegiate Soccer League: Brown Ivy League: Brown Metropolitan Intercollegiate Soccer Conference: Long Island University Atlantic Coast Conference: Maryland New York State Athletic Conference: Oswego Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate League: Colorado College Ohio Collegiate Soccer Association: Akron Mason-Dixon Conference: Towson State Yankee Conference: Vermont Southern California Soccer Association: Southern California Middle Atlantic States Athletic Conference: Elizabethtown College All-Americans: G - John Garrison, Middlebury RF - Reinhold Jabusch, Long Island LF - Ulick Bourke, Catholic U. RH - Myron Bakun, Newark CH - John Boles, Temple LH - Peter Hens, Michigan State OR - Jack Kinealy, St. Louis IR - Donald Prozik, Brockport State CF - Jaffer Kassamali, Amherst IL - Umit Kesim, Indiana OL - Victor DeJong, Brown NAIA Championship: Quincy 6, Trenton State 1 NJCAA Championship: Nassau Community College 1, Florissant Valley C. C. 0
Kennedy Cup: Held in San Francisco. Winner: Vancouver Firefighters
May 7, 1966 - Vancouver Firefighters 3: San Francisco 0 May 7, 1966 - Los Angeles Selects 2: El Salvador 0 May 8, 1966 - San Francisco 2: El Salvador 1 (3rd Place) May 8, 1966 - Vancouver Firefighters 6: Los Angeles Selects 0 (Final)
1966 National Amateur Cup Final: Chicago Kickers defeated Rochester Italian American 5-2.
National Junior Cup: St. William, St. Louis defeated New York Knitters 1-0.
National Soccer Hall of Fame: In 1966, Maurice Hudson was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
Last update: February 17, 2008
Back to American Soccer History Archives main page