Written by David Litterer firstname.lastname@example.org, and Steve Holroyd email@example.com
The Cosmos' success led to an unprecedented spending spree in 1978 by other NASL teams to acquire international players. This marked a major shift in developmental strategy, borrowing from the philosophy of the NFL's George Allen, "The future is now". Teams mortgaged their future to buy the best talent they could afford. The Cosmos, led by the deep pockets of Warner Brothers started the trend, and other teams were forced to follow suit or fall by the wayside. Some criticized this move as shortsighted, saying that it was more important to develop American talent. But during these heady times, those voices were lonely cries in the wilderness. Teams such as the St. Louis Stars, who advocated this philosophy struggled against the obviously superior foreign talent. The NASL continued its extensive package of exhibitions against international clubs, with over two dozen games this season.
The NASL followed its success by undergoing a major expansion, adding six teams, and dividing into a NFL-style divisional lineup, with American and National conferences of three divisions each, and expanding the season to 30 games. The old Boston and Philadelphia franchises were revived under new ownership, with Lipton Tea Company operating the New England tea Men, and an ownership group headed by a dazzling array of current rock musicians owning the new Philadelphia Fury. New England landed Costa Rican star Ringo Cantillo from the ASL. The Tea Men also signed Irish forward Mike Flanagan who went on to lead the league in scoring. Unfortunately, a contract dispute led him to return to England where he was never able to repeat his performance with the Tea Men. The Fury introduced the NASL to designer uniforms, and a team logo which still holds up well to this day. They signed Alan Ball, who had played on England's 1966 World Cup champion team.
The other new teams were the Memphis Rogues, The Caribous of Colorado, Houston Hurricane, and Detroit Express. The Express immediately hired English coach Keith Furphy, who scored a major coup by signing English national star Trevor Francis to lead a primarily British lineup. Francis, who was the first million pound transfer when he went to Nottingham Forest, scored 54 points that year despite arriving in early May. The team led the American Conference in both offensive and defensive categories and was the first team to make the playoffs. Houston was the last franchise awarded, and had less than three months to field a team for the opening game. The Hurricane struggled after a successful start, hobbled by injuries and finished at 10-20, out of the playoffs.
In addition to the new teams, there were four franchise moves: The St. Louis stars, one of two remaining original franchises, moved to Anaheim to become the California Surf. Their major signing this year was George Graham, future manager of Arsenal. Their "go American" plan abandoned, they adopted a largely British lineup under English coach John Sewell. However, they kept the core of the American players from St. Louis, including leading scorer Al Trost, along with Dan Counce, and Steve Moyers. Although their play improved slightly, they still finished below .500 and suffered an early exit from the playoffs. Team Hawaii gave up on their Pacific experiment, moving to Oklahoma as the Tulsa Roughnecks. The Connecticut Bicentennials moved to the Bay Area as the Oakland Stompers, featuring a ticket plan with a different "vintage" assigned to each tier of the stadium. The novelty didn't catch on, and their stay in Oakland was but a single season. Finally, the Las Vegas Quicksilvers moved to San Diego, where as the Sockers, they would play another 19 seasons, in three different leagues. They also acquired Julie Veee from the Earthquakes.
These new and relocated teams were not the only ones acquiring players. The Cosmos signed Vladislav Bogicevic from Yugoslavia and English forward Dennis Tueart, while acquiring Goalkeeper Jack Brand from Rochester. With Dave Brcic as backup, the Cosmos didn't need Shep Messing anymore and he was off to Oakland. Ricky Davis made his debut as one of the promising young American Stars, the leader of a very small contingent to be sure. Toronto signed Manual Velazquez, captain of Real Madrid. Clive Charles, future US Olympic team coach, returned to the league to defend for the Portland Timbers, who also signed Irish national Jimmy Conway from Stoke City. The Chicago Sting signed Danish international Jorgen Christansen, who had played for the league a decade earlier. In addition to the well known stars, many journeyman players were acquired from all over the world, making the league sort of a mini-united nations.
The controversy grew hotter as people argued about the best strategy for developing the league and selling the game in the US. To build the teams with the best world players money could buy or develop the American talent. The exposure that had come with the signing of Pele, Rodney Marsh, Eusebio, and others created unprecedented interest in the league, and helped to spur the already substantial growth in youth soccer. But there was a major risk. There was much more money going out than coming in. Despite the attention and large crowds, the NASL had to settle for a 9-game package with TVS Sports, a small syndication company; many games showed up on Mondays at 11:30 PM, after a 31 hour delay. Ratings were low to medium, but many markets did not carry the package. Others pointed to the long-term goals: In most countries, the national team was the raison'd'etre of the entire soccer program. Nothing brought attention like the world cup. The US needed a strong national team, and a strong pool of American talent. Ultimately, a "united nations" league would have difficulty in getting fans to identify with its players. Americans found the NASL an obstacle, as they were often relegated to the bench, except for a small contingent of success stories.
The NASL retained its controversial rule changes, including the shootout to break ties, the 35 yard offside line and bonus points for goals scored. These changes would eventually lead to a showdown with FIFA, who was already getting in the USSF's case for their inability to force the NASL to toe the line. The NASL, seeing its success often went its own way, not honoring the transfer system, avoiding international cup competitions and the US Open Cup, and often ignoring FIFA and the USSF altogether. Being flush with success, they did not see the need for cooperation. The league also ignored other early warning signs. Although the Cosmos surged in attendance in its post-Pele glow, to over 48,000 per game, the other major teams were flat or even declined slightly. For the most part, the new teams were in the lower echelon of attendance race, although the relocated teams generally improved. But overall, attendance actually declined if the Cosmos and Whitecaps success stories were not included. This was worrisome, given the attention coming from the Pele phenomenon.
Purists also decried the appalling field conditions in many of the cities. In their rush to the big time, the NASL moved into large stadiums, many of them dual purpose, over 2/3 of them with artificial turf. Fans had to put up with poorly disguised baseball layouts and gridiron lines obscuring the pitch on the artificial turf. The "pinball" action on the plastic, along with the 35 yard offside rule, greatly altered the game, sometimes making it resemble only slightly the game played in the rest of the world.
Not surprisingly, the Cosmos tied for the league's best record this year, with 24 wins and 6 losses. They also broke league records for games won, points (212), goals (88), average home attendance (47,856), winning percentage (.800), and home victories (14, plus a two-year winning streak of 23 consecutive home wins). With all the expensive talent they had acquired, anything less than this would have been disastrous. Their talent showed beyond the won-loss record: The team scored an amazing 88 goals for the season, substantially ahead of the rest of the league, even though Vancouver and Detroit landed 68 goals in this offensive-minded season. Ironically, the Cosmos' record was matched by the rejuvenated Vancouver Whitecaps, who finished in the National West. The Whitecaps managed this with a largely unknown lineup, featuring future Canadian hall of famer Bob Lenarduzzi, as well as Englishmen Kevin Hector and Alan Hinton leading the primarily English lineup.
The Los Angeles Aztecs fell apart this year. After losing their first seven home games, they fired coach Terry Fisher and sold their five best players, including 1977 scoring champ Steve David, and George Best. This with the loss of the scoring power of George Best, wiped out their offense. The Dallas Tornado also fell substantially, despite keeping most of their lineup; after playing .500 ball, a six game losing streak in August sealed their fate. Minnesota Kicks retained their divisional title in the National central. One major feature this season was a high turnover of coaches: seven in all, including Memphis's Malcolm Allison, fired during preseason, and Rochester's Dragan Popovic, fired for abusing officials. The league also saw its first forfeit, as Tulsa was ruled to have used an ineligible player, Peter Nikezic, and its 3-2 win over Rochester was reversed.
The American Conference had the preponderance of expansion clubs, and two of them were division champs: the impressive Detroit Express, and the surprising New England Tea Men, led by Mike Flanagan who won the league scoring title. one of the most surprising turnarounds was achieved by the Chicago Sting, who started the season with a ten game losing streak. Realizing they completely lacked an offense, having scored a mere six goals, they made some important player deals, acquiring West German striker Karl Heinz Granitza, Danish Jorgen Kristensen and Arno Steffenhagen. The Sting rebounded to finish a mediocre 12-18, and their attendance remained miserable, but the team would improve to become one of the more successful franchises in the NASL's final years. Granitza was an interesting story: Not well known in the Bundesliga, he would go on to become the third highest scorer in NASL History, and eventually a successful career in the major indoor Soccer League. He accomplished much more in the NASL than many bigger stars who were brought over for short stays.
With the expansion of the league came an expansion of the playoffs. Sixteen of the 24 teams made the playoffs, and the first round was a single elimination knockout, with no byes. As more than one pundit grumbled, this was truly a new season. This surprising format promised major upsets, but the only one in 1978 was New England's home loss to the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers. The Conference semifinals were two-game series leading to mini-game and shootout. This phase of the playoffs saw the next major surprise: the Vancouver Whitecaps elimination at the hands of Portland. Tampa Bay just made it past Ft. Lauderdale in the shootout by one shot, neatly scored by Rodney Marsh. Clyde Best scored two of Portland's three goals in this two-leg series (1-0, 2-1). Ft. Lauderdale continued their Cinderella run by narrowly edging Central Division champ Detroit by topping them 4-3 in a shootout, then losing 0-1 and winning the mini-game by an identical score. The division champs continued to fall as San Diego fell to Tampa Bay in a close series. Meanwhile, the New York Cosmos had a scare as they were trounced 9-2 in their opening game with Minnesota. Alan Willey scored an unprecedented five goals for the Kicks. The Cosmos returned the favor in the second game, winning 4-0, and then taking the mini-game which went to the shootout after a scoreless tie. In the Conference Championships, Ft. Lauderdale's run finally ended as they fell in a close series with the Rowdies, which also went to a mini-game shootout. New York disposed of Portland more easily, 1-0 and 5-0. the Soccer Bowl was held in Giants stadium, New York, where the all-time attendance record had been held a year earlier. They didn't match the record this time, but the crowd of 74,901 that packed the stadium was enthusiastic, and the game was tough, exciting and closer than it looked. Dennis Tueart scored twice and Giorgio Chinaglia once in New York's 3-1 victory over Tampa Bay. The Brazilian Mirandinha scored the lone goal for the Rowdies.The NASL had its largest series if friendlies and tours yet. The Ft. lauderdale Strikers made a tour of England in February, earning draws against Portsmouth and Workington, beating Stockport County and losing to Blackpool and Port Vale. The highlight was a two city stop by Manchester United, who beat Tampa Bay and Tulsa by identical 2-1 scores. After the season, Tulsa toured Ireland and Northern Ireland, with highlights including a 1-1 draw at Galway and win over Siago. The cosmos did two extensive tours extending from early September to late November. The first tour started in West germany, and extended through give more countries. Highlights included resounding defeats at the hands of VFB Stuttgart and Bayern Munich, a draw at Chelsea, wins over Atletico Madris and Chelsea FC, and a close loss at Red Star of Yugoslavia. The second tour took them to South America, where they drew with Cordoba Belgrano, beat Independiente Rivadavia, and suffered close losses to Boca Juniors (2-4), and CAR (Bolivia) before beating Villa Nova of Brazil. (see full results below)
This season marked the beginning of the true "golden era" for the NASL, three seasons in which the league saw no limits. The press attention in the US was impressive, many teams drew large crowds, the like of which never had been seen in the country. The view from overseas was mostly skeptical, but in a few cases, particularly with the Cosmos, there was occasionally grudging respect. However, the foreigners rightly pointed to he largely artificial nature of the NASL's success, built as it was on a largely imported talent base at a high price. The jury was still out on whether this system was financially viable. But for now, the fans simply enjoyed the spectacle, and underneath the headlines, a whole new generation of soccer players and spectators was being inspired, and this marked the laying of some of the groundwork for the future of soccer in the USA.
Final NASL League Standings, 1978 Before the season, New England, Philadelphia, Detroit, Memphis, Houston, and Colorado were added. Las Vegas moved to San Diego, Hawaii moved to Tulsa, Connecticut moved to Oakland, and St. Louis moved to California. G W L GF GA PTS % Att. NATIONAL CONFERENCE Eastern Division New York Cosmos 30 24 6 88 39 212 .800 47,856 Washington Diplomats 30 16 14 55 47 145 .533 10,873 Toronto Metros-Croatia 30 16 14 58 47 144 .533 6,257 Rochester Lancers 30 14 16 47 52 131 .466 6,758 Central Division Minnesota Kicks 30 17 13 58 43 156 .566 30,928 Tulsa Roughnecks 30 15 15 49 46 132 .500 11,207 Dallas Tornado 30 14 16 51 53 131 .466 8,981 Colorado Caribous 30 8 22 34 66 81 .266 7,418 Western Division Vancouver Whitecaps 30 24 6 68 29 199 .800 15,736 Portland Timbers 30 20 10 50 36 167 .666 11,803 Seattle Sounders 30 15 15 50 45 138 .500 22,578 Los Angeles Aztecs 30 9 21 36 69 88 .300 9,235 AMERICAN CONFERENCE Eastern Division Tampa Bay Rowdies 30 18 12 63 48 165 .600 18,123 New England Tea Men 30 19 11 62 39 165 .633 11,859 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 30 16 14 50 59 143 .533 10,479 Philadelphia Fury 30 12 18 40 58 111 .400 8,280 Central Division Detroit Express 30 20 10 68 36 176 .666 12,194 Chicago Sting 30 12 18 57 64 123 .400 4,188 Memphis Rogues 30 10 20 43 58 101 .333 8,708 Houston Hurricane 30 10 20 37 61 96 .333 5,806 Western Division San Diego Sockers 30 18 12 63 56 164 .600 5,591 California Surf 30 13 17 43 49 115 .433 11,171 Oakland Stompers 30 12 18 34 59 103 .400 11,929 San Jose Earthquakes 30 8 22 36 81 83 .266 14,281 1st Round: Detroit defeated Philadelphia 1-0 Tampa Bay defeated Chicago 3-1 San Diego defeated California 2-1 Ft. Lauderdale defeated New England 3-1 Cosmos defeated Seattle 5-2 Portland defeated Washington 2-1 (OT) Vancouver defeated Toronto 4-0 Minnesota defeated Tulsa 3-1 Conf. Semi-finals: Ft. Lauderdale defeated Detroit 4-3 (SO), 0-1 Cosmos defeated Minnesota 2-9, 4-0 (1-0 MG) Portland defeated Vancouver 1-0, 2-1 Tampa Bay defeated San Diego 1-0, 1-2(1-0 MG) Conf. Championships: Tampa Bay defeated Ft. Lauderdale 2-3, 3-1, 1-0(MG) Cosmos defeated Portland 1-0, 5-0 SOCCER BOWL-78: New York defeated Tampa Bay 3-1 Leading Scorers GP G A TP Giorgio Chinaglia, New York 30 34 11 79 Mike Flanagan, New England 28 30 6 66 Trevor Francis, Detroit 20 22 10 54 Kevin Hector, Vancouver 28 21 10 52 Rodney Marsh, Tampa Bay 26 18 16 52 Jeff Bourne, Dallas 30 21 8 50 Karl-Heinz Granitza, Chicago 22 19 9 47 Alan Willey, Minnesota 30 21 3 45 Ivan Lukacevic, Toronto 17 16 5 37 David Irving, Ft. Lauderdale 28 16 5 37 Bob Lenarduzzi, Vancouver 29 10 17 37 Vladislav Bogicevic, New York 30 10 17 37 Paul Cannell, Washington 24 14 7 35 Steve Hunt, New York 25 12 11 35 Keith Furphy, Detroit 30 11 12 34 Clyde Best, Portland 30 12 9 33 David Robb, Tampa Bay 27 16 7 32 Alan Hinton, Vancouver 29 1 30 32 Dennis Tueart, New York 20 10 12 32 Franz Beckenbauer, New York 27 8 16 32 Micky Cave, Seattle 30 13 6 32 Jean Willrich, San Diego 30 9 13 31 Bill Caskey, Tulsa 27 11 8 30 A-Assists Leading Goalkeepers (1350 mins. needed to qualify) GP Min SV GA SH GAA Phil Parkes, Vancouver 29 2650 133 28 10 0.95 Erol Yasin, New York 22 1916 129 24 6 1.13 Mick Poole, Portland 30 2783 173 36 9 1.16 Steve Hardwick, Detroit 30 2734 179 36 9 1.19 Kevin Keelan, New England 29 2609 158 36 7 1.24 Winston Dubose, Tampa Bay 15 1352 68 19 4 1.26 Zeljko Bilecki, Toronto 17 1550 122 23 6 1.34 Dave Jokerst, California 17 1574 79 24 6 1.37 Colin Boulton, Tulsa 29 2531 160 39 10 1.39 Tony Chursky, Seattle 28 2617 175 41 9 1.41 Bill Irwin, Washington 27 2362 178 39 5 1.49 Keith Van Eron, Houston 19 1737 114 31 6 1.60 Most Valuable Player: Mike Flanagan, New England Tea Men Coach of the Year: Tony Waiters, Vancouver Whitecaps Rookie of the Year: Gary Etherington, New York Cosmos North American Player of the Year: Bobby Lenarduzzi, Vancouver NASL All-Star Team - 1st Team G Kevin Keelan, New England Tea Men D Carlos Alberto, New York Cosmos D Mike England, Seattle Sounders D Ray Evans, California Surf D Chris Turner, New England Tea Men M Franz Beckenbauer, New York Cosmos M Gerry Daly, New England Tea Men M Rodney Marsh, Tampa Bay Rowdies F Mike Flanagan, New England Tea Men F Trevor Francis, Detroit Express F Giorgio Chinaglia, New York Cosmos
The ASL continued its bicoastal arrangement this year, with four teams continuing along the west coast. Perhaps eyeing the success of the Cosmos in the Big Apple, the league added an expansion team, the New York Eagles, and a second team in Los Angeles, the Southern California Lazers. Meanwhile, the New England Oceaneers moved to Indianapolis, to try out a city that was new to pro soccer. The Apollo, following in the Cosmos footsteps, stocked up on talent, and ran away with the league title, and boasted several of the top scorers as well. The Eagles signed former Pele teammate Ramon Mifflin and Rildo, another teammate signed with the Lazers. Meanwhile, World Cup veterans Eusebio and Antonio Simoes of Portugal signed with the New Jersey Americans. Overall however, foreign signings were few, and even some of these stars were clearly past their prime. The main challenge facing the ASL was losing promising stars to the NASL: Ringo Cantillo jumped to the NASL, along with all-star goalkeeper Keith van Eron who jumped to the expansion Houston Hurricane.
The ASL continued to implement Gene Chyzowuch's call to de-emphasize foreign talen in favor of developing American players. Although there was no roster limit, the league limited teams to importing no more than six players per year. The league continued to hold international tours, a tradition going back to the 1920's, but on a very limited scale, due primarily to increasing costs. By 1978, a top team would require at least a $10,000 appearance fee, which was not feasible for a league of the ASL's modest means. All ten teams lost moey this season, the Apolloo having lost several hundred thousand dollars. To reduce the burden, the teams shared travel costs equally. Average team budgets ranged fro $300,000 to $350,000, a fraction of a typical NASL budget. The Indianaplis Daredevils led the league with 46,512 home attendance, and the Apollo drew 38,032.
The real core of the league moved to California, as three teams fought for the top spot in the West, with the Skyhawks repeating as divisional champs, on the strength of MVP/leading scorer Jim Rolland, Mal Roche and goalkeeper Brian Parkinson. The three way race was reminiscent of the urban rivalries in England, with the teams all within easy commuting distance. In the East, however, the Apollo, whose stadium at Hofstra ripped up its awful polyturf for the new Superturf field, simply squashed all competition. Their scoring tandem of Mike Mancini, Charlie McCarthy, Edner Breton and Kevin Mahon were simply unstoppable, as they combined for 51 of the Apollo's 65 goals, more than twice the total output for some other teams. Meanwhile, the cross-town Eagles were also rans.
The playoffs held few surprises; New Jersey and California prevailed in the 1st round, and the division champs disposed of them easily, leading to a championship match between the New York Apollo and Los Angeles Skyhawks. This was a close game, finally won by the Apollo 1-0.
The league was approaching a crossroads at this point. Although their westward expansion helped them achieve the dream of being a truly national league, and attendance was rising, the travel costs were crippling, and a number of teams suffered financially. Southern California folded despite their excellent performance during the season, as did the long suffering Connecticut Yankees. Bob Cousy stepped down as commissioner of the league, discouraged by the continuing challenges which despite the league's growth, still defied solution. At this point, the market really didn't exist for a 2nd division minor league, and the future success of the league, even after 45 years, was still uncertain.
Final ASL League Standings, 1978 Before the season, New England moved to Indianapolis, and the New York Eagles and Southern California were added. Sacramento changed its nickname to Gold. G W T L GF GA PTS Eastern Division New York Apollo 24 18 1 5 65 37 143 New Jersey Americans 24 10 1 13 49 45 94 Indianapolis Daredevils 24 8 3 13 33 41 78 New York Eagles 24 6 5 13 33 55 73 Cleveland Cobras 24 7 4 13 27 55 68 Connecticut Yankees 24 6 2 16 24 53 58 Western Division Los Angeles Skyhawks 24 17 1 6 55 28 130 California Sunshine 24 15 2 7 55 27 124 Southern California Lazers 24 15 1 8 44 29 117 Sacramento Gold 24 7 2 15 27 42 64 1st Round: New Jersey defeated Indianapolis 4-2. California defeated Southern California 2-1. Semi-Finals: New York Apollo defeated New Jersey 0-2,5-2 Los Angeles defeated California 1-0,4-1. CHAMPIONSHIP: New York Apollo defeated Los Angeles 1-0. After the season, Connecticut and Southern California folded. Leading Scorers GP G A TP Jim Rolland, Los Angeles 24 17 10 44 Jose Neto, New Jersey 23 17 9 43 Mike Mancini, New York Apollo 23 17 6 40 Sid Wallace, So. California 24 14 7 35 Charlie McCarthy, N.Y. Apollo 23 13 8 34 Steve Newman, Indianapolis 19 14 2 30 Edner Breton, New York Apollo 21 11 8 30 Kevin Mahon, New York Apollo 22 11 8 30 Andy Chapman, California 23 12 5 29 John Lowey, California 21 10 6 26 Billy McNichol, Los Angeles 21 11 3 25 Tony Douglas, California 23 9 7 25 Mal Roche, Los Angeles 18 10 2 22 Emilio John, Sacramento 23 10 2 22 Steve Reid, New Jersey 21 8 4 20 Leading Goalkeepers (1000 mins. needed to qualify) Min Svs GA SO GAA John Granville, So. Calif. 1545 100 17 7 0.99 Brian Parkinson, Los Angeles 1790 120 23 7 1.16 Jamir Canal, New York Apollo 1915 202 32 5 1.50 Peter Thomas, Sacramento 1452 88 25 3 1.55 Peter Mannos, Indianapolis 1709 178 30 4 1.58 Jerry Sularz, New Jersey 1340 124 25 2 1.68 Frank Bucci, Connecticut 1245 97 27 3 1.95 Van Taylor, New York Eagles 1826 155 45 1 2.22 Trevor Dance, Cleveland 1140 99 31 2 2.45 Most Valuable Player: Jim Rolland, Los Angeles Skyhawks Coach of the Year: Derek Lawther, California Sunshine Rookie of the Year: Emilio John, Sacramento Gold
The immediate roots of professional indoor soccer were eerily similar to those of the outdoor game. In 1967, when three separate groups of businessmen--egged on by stadium owners anxious to fill their grounds--saw a money making opportunity after the success of the 1966 World Cup. Now, in the wake of the NASL’s Pelé-driven success, three separate leagues--this time encouraged by arena owners seeking additional sources of revenue--announced that they would be forming professional indoor soccer leagues, all beginning play in 1978.
The first group was the immodestly titled Super Soccer League. This group, headed by Jerry Saperstein, son of Harlem Globetrotters founder Abe Saperstein, came into existence partly out of the junior Saperstein’s inability to get a hockey franchise for South Florida. Saperstein eventually grouped with the aforementioned Mssrs. Ragone and Sutherland, and announced that the league would begin playing a season beginning in April 1978 and continuing through November.
The second group was the brainchild of Ed Tepper. Three years after viewing the Atoms-Red Army game, Tepper approached his friend, Washington attorney Earl Foreman. Foreman was no stranger to the soccer wars, having been an owner of the Washington franchise in the United Soccer Association and the North American Soccer League. Tepper brought a video tape of an indoor game played between another touring Russian team--Leningrad Zenit--and Tampa Bay Rowdies. Foreman was excited by what he saw, and agreed to form a league with Tepper. In October 1977, the two contacted various arena owners who (not surprisingly) liked the concept and provided the duo with the seed money that enabled them to locate prospective owners. By October 1977, the two announced that the Major Indoor Soccer League would operate a circuit, concentrating on East Coast and Midwest cities, to begin play in the winter of 1978-79. In November 1978, it announced that it would begin play with 6 teams--Philadelphia, New York, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Houston, and Cincinnati--playing a 24 game schedule from late December 1978 to mid-March of the following year.
Meanwhile, the North American Soccer League, seeing a golden opportunity slip through its fingers, announced that it, too, would operate an indoor league through the winter of 1978-79, starting in December, with 18 of its 24 franchises participating. NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam stated that such a league was necessary to help Americans improve their level of play: "If [the U.S.] is to emerge as a world soccer power, provision must be made for players to have approximately 60 games a year to compete with the experience being gained by players overseas. Six-a-side soccer as a supplemental program is an ideal way to develop our young players." Indeed, all three leagues stated that their intention was to give American footballers a chance to develop their skills at a professional level. When the SSL was asked if it intended to raid the NASL for players since it was holding its indoor season concurrent with the older league’s outdoor season, Ragone responded, "we don’t need to go after players from the NASL. Instead, we will specialize in kids out of American colleges while importing a number of top players." Likewise, the MISL announced that, on its club’s 14 man rosters, a minimum of 10 would be American.
These altruistic pronouncements notwithstanding, the three leagues had bigger concerns to address, money and credibility being the two biggest factors. The MISL operated from the best position: it had secured solid ownership groups, and had also locked up most of the top arenas in the country, such as Philadelphia’s Spectrum, Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum, Houston’s Summit and Cleveland’s Richfield Coliseum. It also gained a significant coup in New York Arrows’ signing of American star Shep Messing, the goalkeeper on the 1977 NASL Champion New York Cosmos. The NASL, on the other hand, enjoyed name recognition and, in theory (as many outdoor stars were ambivalent about the indoor game), higher-quality players.
At first, however, it appeared that the SSL was going to be the king of the hill. It announced that it had secured a five year, $2.5 million dollar television contract from 20th Century Fox Television, calling for three SSL games to be televised in 1978, with the number increasing in future seasons. However, the Saperstein group’s inability to get its season started--after originally announcing an April 1978 start date, the league then announced that it would begin play in May, then June, then July and then November before finally holding off until April 1979--placed this deal in serious jeopardy almost immediately after it was signed.
The SSL was unable to get its season started as planned because it could not stabilize its franchise situation. While the MISL was stable with 6 teams, the SSL fluctuated from the originally announced number of 16 to 12, then 8, then 7 when the Atlanta franchise backed out, then back to 8 when new owners were allegedly found for that group. Eight months from its projected April 1979 start date, the SSL announced that it planned to open with 12 teams in a two-division line-up. However, the line-up at the time of the announcement only included Washington Fever (owned by Ragone), Birmingham Bandits (owned by SSL co-founder Billy Lyons), Shreveport (headed by Cal Rockefeller), New York Fever, Atlanta, and South Florida (Miami). Even at the time of the announcement, though, only Washington, Birmingham and Shreveport actually existed. Other rumored franchises in New England, New Jersey, Toronto, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle simply never materialized. In the end, a lack of financial preparation killed the league in its cradle. The Super Soccer League never played a game.
The NASL, meanwhile, also ultimately held off on its plans to form an indoor league. While many owners wanted to wait and see how well the MISL did, they, too, were also unprepared to start an indoor circuit on such short notice. The net result was that, in December 1978, the Major Indoor Soccer League was the only indoor game in town. (see the 1979 review for results of the MISL's inaugural 1978-79 season).
The preparations for World Cup 1982 began in August 1089, and Walt Chyzowych assembled a young (average age 22) team for a seven game tour of Europe. This marked the continuation of serious attempts to keep a team together long enough for adequate practice time. No longer would teams be assembled right before the games only to fall apart on the field. The entire squad had NASL experience, led by Ricky Davis, Gary Etherington, Dave Brcic of the Cosmos, Greg Makowski, Arnie Mausser, Louis Nanchoff, Glenn Myernick, Steve Ralbovsky the promising Jim McAlister of the Seattle Sounders, and Al Trost of Houston. Chyzowych intended to test the players against European competition.
The US opened with a draw against Iceland 0-0, then they lost to Switzerland 2-0 and beat Olympic of Marseilles France 1-0. Although this was a club team, it was the first victory by a US team in Europe since 1924, when the Olympic team efeated Poland 4-3 in a friendly in Warsaw. The US went on to lose to Borussia Dortmund, a Bundesliga powerhouse, tied Kininklijke of Belgium 1-1, before losing to the Scottish U-21's 3-1 and Portugal 1-0. This was the best performance by the National team ever in Europe, and already a core of half a dozen players had formed. The team was clearly making progres.
The Olympic "B" Team was considerably busier, participating in the Bellinzona Tournament in Bellinzona, Switcerland. After trouts at Rollins park in Winter Park, FL, Coach Walter Czychowych selected players with both college and NASL experience, including David Brcic, Ricky Davis, Gary Etherington, Larry Hulcer and Perry Van Der Beck. The Americans defeated Zagreb of Yugoslavia, Borussia Moenchengladback of west germany, Wolverhampton Wanderers of England, and the Tunisian national team. This was the United Stated' first title in an international tournament. The US shut out all opponents, scoring six goals. Gary Etherington was the tournament MVP. Unfortunately, the luck didn't continue. In Seoul, South Korea, the US was quickly eliminated from a tournament.
The US sent their youngest team ever (U-15) to a tournament in Montaigu, France against seven other teams. Coached by Bill Muse and Lothar Osiander, the US played two scoreless games against Romania and Portugal before losing 5-0 to France and 1-0 to West Germany.
1978 Totals: 0W, 1D, 2L (Full internationals only) Sep 20 78 L 0-1 Portugal Setubal, Portugal Sep 06 78 L 0-2 Switzerland Lucerne, Switzerland Sep 03 78 D 0-0 Iceland Reykjavik, Iceland
Ft. Lauderdale Strikers February 6, 1978 - February 15, 1978. Record: 1 win, 2 losses, 3 draws 2/5/78 Ft. Lauderdale Strikers at Lisieux Hall (Eng.) 2/6/78 Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 4 at Stockport County (England) 2 2/8/78 Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 2 at Blackpool (England) 3 2/10/78 Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 0 at Workington Afc (England) 0 2/13/78 Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 2 at Portsmouth (England) 2 2/15/78 Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 2 at Port Vale (England) 4 Manchester United (England 1st Div.) May 28, 1978 - May 30, 1978. Record: 1 win, 1 loss, 0 draws 5/28/78 Manchester United (England) 2 at Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 5/30/78 Manchester United (England) 2 at Tulsa Roughnecks 1 Tulsa Roughnecks September 6, 1978 - September 21, 1978. Record: 3 wins, 2 losses, 3 draws, 9/11/78 Tulsa Roughnecks 0 at Coleraine (Northern Ireland) 0 9/12/78 Tulsa Roughnecks 1 at Ards (Northern Ireland) 0 9/13/78 Tulsa Roughnecks 1 at Glenavon (Northern Ireland) 2 9/18/78 Tulsa Roughnecks 1 at Galway (Ireland) 1 9/19/78 Tulsa Roughnecks 1 at Sligo Rovers (Ireland) 0 9/20/78 Tulsa Roughnecks 1 at Dundalk (Ireland) 1 10/9/78 Tulsa Roughnecks 3 at Portsmouth (England) 0 New York Cosmos September 12, 1978 - October 11, 1978. Record: 3 wins, 5 loss, 1 draw. 9/12/78 New York Cosmos 1 at Bayern Munich (Germany) 7 9/14/78 New York Cosmos 2 at Brescia (Germany) 1 9/19/78 New York Cosmos 1 at Stuttgart (Germany) 6 9/21/78 New York Cosmos 0 at Freiburger (Germany) 2 9/26/78 New York Cosmos 1 at Chelsea (England) 1 9/30/78 New York Cosmos 3 at Atletico Madrid (Spain) 2 10/4/78 New York Cosmos 5 at AEK (Greece) 3 10/9/78 New York Cosmos 4 at Red Star Belgrade (Yugoslav 6 10/11/78 New York Cosmos 0 at Galatasaray (Turkey) 2 New York Cosmos October 31, 1978 - November 21, 1978. Record: 3 wins, 3 losses, 2 draws. 10/31/78 New York Cosmos 1 at Barcelona (Ecuador) 1 11/3/78 New York Cosmos 1 at Argentina National Youth Te 2 11/7/78 New York Cosmos 1 at Cordoba Belgrano (Argentina 1 11/12/78 New York Cosmos 2 at Independiente Rivadavia (Ar 1 11/16/78 New York Cosmos 2 at Boca Juniors (Argentina) 4 11/18/78 New York Cosmos 0 at CAR (Bolivia) 2 11/21/78 New York Cosmos 3 at Vila Nova (Brazil) 2
In the NCAA Division 1 tournament, third round action saw Clemson defeated St. Francis 4-0, San Francisco defeated Santa Clara 3-2 (OT), Philadelphia Textile defeated Connecticut 3-0, and Indiana defeated SIU-Edwardsville 2-0. In the semifinals, San Francisco defeated Clemson 2-1 and Indiana defeated Philadelphia Textile 2-0. The Championship was held December 10 at Tampa, FL. The third place game was taken by Clemson 6-2 over Philadelphia Textile, and the championship was won by San Francisco, who defeated Indiana 2-0.
In the NCAA Divsion 2 tournament, third round action saw Southern Connecticut State defeat New Haven 3-1. Seattle Pacific defeated San Francisco State 2-1, Eastern Illinois defeated Missouri-St. Louis 1-0, and Alabama A&M defeated Loyola (MD) 4-0. In the semifinals, Seattle Pacific defeated Southern Connecticut State 1-0 (triple overtime), and Alabama A&M defeated Eastern Illinois 5-0. The Championship was held December 2 in Miami, FL. The Third Place game was taken by Eastern Illinois, defeating Southern Connecticut State 2-1, and the championship was won by Seattle Pacific, who defeated Alabama A&M 1-0 in double overtime.
In the NCAA Division 3 tournament, second round action saw Massachusetts Liberal Arts defeat Babson 0-0 in penalty kicks. Washington (Mo.) defeated Ohio Weslayen 1-0, Cortland State defeated Union (NY) 2-0, and Lock Haven defeated Scranton 2-1 in overtime. In the semifinals, Washington (MO) defeated Mass Liberal Arts 1-0, and Lock haven defeated Cortland State 1-0. The Championship was held November 25 in Boston, MA. In the third place game, Cortland State defeated Mass Liberal Arts 2-1 in overtime, and in the championship, Lock Haven defeated Washington (MO) 3-0.
NAIA Championship: Quincy 2, Alabama-Huntsville 0
NJCAA Championship: Ulster County Community College 2, Florissant Valley C. C. 1
NCCAA Championship: Messiah 2, John Wesley 1
Coaches' Final Poll: 1. San Francisco 2. Indiana 3. Clemson 4. Philadelphia Textile 5. Quincy 6. Southern Illinois 7. Alabama A&M 8. Seattle Pacific 9. Connecticut 10. St. Francis (NY) Conference Champions: Pacific Soccer Conference: San Francisco New England Intercollegiate Soccer League: Connecticut Ivy League: Columbia Metropolitan Intercollegiate Soccer Conference: Adelphi Atlantic Coast Conference: Clemson New York State Athletic Conference: Brockport Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate League: Denver Southern Conference: (unavailable) Texas Intercollegiate League: Southern Methodist Yankee Conference: Connecticut Virginia Intercollegiate Soccer Conference: William & Mary Far Western Conference: San Francisco State Carolinas Conference: Atlantic Christian Massachusetts State Conference: North Adams State New Jersey State Conference: Kean Pennsylvania Conference: Lock Haven Kentucky Conference: Berea Presidents Athletic Conference: Allegheny Independent College Athletic Conference: Rensselaer Tennessee Conference: Tenn Weslayen Michigan Intercollegiate Conference: Calvin Minnesota Intercollegiate Conference: St. Thomas West Virginia Conference: Davis & Elkins Northwest Conference: Central Washington Midwest Conference: Carleton Southern California Athletic Conference: Claremont-Mudd Middle Atlantic States Athletic Conference: Scranton College All-Americans: G - Dragan Radovich, St. Francis (NY) B - George Gorleku, Eastern Illinois B - Adrian Brooks, Philadelphia Textile B - Greg Ryan, Southern Methodist B - Ty Keough, St. Louis B - Barry Nix, Columbia F - Raymond Ford, Maryland-Baltimore F - George Lesyw, Temple F - Peter Notaro, Loyola (MD) F - James Stamatis, Penn State F - Ole Mikkelsen, UCLAHermann Trophy: Angelo DiBernardo, Indiana
James P. McGuire (National Junior) Cup: Imo's Pizza, St. Louis
CONCACAF Champions Cup: Los Angeles Maccabbee took part, but did not advance. The section winners (Universidad Guadalajara, Comunicaciones and Defence Force) were declared joint winners.
CONCACAF U-20 Championships: The U.S. finished 2nd in their group, beating Guatemale 2-1, Jamaica 2-1 and drawing 0-0 with Cuba. In the second round they didn't do so well. A 0-0 draw with Canada, a 3-1 loss to Guatemala and a 1-0 loss to Honduras left them in last place. Mexico beat Canada 1-0 in the final.
National Soccer Hall of Fame: In 1978, Raymond Bernabei, Lawrence Briggs, Frank McGrath, and Al Zerhusen, were inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. Paul Bourdeau and Jack Schrumpf were inducted into the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association hall of fame.
Last update: October 27, 2003
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