Written by Steve Holroyd (firstname.lastname@example.org), with supplemental materials by David Litterer (email@example.com)
The third year of President Howard Samuels' reign found him still trying to right the sinking ship that was the North American Soccer League. Seven years after Pelé's triumphant farewell, the league entered its 17th season smaller than it had been in over a decade.
Ominously, several long-time and successful franchises dropped out prior to the 1984 campaign. The Seattle Sounders, after being undone by a misguided pan-Americanism under new ownership in 1983 (among other things, the new owners tried to attract "casual" fans with the catchphrase "Red, White, Black and Blue"--not exactly a harbinger of good soccer), collapsed under heavy losses.
A similar blunder caused the demise of the Montreal Manic franchise. In what may the quintessential example of an owner totally misreading his customer base, the Manic announced, in mid-1983, that the Montreal club would act as "Team Canada" in 1984, emulating the Team America concept. Unfortunately, no one bothered to consider how such an announcement would be received in Montreal, an pro-French city that has never considered itself especially "Canadian," particularly in the glow of the various Quebec separatist movements in progress at the time. All at one, the 25,000 plus crowds who supported Le Manic disappeared. The team followed suit shortly after the 1983 season. Another change was in the league rules: now, five North American players were required on the pitch at all times. After Team America drowned in a sea of red ink, however, teams had plenty of Americans to choose from.
Thus, the NASL entered 1984 with only nine teams, with four of them--Chicago, San Diego, Tampa Bay and defending champion Tulsa--on shaky financial ground.
In order to shore up the league's precarious financial situation, Samuels instituted salary caps and cut back expenses in the league office. Also, figuring that more money was to be made in the indoor season, the league cut its schedule from 30 games to 24 in order to make room for the projected 40 game 1984-85 indoor season.
Given the emphasis on indoor soccer, Ft. Lauderdale needed to move, since the Florida city lacked a suitable facility. Accordingly, the Strikers relocated to Minnesota, and signed a number of ex-Kicks to try to recapture the city's old soccer magic.
After a strong indoor campaign, the Cosmos appeared to be favorites to, once again, with the NASL title. With Eddie Firmani back at the helm, and indoor star Stan Terlecki joining Roberto Cabanas up front, there was plenty of good cause for optimism. The always dangerous Chicago club was expected to give the New Yorkers a challenge, along with Tampa Bay, now coached by ex-Rowdie legend Rodney Marsh. The new Minnesota side and Vancouver looked to dominate the Western Division.
Golden Bay also figured to challenge, given the lethal one-two punch of Steve Zungul and Branko Segota. Indeed, the two strikers did not disappoint, becoming the only teammates to finish one-two in scoring. But the San Jose club was a sieve defensively, and finished in last in the West.
The end of the season found Chicago and Toronto, both from the Eastern Division, facing off in the final. For the first time since 1975, the one-game "Soccer Bowl" final was eliminated, and a best-of-three series was held. Toronto, with leading goalkeeper Paul Hammond between the pipes and Italian star Roberto Bettega complimenting David Byrne up front, figured to be favored to take the crown. Chicago stunned them, however, sweeping the series and becoming the NASL's only other repeat champion (along with the Cosmos).
The Cosmos, sadly, went out with a whimper in 1984. With Cabanas never getting on track, and Steve Moyers hurt, the team couldn't score--a rarity for Cosmos sides. Only the dismal performance of Rodney Marsh's Rowdies kept the five-time champions from finishing in the basement.
Unfortunately, attendance continued to drop. Ironically, with crowds of over 100,000 attending Olympic soccer matches in Los Angeles, most NASL teams could barely break 10,000 without resorting to gimmickry. The Minnesota Strikers drew over 50,000 to one match, for example, but only because the Beach Boys were scheduled to perform after the match.
Things were so desperate that the Cosmos attempted to go to the well one more time, and actually asked Pelé to come out of retirement seven years after his last season. Fortunately, the great star had the sense to say no.
As the season was winding down, the NASL was faced with a mutiny: San Diego, Minnesota, New York, and Chicago announced that they had been accepted into the Major Indoor Soccer League. Tulsa was eager to jump, as well, but the MISL would not take them because of their small size.
The league actually made plans to soldier on. Toronto President Clive Toye spoke gamely of using the defection of clubs who were only interested in playing indoors anyway as an opportunity to restore a "pure" outdoor game--no 6 points for a win, no bonus points for goals, no 35 yard lines. He was not helped, however, by news that Vancouver would not carry on. Although there was hope that F.C. Seattle, a successful independent club featuring ex-Cosmo Jeff Durgan and scoring sensation Brent Goulet, would join up for 1985 (Seattle scrimmaged a number of NASL teams in 1984), this still left a circuit featuring only San Jose, Tulsa, Tampa Bay, Toronto, and (possibly) Seattle. Ironically, the NASL's last Rookie of the Year, Roy Wegerle, would become one of two "bridges" between the NASL and MLS (along with Hugo Sanchez), as he finished his professional career in Major league Soccer, after starring for several years on the US National team.
Meanwhile, a deal of Babe Ruth-like dimensions took place after the season. Needing an influx of cash, Golden Bay sold Zungul and Segota to San Diego for $100,000. Besides being pretty effective outdoor players, Zungul and Segota were also two of the greatest indoor players of all-time. The deal helped cement San Diego's growing soccer dynasty.
For all of the NASL's failings, no one would disagree that Howard Samuels was a hard-working and committed executive. Alas, he worked too hard: in early 1985, Howard Samuels died of a heart attack. Essentially, any hope of keeping the NASL alive died with him.
It was with a whimper, and not a bang, that the North American Soccer League disappeared from the American soccer landscape, taking with it the country's only Division One league. The reasons for its failure after the great successes of the late 1970s are legion, and are worthy of an article unto themselves, and won't be repeated here. Suffice it to say, the loss of the circuit was a crushing blow to American soccer fortunes, along with the U.S.'s again failing to qualify for a World Cup, this time the 1986 edition in Mexico. It would take a full decade before the sport would recover any semblance of major league status.
Final NASL League Standings, 1984 Before the season, Ft. Lauderdale moved to Minnesota. G W L GF GA PTS % Att. Eastern Division Chicago Sting 24 13 11 50 49 120 .541 8,376 Toronto Blizzard 24 14 10 46 33 117 .583 11,452 New York Cosmos 24 13 11 43 42 115 .541 12,817 Tampa Bay Rowdies 24 9 15 43 61 87 .375 10,932 Western Division San Diego Sockers 24 14 10 51 42 118 .583 5,702 Vancouver Whitecaps 24 13 11 51 48 117 .541 13,924 Minnesota Strikers 24 14 10 40 44 115 .583 14,263 Tulsa Roughnecks 24 10 14 42 46 98 .416 7,797 Golden Bay Earthquakes 24 8 16 61 62 95 .333 10,676 Semi-finals: Chicago defeated Vancouver 0-1(OT),3-1, 4-3 Toronto defeated San Diego 2-1, 1-0. CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES-84: Chicago defeated Toronto 2-0. Transatlantic Cup Champion: New York Cosmos After the season, Tulsa folded. During the fall, San Diego, Chicago, New York, and Minnesota joined the MISL for the indoor season. In March, the league folded, along with Toronto, Tampa Bay, Vancouver and Golden Bay. The Cosmos played exhibition games during 1985 before folding. San Diego, Chicago and Minnesota remained with the MISL. Leading Scorers GP G A TP Steve Zungul, Golden Bay 24 20 10 50 Branko Segota, Golden Bay 24 18 11 47 Ron Futcher, Tulsa 23 18 8 44 Karl-Heinz Granitza, Chicago 24 16 12 44 Peter Ward, Vancouver 24 16 10 42 Ade Coker, San Diego 22 16 7 39 David Byrne, Toronto 20 12 13 37 Alan Willey, Minnesota 24 15 4 34 Jean Willrich, San Diego 22 5 20 30 Roberto Bettega, Toronto 23 8 13 29 Pato Margetic, Chicago 23 7 14 28 Roy Wegerle (Tampa Bay) 21 9 7 25 Ace Ntsoelengoe (Toronto) 21 8 8 24 Kaz Deyna (San Diego) 21 8 8 24 Neill Roberts (Tampa Bay) 23 9 5 23 Seninho (Chicago) 23 8 7 23 Fran O’Brien (Vancouver) 24 7 9 23 David Cross (Vancouver) 20 10 2 22 Frans Thijssen (Vancouver) 24 7 7 21 John Bain (Minnesota) 22 4 13 21 Roberto Cabanas (New York) 15 8 4 20 Chance Fry (Tulsa) 22 8 4 20 Carl Valentine (Vancouver) 21 4 12 20 Steve Wegerle (Tampa Bay) 23 3 14 20 Leading Goalkeepers (1300 mins. needed to qualify) GP Min SV GA SO GAA Paul Hammond (Toronto) 21 1937 60 25 7 1.16 Hubert Birkenmeier (N.Y.) 22 2007 156 34 2 1.50 Tino Lettieri (Minnesota) 18 1622 81 28 4 1.55 Victor Nogueira (Chicago) 18 1663 122 30 3 1.62 Winston DuBose (Tulsa) 22 1931 85 38 4 1.77 Paul Bradshaw (Vancouver) 24 2161 106 46 4 1.92 Jim Gorsek (San Diego) 15 1369 75 32 0 2.10 Arnold Mausser (Tampa Bay) 23 2100 128 57 3 2.44 Bill Irwin (Golden Bay) 21 1964 98 54 2 2.48 Most Valuable Player: Steve Zungul, Golden Bay Earthquakes Coach of the Year: Ron Newman, San Diego Sockers Rookie of the Year: Roy Wegerle, Tampa Bay Rowdies NASL All-Star Team - 1st Team G - Hubert Birkenmeier New York Cosmos D - Andranik Eskandarian New York Cosmos D - Johan Neeskens New York Cosmos D - Kevin Crow San Diego Sockers D - Bruce Wilson Toronto Blizzard M - Ray Hudson Minnesota Strikers M - Frans Thijssen Vancouver Whitecaps M - Vladislav Bogicevic New York Cosmos F - Steve Zungul Golden Bay Earthquakes F - Karl-Heinz Granitza Chicago Sting F - Peter Ward Vancouver Whitecaps
After a one year's hiatus, the North American Soccer League again staged an indoor season in the winter preceding the outdoor schedule. With only seven teams participating, one would think that the NASL was de-emphasizing its emphasis on the indoor game. To the contrary, the league had all but committed itself to becoming a full-time indoor circuit, announcing plans to play a 40 game schedule in 1984-85 and to shorten the outdoor schedule that year. Rather, the shrinking number of teams was attributable to the amount of franchises going belly-up.
Once again, the San Diego Sockers established themselves as the class of the circuit during the regular season. Ironically, the team did so with a roster that barely resembled their outdoor team: two of the Sockers primary stars, forward Julie Veee and goalkeeper Alan Mayer, had contracts that did not require them to play outdoors.
For a change, however, the Sockers faced some competition: after years of indoor mediocrity, the New York Cosmos lived up to their reputation by becoming an indoor force, ultimately finishing only one game behind San Diego in the standings. Right there with New York was the Chicago Sting, with the one-two punch of lethal scorer Karl-Heinz Granitza and 20-game winner Victor Noguiera in goal. Rounding out the playoff contenders was Golden Bay, who relied upon the "Lord of All Indoors," Steve Zungul, for goals, but could also enjoy the outstanding goalkeeping of veteran Bob Rigby, the man who virtually invented the position of indoor goalkeeper ten years earlier.
The semifinals found San Diego making short work of their California neighbors. In the east, however, there was a genuine dog-fight between New York and Chicago. The Cosmos called in some "ringers" during the playoffs, with Roberto Cabanas joining the club after eschewing the indoor game during the regular season. Having the 1983 leading outdoor scorer was a big boost, and the Cosmos took the series on the strength of two one-goal victories.
Steve Zungul, already setting scoring records in the MISL accomplished a unique "triple", finishing as the leading goal scorer in the NASL outdoor, the NASL indoor and the MISL, all within a 12 month period! Ironically, two players who made their first showings in the scoring leaders chart would remain significant forces through the rest of the century; Tatu with Tampa Bay, who would become one of the all-time top scorers in indoor history, and Carl valentine who would remain as a player and coach with Vancouver-based teams, through 1999.
In a polar turn from prior seasons, the Cosmos entered the finals as a unified team, harmonious and prepared to claim yet another New York championship. Along with Cabanas, Stan Terlecki and Chico Borja were scoring goals, while David Brcic finally blossomed as a goalkeeping star. The Sockers, on the other hand, were known as the "Los Angeles Raiders of soccer," in light of the fact that team's players were barely on speaking terms with one another. When push came to shove, however, the Sockers rallied to sweep the Cosmos to take a third straight championship in two leagues.
It was the last title the "old" Sockers would enjoy; during the outdoor season, mainstays like Veee and Mayer were summarily dispatched to the MISL's Las Vegas franchise. In their place, however, came the cornerstone of the "new" Sockers dynasty--the golden duo of Steve Zungul and Branko Segota, acquired during the outdoor season in the Golden Bay fire sale.
Final NASL Indoor League Standings, 1983-84 G W L GB % GF GA San Diego Sockers 32 21 11 -- .656 196 148 11,415 Chicago Sting 32 20 12 1 .625 219 198 New York Cosmos 32 20 12 1 .625 183 148 Golden Bay Earthquakes 32 19 13 2 .594 206 190 Vancouver Whitecaps 32 12 20 9 .375 187 209 Tulsa Roughnecks 32 11 21 10 .344 166 216 Tampa Bay Rowdies 32 9 23 12 .281 177 225 2,692 Playoffs: New York defeated Chicago 4-3, 3-7 and 8-7. San Diego defeated Golden bay 5-2 and 7-2. CHAMPIONSHIP: San Diego defeated New York 3-0. Leading Scorers GP G A TP Steve Zungul, Golden Bay 32 63 56 119 Karl-Heinz Granitza, Chicago 32 59 33 92 Julie Veee, San Diego 28 45 29 74 Carl Valentine, Vancouver 32 44 26 70 Chico Borja, New York 31 29 37 66 Godfrey Ingram, Golden Bay 32 38 25 63 Tatu, Tampa Bay 30 49 11 60 Stan Terlecki (New York) 23 34 23 57 Peter Ward (Vancouver) 28 42 12 54 Kaz Denya (San Diego) 27 28 24 52 Leading Goalkeepers (Min. 1000 minutes to qualify) GP Min SV GA W-L GAA Jim Gorsek, San Diego 18 1074 257 73 14-4 4.08 Vic Nogueira, Chicago 32 1873 476 136 20-10 4.36 Bob Rigby, Golden Bay 31 1890 447 184 18-13 5.84 David Brcic, New York 26 1570 451 155 18-8 5.92 Jurgen Stars, Tampa Bay 26 1506 371 171 8-18 6.81 Winston DuBose (Tulsa) 1416 300 161 7-15 6.82
The writing was on the wall for the North American Soccer League for some time: rampant over-spending, few opportunities for Americans, and little contact with the local community contributed significantly to its downfall over the past few years.
However, many people still believed in the sport of soccer, and thought that all that was needed was to return the sport to its grass roots--essentially, shooting for the NASL of the 1973-1974 era, before Pelé had driven salaries through the roof, and when local communities felt a genuine connection with teams like the Philadelphia Atoms, San Jose Earthquakes, Minnesota Kicks, and Seattle Sounders. With this goal in mind, the United Soccer League was born in February 1984.
At first blush, it appeared that the USL was simply a continuation of the American Soccer League, which had folded and the conclusion of its 50th season in 1983. Indeed, former ASL sides Dallas Americans and Jacksonville Tea Men could be counted among the USL's teams, along with the Oklahoma City Stampede, a direct descendant of the ASL's Slickers. Similarly, the Rochester Flash also returned, after having taken the 1983 ASL season off.
However, the USL was intended to be much more than a continuation of the ASL. Adopting a strict five-point policy, the league hoped to save the sport of soccer in America by focusing on the very issues NASL teams had ignored:
1. Fiscal responsibility; 2. Regionalization; 3. Orderly expansion; 4. Americanization; and 5. A strong, lean office.
A key facet of the USL was that the league planned on operating as a year-round entity with its franchises fielding indoor clubs in addition to the outdoor squads. "The impact of a club playing both seasons with basically the same roster will have an effect on the general operation of a franchise," said Dr. William R. Burfeind, the USL's Commissioner. "Rivalries, player identification, fan interest, etc. will all be perpetuated by our operating year round. In addition, the overall costs will be considerably less than starting up another operation."
Americanization was emphasized, and the league required that 14 out of a team's 18 players be American. Similarly, a strict salary cap of $175,000 was imposed, with the figure to go to $350,000 if the team participated in the indoor season. Exceptions to the cap could be made, but only with approval of a majority of the owners.
The USL's logic was a breath of fresh air, and a number of franchises joined the ex-ASL teams. Joining Dallas, Jacksonville, Rochester and Oklahoma City were the Buffalo Storm, Charlotte Gold, Ft. Lauderdale Sun, Houston Dynamos, and New York Nationals. Excitement over the league was such that two NASL teams, the Tulsa Roughnecks and Tampa Bay Rowdies, almost jumped to the new circuit.
Similarly, the number one American-born player at that time, Ricky Davis, was also eager to help out. He was willing to play for the New York Nationals. However, the other league owners, citing fiscal austerity, refused to give New York a salary cap exemption.
No matter: the league received great support from Soccer America and Soccer Digest, and appeared to be running on all cylinders. In what was a hopeful omen, the league's offices were located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, an act sure to put a smile on any soccer historian's face.
Some once and future stars dotted USL rosters. Buffalo featured former Rochester Lancer Dennis Mempham, and two brothers who would go on to make names for themselves in indoor soccer for years to come--Rudy and Randy Pikuzinski. Charlotte was led by player-coach Dave D'Errico, long-time national team defender, and also included NASL super-sub Pat Fidelia. All-time Peruvian great Teofilo "Nene" Cubillas suited up for Ft. Lauderdale, along with NASL veterans Dave Watson, Geoff Wall and Keith Weller. Houston acquired the "Babe Ruth of the ASL," Jose Neto, and Jacksonville featured another minor league soccer legend, Ringo Cantillo. Although without Davis, New York could still list Michael Collins, Rich Reice, and Jim Gabarra on its roster.
Given the NASL-caliber talent on its roster, it was no surprise the Ft. Lauderdale would establish itself as the class of the league. The Sun racked up 122 points under the USL scoring system, which was similar to the NASL system with bonus points and such. Oklahoma took the regular season crown thanks to such bonus points, since it shared an identical 15-9 record with Ft. Lauderdale.
The Sun would get their revenge, winning the first USL championship by defeating the Stampede, 2 games to one, in the final.
Even with its austere financial measures, however, the league struggled. The New York franchise, key to any league, struggled financially, and gave the league an ill-timed black eye. The USL survived, however, and would return for 1985--which was more than its big brother, the NASL, could say.
Final USL League Standings, 1984 Jacksonville, Charlotte (formerly Carolina), Dallas, and Oklahoma City joined the league from the defunct American Soccer League II. G W T L GF GA PTS % Southern Division Ft Lauderdale Sun 24 15 0 9 53 34 122 .625 Charlotte Gold 24 11 0 13 48 59 105 .458 Jacksonville Tea Men 24 11 0 13 46 50 98 .458 Northern Division Buffalo Storm 24 11 0 13 48 41 96 .458 New York Nationals 24 10 0 14 32 53 84 .417 Rochester Flash 24 7 0 17 27 49 65 .292 Western Division Oklahoma City Stampede 24 15 0 9 55 42 127 .625 Houston Dynamos 24 13 0 11 54 38 112 .542 Dallas Americans 24 14 0 10 37 34 110 .583 Wild-Card: Houston defeated Dallas 2-1 Semifinals: Houston defeated Oklahoma City 3-1, 2-1 Ft. Lauderdale defeated Buffalo 3-0, 5-1 CHAMPIONSHIP: Ft. Lauderdale defeated Houston 1-2, 2-1, 3-0. After the season, Charlotte, Buffalo, Jacksonville, New York, Rochester, Oklahoma City, and Houston folded. Leading Scorers: GP G A Pts Jose Neto, Houston 21 22 8 30 David Kemp, Oklahoma City 28 Thompson Usiyan, Oklahoma City 26 Mark Schwartz, Ft. Lauderdale 24 13 6 19 Carlos Salguero, Buffalo 19 Tony Johnson, Houston 22 11 7 18 Leading Goalkeepers (2000 mins. needed to qualify) GP Min SO GA GAA W-L Jim Tietjens, Ft, Lauderdale 23 2165 5 43 1.33 14-9 Randy Phillips, Dallas 24 2280 7 34 1.34 14-10 Mike Barbarick, Houston 24 2162 6 35 1.46 12-11 Delroy Allen, Oklahoma City 22 2064 3 37 1.61 14-8 Coombs, Rochester 24 2240 2 48 1.93 7-17 special thanks to Robert Scorca for supplying the leading scorers and goalkeepers! Most Valuable Player: Jose Neto, Houston Dynamos Rookie of the Year: Mark Schwartz, Ft. Lauderdale Sun Coach of the Year: Gary Hindley, Houston Dynamos Executive of the Year: Peter Kane, Houston Dynamos
Now in its sixth year of existence, the Major Indoor Soccer League could sit back and revel in its success. In very little time, the MISL had eclipsed the NASL in terms of popularity. In fact, many soccer pundits had taken to predicting that it was indoor soccer, and not the outdoor game, that was destined to make the game go over in the United States. Indeed, it appeared as if the North American Soccer League was conceding defeat, especially when it announced that its 1984-85 indoor season would be 40 games long, with its outdoor being shortened as a result.
Although MISL Commissioner would rightly crow about his league's "victory," 1984-85 was an up-and-down year for the junior circuit. Some franchises became booming successes: Baltimore played to near sellout crowds every night (11,188 average), and St. Louis (13,995), Kansas City (15,786), and Cleveland (13,100) also drew large crowds on a regular basis. Cleveland's turnaround was spectacular, given the fact the team averaged a paltry 6,609 a game just a year earlier. On the other hand, the once promising Buffalo franchise became an embarrassment, and was caught trying to sneak out of town, Baltimore Colts style, in July. Similarly, the Phoenix Pride (née Inferno) would also be gone by the end of the year.
And what of the New York Arrows? Winners of the MISL's first four titles, the Arrows were shadows of their former selves, especially after the trade of Steve Zungul to Golden Bay the prior season. In 1983-84, the club finished a woeful 20-28, worst in club history, while going through three coaches and after trading its leading scorer, the durable Fred Grgurev, midway through the season. Like Buffalo, New York would be gone by July.
On the field, however, the league had another successful season. Baltimore's Stan Stamenkovic, rescued from the hell of the moribund Memphis franchise and free of the looming shadows of Zungul and Branko Segota, who were playing in the "other" league, the "Pizza Man" led the league in scoring en route to the MVP award. Baltimore forward Joe Fink became the first American to score 200 career MISL goals. Goalkeepers also had a good year: St. Louis goalkeeper Slobo Ilijevski broke his own record, establishing a new GAA mark with his 3.67 average. Wichita's Mike Dowler set league standards for games played, minutes played, and shots faced. The irrepressible Sheep Messing became the first goalkeeper to earn 100 wins, even though he was essentially the only bright spot on a dying Arrows squad. Finally, Phoenix goalkeeper Blagoje Tamindzic became the first goalkeeper to score a goal on an actual shot when he dribbled the length of the field and fired a shot past a stunned Kansas City goalkeeper Jim Tiejens on March 10. Tamindzic's reward? A stern reprimand from his coach for taking such a risk.
After a long season and playoff schedule, the league's two division winners faced off in the final. St. Louis remained a sentimental favorite, given their failures in two other finals against New York, and also given their status as the league's flagship franchise. They were also not without a measure of talent: coach Dave Clemens had his players embracing the "total soccer" concept. Along with Ilijevski in goal, the Steamers could count on top defenders such as Steve Pecher and Tony Bellinger. Up top, meanwhile, St. Louis scored a major coup by signing away Ricky Davis from the New York Cosmos. Davis, who wound up the team's leading scorer in spite of a series of nagging injuries, received help with the acquisition of Njego Pesa from a sagging Arrows franchise. Rounding out the Steamers roster was attacking midfielder Daryl Doran and play starter Ty Keough. Unfortunately for St. Louis, they faced a red-hot Baltimore team in the finals. With Joey Fink scoring five goals in the decisive fifth game, and the impeccable goalkeeping tandem of Keith Van Eron and Scott Manning minding the nets, the Blast simply overwhelmed their opposition.
Overall, it was a successful year for the league. Trouble loomed on the horizon, however: during the year, the players voted to unionize, with the Major Indoor League Soccer Players Association becoming certified as the collective bargaining representative by a 175-38 vote.
Final MISL League Standings, 1983-84 Before the season, Denver was reactivated and moved to Tacoma. Phoenix changed their name to the Pride. G W L GF GA GB % Eastern Division Baltimore Blast 48 34 14 280 203 -- .708 Pittsburgh Spirit 48 32 16 245 204 2 .667 Cleveland Force 48 31 17 269 229 3 .646 New York Arrows 48 20 28 232 280 14 .417 Memphis Americans 48 18 30 216 284 16 .375 Buffalo Stallions 48 15 33 226 279 19 .313 Western Division St. Louis Steamers 48 26 22 220 202 -- .542 Wichita Wings 48 25 23 237 228 1 .521 Los Angeles Lazers 48 24 24 223 239 2 .500 Kansas City Comets 48 23 25 232 246 4 .500 Tacoma Stars 48 22 26 226 232 4 .375 Phoenix Pride 48 18 30 221 249 8 .375 1st Round: Baltimore defeated New York 11-5, 8-9(OT), 4-3, 14-5. Cleveland defeated Pittsburgh 6-4, 1-4, 6-5(OT), 5-3. Wichita defeated Los Angeles 10-7, 4-6, 5-4, 6-5. St. Louis defeated Kansas City 6-4, 7-6, 1-2, 3-5, 6-5. Semi-Finals: Baltimore defeated Cleveland 5-4, 6-5, 7-2 St. Louis defeated Wichita 4-3, 7-6, 5-4(OT) CHAMPIONSHIP: Baltimore defeated St. Louis 3-7, 5-3, 5-2, 5-4(OT), 10-3 After the season, Buffalo and Phoenix folded. New York went bankrupt. All-Star Game: Eastern Division defeated Western Division 8-6. (at St. Louis, MO. Att: 16,312. MVP: Stan Stamenkovic) Leading Scorers GP G A TP Stan Stamenkovic, Baltimore 46 34 63 97 Kai Haaskivi, Cleveland 47 37 51 88 Craig Allen, Cleveland 44 49 37 86 Mark Liveric, New York 48 58 26 84 Fred Grgurev, Memphis 50 42 34 76 Andy Chapman, Wichita 46 53 21 74 Poli Garcia, Los Angeles 48 39 33 72 Keith Furphy, Cleveland 48 39 31 70 Gordon Hill, Kansas City 41 46 24 70 Lou Nanchoff, Cleveland 42 36 33 69 Yilmaz Orhan, Memphis 47 49 20 69 Zeee Kapka, Pittsburgh 45 30 36 66 Dave MacWilliams, Baltimore 45 33 33 66 Tasso Koutsoukos, Kansas City 46 41 42 65 Paul Child, Pittsburgh 44 41 32 64 Charlie Cordas, Buffalo 45 36 28 64 Jorgen Kristensen, Wichita 39 17 45 62 Ian Sybis, Pittsburgh 42 35 27 62 Batata, Los Angeles 42 36 25 61 Kim Roentved, Wichita 46 27 33 60 LEADING GOALKEEPERS (Min. 1400 minutes to qualify) GP Min. Sho Svs GA W-L GAA Slobo Ilijevski, St. Louis 40 2336 1065 675 143 22-15 3.67 Scott Manning, Baltimore 28 1552 754 371 104 18-8 4.02 Joe Papaleo, Pittsburgh 25 1455 647 335 100 16-8 4.12 Mike Mahoney, Los Angeles 42 2390 1061 556 172 19-18 4.32 Mike Dowlar, Wichita 46 2724 1192 618 196 25-21 4.32 Kyle Sobieski, Cleveland 32 1716 984 464 125 19-7 4.37 John Baretta, Tacoma 30 1741 902 474 130 11-14 4.48 Biagoje Tamindzic, Phoenix 30 1486 884 475 116 9-14 4.68 Enzo DiPeda, Kansas City 39 2180 1127 546 174 18-18 4.79 Wieslaw Surlit, Buffalo 35 1736 965 453 155 10-20 5.36 Bill Mishalow, Memphis 28 1568 814 396 156 9-16 5.97 Sheep Messing, New York 31 1604 777 369 167 11-18 6.25 Most Valuable Player: Stan Stamenkovic, Baltimore Blast Coach of the Year: Kenny Cooper, Baltimore Blast MISL Scoring Champion: Stan Stamenkovic, Baltimore Blast MISL Pass Master (most Assists): Stan Stamenkovic, Baltimore Blast Defender of the Year: Kim Roentved, Wichita Wings Goalkeeper of the Year: Slobo Ilijevski, St. Louis Steamers Rookie of the Year: Kevin Maher, Pittsburgh Spirit Championship Series Player of the Year: Scott Manning, Baltimore Blast All-MISL team: G - Slobo Ilijevski, St. Louis Steamer D - Stan Stamenkovic, Baltimore Blast D - Andy Chapman, Wichita Wings M - Kai Haaskivi, Cleveland Force M - Sam Bick, St. Louis Steamer F - Kim Roentved, Wichita Wings
The 1984 Olympics were a seminal event in not only American soccer history, but also American sports history. The United States, eager to prove that it could put on a world class sporting event, put great effort into ensuring that the 1984 Olympics were the best ever, and despite the Soviet-led boycott, they pretty much reached their goal. The NASL saw the Olympics as a last chance to breathe life into itself, and although that did not come to pass, the Soccer competition, with the excellent games and unprecedented attendance (equal to all other events combined), awoke FIFA to the potential of soccer in the United States, and laid the groundwork for World Cup 1994. The US Soccer organizing committee was headed by Alan Rothenberg, who would later play a pivotal role in the formation of Major league Soccer in the early 1990's.
A major positive development was the decision of FIFA, reversing its earlier position, of allowing some professionals to compete in the games. Although this decision was too late to save the ill-fated Team America of 1983, it did allow the United States to field its full national team for the first time. The United States qualified automatically as the host nation, but it did tune up for the spectacle with a friendly against Italy on May 30 in New York City, a game in which the US surprised the Italians with a 0-0 draw.
The Olympic soccer competition got off to a bang in front of 78,265 spectators at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, CA, which at that time was the largest crowd ever to see a soccer game in the United States. The US won impressively against Costa Rica, shutting them out 3-0. the scoring began with a Ricky Davis free kick in the 24th minute, followed by a cross from Jean Willrich in the 36th and an excellent shot by Ricky Davis in the 87th, after he dribbled around the goalkeeper. Ironically, the referee for this game, Jean Quiniou of France, was the referee for the United States game against Brazil in the 1994 World Cup.
Unfortunately, this was the high point for the Americans. two days later, before 63,000 in the Rose Bowl, The United States was shut out 1-0 by favored Italy on July 31. With this loss, the USA had to win against Egypt in order to advance, but the best they could manage was a draw, and a weak one at that. The US was lucky to finish that well, given a sloppy and unfocused performance. This final game, before 54,000 at Palo Alto left the US finishing tied with Egypt, but Egypt advanced based on goal differential.
The US was out, and early, but something was happening on the field. People were catching the excitement like never before, and the crowds continued to grow for the non-US games. The quarterfinal games averaged over 60,000 per game. In the semifinals, Brazil beat Italy 2-1 in front of 83,642 at Palo Alto, and France beat Yugoslavia before 97,451 in Pasadena. These two semifinals featured two players who would captain their teams in the 1994 World Cup final: Dunga of Brazil and Franco Baresi of Italy. The Bronze Medal game, saw a third consecutive all-time attendance record set, as 100,374 at the Rose Bowl saw Yugoslavia beat Italy 2-1. Finally, the all-time (to this day) attendance record was set on August 11, again at Pasadena as 101,799 turned out to watch France beat Brazil 2-0 for the Gold, on goals by Francois Brisson and Daniel Zuareb.
Despite the enormous success on the field, the soccer competition received almost no air time on NBC's broadcast coverage. About five minutes of the championship match were squeezed in among the other events. Nevertheless, the games had sent a strong message to FIFA that there was indeed a vast audience for soccer in the United States given a world-class event. Thus, 1984 went down in history as the year with the events marking the end of one era (the NASL), and the beginning of another; the eventual awarding of the World Cup to the US, revival of the US National Team, and establishment of a new Division 1 soccer league in the country.
The National team had two priorities in 1984: Making a good showing at the Olympics and getting through the first round of qualifying for World Cup 1986. Even if the US wouldn't host, they'd make a good impression, or so it was hoped. The Olympics were a great success for US Soccer, even if the team didn't pass the qualifying round. Their first game was a convincing victory, showing the team's real potential. The team consisted entirely of NASL and MISL veterans, and the result was a vast improvement over previous Olympic qualifying performances.
The US spent much of their time leading up to the Olympics in full-time training, pausing only for an exhibition friendly against Italy, which they surprisingly drew 0-0. The Olympic performance (1 win, 1 loss, 1 draw) left them disappointed, but determined to try again. After their exit, it was back to the training fields, and then in September to the first round of World Cup qualifying. Still with a team of NASL and MISL veterans, the US drew 0-0 against the Netherlands Antilles and then trounced them 4-0 a week later. This was not a good start for the Americans, given their extensive training. Nevertheless, this was enough for them to advance to the semifinals of the CONCACAF qualifications, to be held in 1985.
For the remainder of the year, the US trained in a series of friendlies against Central and South American teams, winning against Colombia and El Salvador, losing a pair against Ecuador and Mexico and drawing twice against Ecuador. These results showed the promise, but also the inconsistency of the US. The Mexico loss was close, but Guatemala should not have been able to earn a 4-0 shutout. Still, these results compared favorably against previous US endeavors, and the key was whether the US could continue to score goals when qualifications resumed.
USA National team results (+ = not full internationals) 1984 Totals: 4W, 5D, 2L Dec 02 84 D 2-2 Ecuador 4,000 Miami, FL, USA Ladouceur, Sharp Nov 30 84 D 0-0 Ecuador New York, NY, USA Oct 17 84 L 1-2 Mexico 15,000 Mexico City, Mexico Van Der Beck Oct 14 84 L 0-4 Guatemala Guatemala City, Guatemala Oct 11 84 W 1-0 Colombia 26,000 Los Angeles, CA, USA Coker Oct 09 84 W 3-1 El Salvador 27,000 Los Angeles, CA, USA Davis, Ladoceur, Hooker Oct 06 84 W 4-0 Neth. Antilles 12,463 St. Louis, MO, USA (WCQ'86) Coker (2), Di Bernardo, Kapp Sep 29 84 D 0-0 Neth. Antilles Willemstad, Neth. Ant. (WCQ'86) Aug 02 84 D 1-1 Egypt 54,973 +Palo Alto, CA, USA (OLY'84) Og Jul 31 84 L 0-1 Italy 63,624 +Pasadena, CA, USA (OLY'84) Jul 29 84 W 3-0 Costa Rica 78,265 +Palo Alto, CA, USA (OLY'84) Davis (2), Willrich May 30 84 D 0-0 Italy 31,310 East Rutherford, NJ, USA =======================================================================
In the NCAA Division 1 tournament, third round action saw Indiana defeat St. Louis 4-2. Hartwick defeated Farleigh-Dickinson 1-0, Clemson defeated Virginia 1-0, and UCLA defeated Harvard 2-0. In the semifinals, Indiana defeated Hartwick 2-1 and Clemson defeated UCLA 4-1. The championship was held on December 16 in Seattle, WA, where Clemson defeated Indiana 2-1 to take the national crown.
In the NCAA Division 2 tournament, third round action saw Seattle Pacific defeat Davis & Elkins 2-1. Missouri-St. Louis defeated Cal State Northridge 2-1, New Haven defeated Tampa 1-0, and Florida International defeated Lock Haven 10-1. In the semifinals, Seattle Pacific defeated Missouri-St. Louis 2-1, and Florida International defeated New Haven 3-2. The championship was held on December 8 in Seattle, WA, where Florida International defeated Seattle pacific for the national title.
In the NCAA Division 3 tournament, third round action saw Rochester Inst. of tech. defeated UNC-Greensboro 4-1. Brandeis defeated Westfield State 4-2, Kean defeated Claremont (MS) 2-1, and Wheaton (IL) defeated Washington (MO) 2-1. In the semifinals, Brandeis defeated Rochester Inst. of tech. 1-0 and Wheaton (IL) defeated Kean 3-0. The championship was held on December 1 in Wheaton, IL, where Wheaton (IL) defeated Brandeis 2-1 in triple overtime to take the national title.
In the NCAA Women's tournament, second round action saw Connecticut defeat Brown 1-0. Massachusetts defeated Harvard 1-0, California defeated Colorado College 1-0 and North Carolina defeated Central Florida 4-1. In the semifinals, Connecticut defeated Massachusetts 2-1 in overtime, and North Carolina defeated California 1-0 in overtime. The national championship was held on November 18 in Chapel Hill, NC, where North Carolina defeated Connecticut 2-0 for the national crown.
NAIA Championship: (Men) West Virginia Weslayen defeated Fresno Pacific 3-2 (3 overtimes).
NAIA Championship: (Women)St. Mary's defeated Cardinal Newman 4-0.
NJCAA Men's Championship: Florissant Valley Community College 3, Essex Comm. Coll. 1
NJCAA Women's Championship: Nassau Community College 2, Schoolcraft College 0
NCCAA Division 1 Championship: John Brown 2, Tennessee Temple 1
NCCAA Division 2 Championship: Philadelphia College of Bible 2, Moody Bible Institute 0
Coaches' Final Division 1 Poll - Men: 1. Alabama A&M 2. Indiana 3. Farleigh-Dickinson 4. Virginia 5. UCLA 6. Columbia 7. Akron 8. Southern Methodist 9. Clemson 10. Hartwick Coaches' Final Division 1 Poll - Women: 1. North Carolina 2. Brown 3. George Mason 4. Massachusetts 5. Harvard 6. Connecticut 7. Central Florida 8. California 9. Colorado College 10. Vermont College All-Americans - Men: G - Jeffrey Dubak, Yale D - Albert Adabe, Eastern Illinois D - Adubarie Otorobio, Clemson D - Shaun Pendleton, Akron M - Anthony Bono, Detroit M - Dale Ervine, UCLA M - Aidan McClusky, Farleigh-Dickinson F - John Gaffney, Virginia F - Thomas Kain, Duke F - Michael King, Farleigh-Dickinson F - Sam Okpodu, North Carolina State College All-Americans - Women: G - Monica Hall, UC Santa Barbara D - Suzy Cobb, North Carolina D - Leslie Gallimore, California D - Liza Grant, Colorado College D - Lori Stukes, Massachusetts D - Harriet Tatro, Vermont F - Michelle Akers, Central Florida F - Lori Bessmer, Cortland State F - April Heinrichs, North Carolina F - Donna MacDougal, Connecticut F - Catherine Shankweller, Connecticut
Hermann Trophy: Amr Aly, Columbia
NSCAA Division 1 Coach of the Year: James Lennox, Hartwick
ISAA Player of the Year: Amr Aly, Columbia
ISAA Goalkeeper of the Year: Jim Leahy, Brandeis
1984 US Open Cup Final: On June 24, New York A. O. Krete defeated Chicago Croatian 4-2.
1984 National Amateur Cup Final: On June 24, Dallas Mean Green defeated Detroit Ukrainian SC 5-0.
James P. McGuire Cup (U-19 Men): Scott Gallagher, St. Louis
Athena Cup (U-19 Women): Braddock Road Blue Bells, Fairfax, VA
CONCACAF Champions Cup: The USL's Jacksonville Tea Men and the New York Pancyprian Freedoms took part. Jacksonville was eliminated in pool play. New York won, but they and Guadalajara withdrew, leaving Violette the winner by default.
CONCACAF U-20 Championship: The United States finished 4th. Mexico took first and Canada took second.
National Soccer Hall of Fame: In 1984, Ernie Feibusch, Ray Kraft, and Giuseppe Lombardo were inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. Norman Lord was inducted into the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association Hall of Fame.
USSF Player of the Year: Ricky Davis
Last update: January 31, 2010
Back to American Soccer History Archives main page