Born: 1999 – The Worcester Wildfire relocate to Framingham, MA.
Died: Postseason 2001 – The Bulldogs cease operations.
Stadium: Bowditch Field
The Boston Bulldogs were a 2nd Division professional soccer team that briefly served as a minor league farm club for the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer. The Bulldogs played at Bowditch Field on the campus of Framingham State University in the Boston suburbs. Prior to arriving in Framingham in 1999, the franchise was located in Worcester, Massachusetts and known as the Worcester Wildfire from 1996 to 1998.
The Bulldogs labored in obscurity in Boston. Bowditch Field was a no-frills concrete bowl with no alcohol sales and Port-A-Potties for bathrooms. There was little reason for area soccer fans to spend $10.00 to see the Bulldogs when they could watch the Revolution play at Foxboro Stadium for virtually the same price. In 2000, the Bulldogs averaged 662 fans per match, which was 24th out of the 25 clubs in the USL A-League. The Bulldogs’ total attendance for 14 matches in 2000 (9,269) was less than the per game average of their division rivals, the Rochester Raging Rhinos.
Despite the lack of interest, team owners Tom Bagley and Reidar Tryggestad had big ambitions for the club and ran the team in first class fashion. The team travelled to Norway for pre-season training and exhibitions in 2000 and there were even (fruitless) negotiations with Brandeis University to partner on development of a modestly scaled soccer specific stadium. But after heavy financial losses in two seasons of 2nd Division soccer in the USL A-League, it was clear there was no appetite for the team in the Boston suburbs. The Bulldogs dropped into the 3rd Division USL D3 Pro League for one final campaign in 2001 and then folded.
The Bulldogs attracted a handful of top flight players during their brief existence. John Kerr, Jr., the 1986 Hermann Trophy winner as American’s best collegian player and a former U.S. National Team member, served as player-coach in 1999.
Liverpool legend and former Scottish World Cup team member Steve Nicol arrived as a player in 1999 and took over player/coach duties in 2000-2001. Nicol would use the team’s relationship with the New England Revolution to catapult into that club’s head coaching job in 2002. Nichol would go on to coach the Revs for 10 seasons from 2002 to 2011, setting an Major League Soccer for coaching longevity with one club.
Trinidadian defender Avery John was the Bulldogs’ best all-around player and went onto play 81 games in MLS for the Revolution and D.C. United between 2004 and 2009.
The owners of the Bulldogs also operated two other teams under the corporate umbrella, the Boston Renegades and the Cape Cod Crusaders. The Crusaders were a men’s third division team, one step below the Bulldogs. Players flowed freely back and forth between the Bulldogs and the Crusaders. The Renegades competed in the USL W-League and were one of the best women’s amateur clubs in the United States in the late 1990’s and were actually the best box office attraction of the three teams. The Renegades shared Bowditch Field with the Bulldogs and sometimes drew over 2,000 fans for their matches in their early years. However, the amateur Renegades were made instantly irrelevant by the 2001 formation of the big-budget, fully professional Women’s United Soccer Association and the arrival of the Boston Breakers franchise. The Renegades puttered along until 2009, but never again drew crowds of more than a few hundred soccer campers and their parents.
Although the pro teams were a flop, the teams develop a profitable and well-regarded camp and academy program. Massachusetts Professional Soccer (MPS), the corporate entity that operated the Bulldogs, Renegades and Cape Cod Crusaders, still exists today and is owned by former Bulldogs player Joe Bradley and his brother Peter Bradley, the former coach of the Renegades women’s team. MPS hasn’t operated professional teams for years and the acronym now stands for “Massachusetts Premier Soccer”. Today MPS is one of the largest private soccer club & academy programs on the East Coast.
==Bulldogs Matches on Fun While It Lasted==
|2000||5/21/2000||vs. Rochester Raging Rhinos||??||Program|
- Avery John
- John Kerr, Jr. (Player-Coach)
- Steve Nicol