National Professional Soccer League (1967)
North American Soccer League (1968)
Born: 1966 – NPSL founding franchise
Folded: February 18, 1969
Stadium: Yankee Stadium (67,000)
Team Colors: Hunter Green & Gold
This early pro soccer entry in New York City began life in the aftermath of the 1966 World Cup, the first to be televised in the United States. The Cup sparked a low boil gold rush to establish a proper national soccer league in the United States in 1967, with three groups competing for the honor. Two rival leagues emerged from the negotiations. The National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) got the all-important television contract with CBS. The United Soccer Association (USA) received the all-important sanctioning from FIFA, which branded the NPSL as an outlaw league and threatened sanctions against players who signed with the league.
The New York Generals were originally owned jointly by broadcaster RKO General, the owner of New York’s WOR-TV Channel 9, and Wall Street investment banker Peter Elser. The Generals played their home matches at Yankee Stadium – as did the New York Skyliners, the local entry from the rival United Soccer Association, owned by Madison Square Garden Corporation.
The Generals debuted at Yankee Stadium on April 22, 1967 against the Chicago Spurs. A crowd of 7,766 saw the Generals triumph 2-1 thanks to goals by Luis Menotti (Argentina) and Adilson Silveira (Brazil), a pair of South Americans who joined the club just one day earlier. For the 1967 season, the Generals finished in third place in their division at 11-13-8.
The Generals’ matches were poorly attended. The club’s fifth home game against the California Clippers on May 27, 1967 attracted just 3,027 to Yankee Stadium on a Saturday afternoon. Attendance was poor throughout the league and in the rival United Soccer Association as well. In December 1967, the NPSL and the USA merged to form the North American Soccer League. The original merger plan called for the Generals and the Skyliners to merge and form a single New York franchise for the 1968 season. This hit a snag when RKO General decided to pull its support in January 1968. Instead, Peter Elser decided to recruit new partners and continue the Generals on his own. The Skyliners folded.
The highlight of the 1968 season was a July 12th visit from Santos F.C. of Brazil and their superstar striker Pele. The exhibition drew 15,645 to Yankee Stadium, with the Generals winning 5-3. For the season, the Generals posted a winning record of 12-8-12 but again failed to qualify for postseason play.
The pro soccer bubble burst in the winter of 1968, as CBS terminated its TV contract and the NASL membership dropped from 17 clubs to just 5. The Generals pulled the plug in February 1969, citing new league chief Phil Woosnam’s plan to import touring foreign teams to represent league cities in 1969 (a model used by the United Soccer Association in 1967) rather than allow each club to assemble its own roster.
Pro soccer returned to New York City two years later with the formation of the NASL’s New York Cosmos in 1971, a club that would captivate New York and northern New Jersey during the late 1970’s.
Notable players who wore the Generals green & gold included Menotti, who later coached Argentina to victory in the 1978 World Cup, and long-time Ajax star Co Prins.
==New York Generals Programs on Fun While It Lasted==
- Cesar Luis Menotti
- Co Prins
National Professional Soccer League Programs
North American Soccer League Media Guides
North American Soccer League Programs