Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Soccer’ Category

January 24, 1987 – Los Angeles Strikers vs. Minnesota Strikers

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David Brcic Los Angeles LazersLos Angeles Lazers vs. Minnesota Strikers
January 24, 1987
The Forum
Attendance: 6,454

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs
32 pages

 

Two of the lesser lights from the old Major Indoor Soccer League met at The Forum in L.A. on this winter night in January 1987 when the Los Angeles Lazers hosted the Minnesota Strikers.  Both clubs were bankrolled by illustrious Major League team owners, with Dr. Jerry Buss (L.A. Lakers & Kings) backing the Lazers and Joe Robbie (Miami Dolphins) propping up the Strikers.

Whatever combination of business acumen or good fortune that led Buss and Robbie to collect NBA world championship and Super Bowl trophies, it never carried over to either man’s investments in pro soccer.  Buss’ Lazers routinely had the worst attendance in the MISL, but the real estate investor seemed content to fund the Lazers (and other minor arena sports at the Forum) as a sort of sports management academy for his children.  Robbie’s Strikers enjoyed some popularity as an outdoor soccer team in Fort Lauderdale in the late 1970′s, but the luster wore off when he moved the team to Minnesota and switched to the indoor game in 1984.  Robbie was bleeding millions in Minneapolis and was less able to stick things out in the MISL than Buss – Robbie’s resources were stretched by the need to privately finance the construction of Joe Robbie Stadium for the Dolphins in Miami.

Alan Willey Minnesota StrikersIn the first weeks of 1987, the Lazers were en route to their third last place finish in five years of existence.  Strangely, the team had never changed coaches, sticking with original hire Peter Wall even after a lifeless 13-35 campaign in 1985-86.  This match against Minnesota would turn out to be the night that finally cost Wall his job.  The Lazers had lost 13 of 16, including a humiliating shutout (the first in club history) the night before in Dallas.

Minnesota’s English sniper Alan Willey notched a hat trick in the first half as the Strikers leapt out to an early lead.  Chris Dangerfield, Hector Marinaro and Mike Jeffries piled on the second half and Minnesota won the game 6-4.  The Lazers dropped to 6-14 on the season and the Buss family finally relieved Wall a few days later.

Wall’s replacement, a recently retired player named Keith Tozer, would go on to become the all-time winningest coach in indoor soccer history.  But that winning wouldn’t benefit the Lazers much – the team never won another playoff game before folding in June of 1989.  The Strikers, meanwhile, went on to play in the MISL championship series in the spring of 1987 (their only good indoor season turned out to be a great one), but nearly folded anyway because of financial problems.  They ended up hanging on for one more season thanks to a “Save Our Strikers” season ticket campaign, but folded for good in June of 1988.

 

==Links==

Los Angeles Lazers Home Page

Minnesota Strikers Home Page

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Written by andycrossley

September 15th, 2014 at 3:14 am

1996-2004 Dallas Burn

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Dallas BurnMajor League Soccer (1996-2004)

Born: June 6, 1995 – MLS founding franchise.
Died:
August 2004 – Re-branded as FC Dallas.

Stadiums:

Team Colors: Red, Black & Green

Investor/Operator:

  • 1996-2002: Major League Soccer
  • 2003-2004: Hunt Sports Group (Lamar Hunt)

 

Not truly a defunct franchise, but rather an abandoned brand identity from the early years of Major League Soccer.  The Dallas Burn were one of 10 founding franchises for MLS in 1996.  The club plays on today as “FC Dallas” following a 2004 brand re-boot that preceded the opening of the team’s soccer-specific stadium, Pizza Hut Park, in 2005.

Dallas’ greatest accomplished during the Burn era (1996-2004) was to capture the U.S. Open Cup in 1997.  The Burn defeated defending Open Cups champs D.C. United on penalty kicks on October 29, 1997 at Carroll Stadium in Indianapolis.  In MLS play, the Burn qualified for the playoffs in each of their first seven seasons, but were knocked out in the opening round five times.  The Burn’s deepest playoff runs came in 1997 and 1999 under Head Coach Dave Dir, when they reached the MLS Cup semi-finals.

Off the field, the Burn were considered a weak point for MLS as the young league’s financial losses accumulated in the late 1990′s and early 2000′s.  At the end of MLS’ sixth season in 2001, the Burn were one of two franchises still owned directly by the league, along with the Tampa Bay Mutiny.  According to the Sports Business Journal, the Burn lost about $3M per year at this time and Dallas’ continued survival in the league depended on the willingness of other MLS team owners (still facing the substantial deficits of their own clubs) to continue underwriting the red ink.

When word got out that MLS was looking at contracting the 12-team league in late 2001, fans and media speculated that the Burn were a likely vicitim.  When the axe came down in January 2002, however, MLS chose to drop its two Florida franchises instead.

The franchise’s salvation and bottoming out happened more or less simultaneously in 2003.  After seven years as a ward of the league, Hunt Sports Group stepped to operate the team.  HSG, which already owned MLS’ Columbus Crew and Kansas City Wizards clubs, was headed by longtime soccer patron Lamar Hunt.  Hunt previously owned (and lost many millions on) the Dallas Tornado of the North American Soccer League from 1967 until 1981.  While the Hunts’ arrival gave the Burn a stable future, one of their first moves was to pull the team out of the Cotton Bowl and play the 2003 season at Dragon Stadium, a suburban high school stadium with artificial turf and no beer sales.  The move, intended to be temporary while the Burn worked on plans for a proper soccer stadium in Frisco, Texas, did not play well with fans generally and, specifically, helped to crater the club’s Hispanic fan base.

After one season at Dragon Stadium, and with the 2005 opening of Pizza Hut Park in Frisco on the horizon, the Burn pulled an about face and moved back to the Cotton Bowl for one final campaign in 2004.  Two-thirds of the way through the 2004 season, Hunt Sports Group announced the re-branding of the club as “FC Dallas” to coincide with the opening of Pizza Hut Park the following spring.

 

==Dallas Burn Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other
2002 5/4/2002 @ MetroStars W 2-1 Program Game Notes
2004 6/5/2004 @ MetroStars W 2-0 Program Game Guide
2004 8/15/2004 @ MetroStars W 1-0 Program Game Notes

 

==Key Players==

  • Leonel Alvarez
  • Jason Kreis
  • Oscar Pareja
  • Hugo Sanchez

 

==In Memoriam==

Long-time Burn/FC Dallas midfielder and broadcaster Bobby Rhine died of a heart attach on September 5, 2011 at age 35.

 

==YouTube==

Highlights of the Burn’s 1997 U.S. Open Cup final victory over D.C. United. October 29, 1997.

 

Burn at Los Angeles Galaxy, June 4th, 1998.  Dallas 8-1 loss remains the record holder for most lopsided defeat in MLS history:

 

==Links==

Major League Soccer Media Guides

Major League Soccer Programs

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Written by andycrossley

September 14th, 2014 at 2:25 pm

October 11, 1981 – Nottingham Forest vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

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Nottingham Forest Vancouver WhitecapsNottingham Forest vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
October 11, 1981
City Ground
Attendance: 8,800

North American Soccer League Programs
20 pages

 

Love this Nottingham Forest program for an October 1981 friendly match against the Vancouver Whitecaps of the North American Soccer League.  That’s Forest defender Viv Anderson on the cover, who was the first black player to play for England’s national team, starting in 1978.

At the dawn of the 80′s, Forest was a European power under the direction of Brian Clough.  They were also a popular and frequent challenger of NASL teams for friendly matches on both sides of the Atlantic.  A July 1980 exhibition between these same two clubs at Vancouver’s Empire Stadium attracted 28,710 fans and resulted in a 1-1 draw.

This match at Nottingham’s City Ground fourteen months later resulted in another draw, this time 2-2.  Peter Lorimer scored both goals for the ‘Caps on penalty kicks.  John Hodge and Mark Proctor tallied for Forest.  This game was the 3rd stop on the Whitecaps’ 1981 postseason tour of Europe, which also saw the Canadians defeat Malmo of Sweden and lose to Ajax of Holland and Avellino and Napoli of Italy.

Weirdly, Nottingham Forest issued programs with two different covers for this match.  The more common one (ebay.co.uk usually has a few available on any given day) is pictured below.  Not sure who the Forest player is on the cover?  Maybe Mark Proctor?  Leave a comment if you know.

Nottingham Forest Vancouver Whitecaps

==Downloads==

October 11, 1981 Nottingham Forest vs. Vancouver Whitecaps Team Sheet

 

==Links==

More NASL International Friendlies

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Written by andycrossley

September 9th, 2014 at 3:11 am

1993-2001 Sacramento Knights

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Sacramento KnightsContinental Indoor Soccer League (1993-1997)
Premier Soccer Alliance (1998)
World Indoor Soccer League (1999-2001)

Born: 1992 – CISL founding franchise.
Died: 2001 – The Knights cease operations

Arena: ARCO Arena (10,630)

Team Colors: Black, Silver, Orange & Blue

Owners:

 

The Sacramento Knights were an indoor soccer team that played for nearly a decade under the management of successive ownership groups of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings franchise.  The basic details of this club are mostly indistinguishable from hundreds of other defunct teams here on FWIL – team forms, muddles along in obscurity for several years and then is quietly euthanized.  So before running through those mundane details, I’ll just tell you the strangest thing in the Knights file:

Ex-Knights General Manager Hubert Rotteveel, once a member of UCLA’s 1985 national champion soccer team, became a bank robber after the demise of the Knights.  And not a great one.  On June 30, 2010, a bike helmet and spandex-clad Rotteveel robbed two Sacramento area banks with a BB gun.  He was caught cycling away from the second bank when the dye pack in his loot exploded in front of a patrol car.  Rotteveel, by most accounts a well-liked and respected executive during his soccer years, is eligible for release in 2014, but still faces additional fraud charges related his former real estate business.

Sacramento KnightsANYWAY … What happened to the Knights?  Original owner Jim Thomas purchased the club as a founding member of the Continental Indoor Soccer League in September 1992, a few months after he acquired control of the Kings.  The CISL, which existed from 1993 until 1997, initially attracted a number of NBA ownership groups besides Thomas and the Kings, but enthusiasm for the league and the sport of indoor soccer declined in the mid-1990′s.  NBA owners began to look to the new WNBA to fill summer dates in their arenas instead.  In addition to the Knights, the Sacramento Kings ownership also operated the WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs during the summer months. Coincidentally or not, the debut season of the WNBA in 1997 also proved to be the final year for the CISL, which folded in December 1997.

The Knights did play on, however, joining several other CISL refuges in pair of lower-profile successor leagues starting in 1998.

When Thomas sold controlling interest in the Kings to Maloof Sports & Entertainment in 1999, the Knights were thrown in with the deal.  The Maloofs operated the Knights for three more seasons through 2001 before folding the team.

The Knights won the championship of the World Indoor Soccer League (WISL) in 1999.  They also appeared in the championship series – but lost – for the CISL in 1995 and the Premier Soccer Alliance in 1998.

 

==In Memoriam==

Former Knights Head Coach Keith Weller (1994-1997) died of cancer on November 12, 2004 at age 58.

 

==Links==

Continental Indoor Soccer League Media Guides

Continental Indoor Soccer League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

September 7th, 2014 at 2:21 am

1993-1997 Arizona Sandsharks

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1994 Arizona SandsharksContinental Indoor Soccer League (1993-1995, 1997)

Born: August 3, 1992 – CISL founding franchise.
Died: December 23, 1997 – The CISL ceases operations.

Arena: America West Arena (15,505)

Team Colors: Red, Silver & Black

Owners:

 

The Arizona Sandsharks were an indoor soccer team that played four summertime seasons in the now-defunct Continental Indoor Soccer League during the mid-1990′s.

The ‘Sharks were originally formed by Phoenix sports mogul Jerry Colangelo in August 1992, to begin play with the CISL’s debut the following summer.  Colangelo owned the NBA’s Phoenix Suns in 1992 and would soon win the expansion rights to the Arizona Diamondbacks of Major League Baseball.  He was also one of the key backers of the 15,000-seat America West Arena that opened in Phoenix in 1992.  With the arrival of the Arena, Colangelo assembled a stable of second-tier sports franchises to fill the dates in the building, launching the Sandsharks, the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League, and the Phoenix Smash of World Team Tennis within a 12-month period in 1992 and 1993.

The Sandsharks signed a number of indoor veterans.  While not household names to the casual sports fan or soccer mom, players like Wes Wade, Franklin McIntosh and Terry Woodberry were well-known to indoor diehards in the late 1980′s and early 1990′s.  The Sandsharks also signed local product Mark Kerlin, who had played for the city’s previous indoor soccer teams the Phoenix Inferno and Phoenix Pride of the Major Indoor Soccer League back in the early 1980′s.

The Sandsharks never put together a strong side in the CISL.  In four years of operation, the team never  made the playoffs an finished in last place three times.  In 1995, Colangelo hired Ron Newman, the architect of the San Diego Sockers indoor dynasty of the 1980′s, to coach the team.  But Newman only got in one season of rebuilding work before Colangelo decided to dump the team.  New owners Kerri Dunne and Brian Weymouth stepped forward to keep the Sandsharks afloat, but the deal came together so late in the offseason, that the club sat out the 1996 campaign.   When the Sandsharks returned in 1997 (without Newman), they returned to their former ways and finished in last place with an 8-20 record.

The CISL folded amidst investor squabbling after the 1997 season.  Several ex-CISL franchises re-organized in 1998 as the Premier Soccer Alliance.  The Sandsharks were not among them, but a Phoenix-based entry called the Arizona Thunder joined the new league and played three more losing campaigns before folding in 2000.

 

==Key Players==

  • Ron Newman (Head Coach)

 

==Links==

Continental Indoor Soccer League Media Guides

Continental Indoor Soccer League Programs

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