Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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December 3, 1985 – Wichita Wings vs. St. Louis Steamers

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Wichita Wings vs. St. Louis Steamers. December 3, 1985Wichita Wings vs. St. Louis Steamers
December 3, 1985
Kansas Coliseum
Attendance: ?

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs


The early/mid 1980′s clashes between the Wichita Wings and the St. Louis Steamers made for one of the best rivalries during the golden era of indoor soccer.  Both teams were popular and drew large crowds at the time, which fueled the competition.

I chose to post this game because 1.) someone posted a great-looking 46-minute edit of the St. Louis local broadcast on YouTube and 2.) we had the game program here in the archives, courtesy of Wings historian and occasional FWiL contributor Michael Romalis.  That’s the late Slobo Ilijevski of the Steamers on the cover (above right), one of the all-time greats of the indoor game.

Oh yeah – this game also featured one of the greatest goals in MISL history.  A ludicrous, ill-conceived length-of-the-floor sprint by Wichita goalkeeper Jan Olesen.  The seldom-used Dane, who would play only 16 games in the Major Indoor Soccer League, beat three St. Louis defenders and nutmegged Slobo to open the scoring in the 2nd quarter and send the Kansas Coliseum crowd into a frenzy.   There’s a separate highlight clip of Olesen’s rampage in the video section below.

The Wings held on for a 4-3 victory.



Jan Olesen’s end-to-end golazo…


St. Louis Steamers local broadcast.  46-minute edit:



Written by andycrossley

July 5th, 2014 at 5:19 pm

1978-1980 Philadelphia Fury

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Philadelphia FuryNorth American Soccer League (1978-1980)

Born: 1978 – NASL expansion franchise.
Died: October 1980 – The Fury relocate to Montreal, Quebec.

Stadium: Veterans Stadium (56,000)

Team Colors: Burgundy, Gold & White

Owners: Frank Barsalona, Elliot Hoffman, Larry Levine, Peter Rudge, et al.


The Philadelphia Fury marked the second go round for the North American Soccer League in the City of Brotherly Love.  The Fury followed on the heels of the Philadelphia Atoms (1973-1976), who won the league championship as an expansion team in 1973 and became the first NASL team featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  The Fury brought back couple of popular players from the Atoms era, including goalkeeper Bob Rigby and defender Bobby Smith.

The Fury weren’t able to replicate the on-field success of the Atoms or anything close to it.  In their debut season of 1978, the club was managed by player-coach Alan Ball.  Thanks to the NASL’s forgiving playoff system, the Fury squeaked into the postseason despite a 12-18 last place record.  They were quickly dispatched by fellow expansioneers the Detroit Express in the opening round.

Philadelphia FuryIn 1979 the Fury were worse, dropping to 10-20 in the regular season.  Once again this was good enough for the playoffs though and, in the franchise’s finest hour, the Fury shocked the Houston Hurricane (22-8) in the first round.  The Philadelphians were eliminated by eventual Soccer Bowl ’79 finalists Tampa Bay Rowdies in the quarterfinals.  Scottish forward David Robb finished 5th in the NASL in scoring in 1979 with 16 goals and 20 assists, but he would not return to the club in 1980.

In 1980 the Fury hired Eddie Firmani to manage the club.  Firmani was one of the NASL’s most successful coaches, having won three of the previous five Soccer Bowls as manager at Tampa Bay and New York Cosmos.  But the club regressed again, finishing with a franchise worst 10-22 record and missing the playoffs for the first time.  Worse yet, the Fury had the worst home attendance in the 24-team NASL for the second season in a row, pulling fewer than 5,000 per match at Veterans Stadium.

In October 1980 the club was sold off to Molson Breweries and moved to Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.  The former Fury franchise played three more seasons as the Montreal Manic before going out of business in November 1983.

With their mediocre performance on-field, the Fury were best known for their sprawling 15-man ownership group.  The syndicate was made up largely of rock music impresarios including Rolling Stones manager Peter Rudge, concert promoter Frank Barsalona and stars Paul Simon and Peter Frampton.


==Philadelphia Fury Matches on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1979 6/16/1979  @ Chicago Sting L 3-1 Program
1979 8/25/1979 @ Tampa Bay Rowdies L 1-0 Video
1980 7/16/1980 vs. New York Cosmos W 2-1 Program
1980 7/30/1980 @ California Surf L 3-1 Program



Grim times for the Fury in 1980 in a near-empty Veterans Stadium:


The Fury on the road at Tampa Bay in the 1979 NASL quarterfinals. August 25, 1979



North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs


July 15, 1979 – New York Cosmos vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

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Gerd Muller Fort Lauderdale StrikersNew York Cosmos vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
July 15, 1979
Giants Stadium
Attendance: 48,753

North American Soccer League Programs
112 pages


This was a wild one at the Meadowlands in the summer of ’79.  The 48,753 soccer fans witnessed one of the most violent, out of control matches in the history of the North American Soccer League.  The occasion was a meeting between two of the league’s elite – the New York Cosmos (16-5) and the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps (13-8).  The previous season the two clubs finished the regular season with identical 24-6 records, tying each other for the best record in the history of the league.  The Cosmos won the Soccer Bowl championship in 1978, but it was the Whitecaps who had the best of the club’s head-to-head series, winning four of five contests dating back to Vancouver’s formation in 1974

The Cosmos seemed to come into the match in a nasty temperament.  Just a week earlier, the club made headlines for fighting with their own custodial workers during a practice session at Giants Stadium.  The match got physical from the get go, and the Whitecaps were willing adversaries.  Referee Keith Styles blew 48 fouls in the match, including 29 on the Whitecaps.   But at the first intermission, the only scoring action was an own goal by New York’s Carlos Alberto six minutes in, which gave the Whitecaps a 1-0 lead.

The scoring broke open early in the second half.  Vancouver’s Kevin Hector beat Cosmos goalkeeper Erol Yasin in the 48th minute.  New York halved the deficit in the 60th minute on a free kick that saw Franz Beckenbauer set up Dutch international Johan Neeskens.  But the Whitecaps extended their lead to 3-1 less than three minutes later on a goal from English midfielder Ray Lewington.  In the 70th minute Giorgio Chinaglia scored his 23rd goal of the season on a tap in from Dennis Tueart to make it 3-2.

The lid came off the match just over a minute later, when Vancouver’s Willie Johnston collided with New York’s Andranik Eskandarian in the Cosmos’ box.  The two ended up trading punches on the artificial turf.  Chinaglia rushed into fray and was clocked in the eye by the Whitecaps’ John Craven who had entered the match as a sub just a minute earlier.  Both benches poured onto the field.  The brawl appeared to catch Giants Stadium security off guard and continued for fourteen minutes, spilling from one end of the field to the other.  Retired Cosmos legend Pele, of all people, charged the field looking to get a piece of Vancouver keeper Phil Parkes.  A fan vaulted from the grandstand to go after referee Keith Styles.  When order was finally restored, Vancouver’s Craven and Johnston were ejected, along with Chinaglia and Eskandarian for the Cosmos.  The club’s finished the final 18 minutes of the match in a rare 9-on-9 format.  The ‘Caps added an insurance goal for a final score of 4-2 – the Cosmos worst home defeat since moving to Giants Stadium in 1977.

Afterwards, Cosmos officials were apoplectic.  Warner Communications exec Jay Emmett charged the official’s locker after the match.  Executive Vice President Rafael de la Sierra painted conspiraced theories.  The bad feelings would continue two months later when the Cosmos and the ‘Caps met in the NASL’s semi-final playoff series to determine a berth in Soccer Bowl ’79.  In the first game of the series, Eskandarian got a red card with eight seconds remaining in the match and Carlos Alberto was banned for the remained of the season by NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam for spitting at an official.  The Cosmos threatened a lawsuit, while the ‘Caps focused on soccer and beat the Cosmos in a thrilling three-game set.

On September 8, 1979, the Whitecaps returned to Giants Stadium and defeated the Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-1 in Soccer Bowl ’79 to win their first and only NASL crown.  The Cosmos, who once again had the league’s best regular season mark of 24-6, watched from home.



July 15, 1979 New York Cosmos Game Notes


Written by andycrossley

June 27th, 2014 at 1:34 pm

1992-2001 Buffalo Blizzard

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Buffalo BlizzardNational Professional Soccer League (1992-2001)

Born: 1992 – NPSL expansion franchise.
Died: August 15, 2001 – The Blizzard cease operations.


Team Colors:



The Buffalo Blizzard were a long-running indoor soccer franchise that enjoyed a degree of popularity in Western New York during the early 1990′s.  The team started in 1992 with a strong managerial pedigree.  The original owners included brothers Seymour & Northrup Knox, then owners of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, as well as Bob and Melinda Rich, the owners of the city’s wildly popular minor league baseball club, the Buffalo Bisons.

The Knox/Rich soccer group became the subject of a heated competition between America’s two indoor leagues, the Major Indoor Soccer League and the National Professional Soccer League.  The MISL was older, played in bigger cities and had better talent.  Buffalo also had a previous history with the MISL – the city’s previous indoor club, the Buffalo Stallions, played in the league from 1979 to 1983.  But by the early 1990′s the MISL was frail, shrinking and wracked by labor unrest.  The upstart NPSL, formed in 1984, was expanding into a nationwide air travel league after spending much of the 1980′s as a Midwestern bus circuit.  The Blizzard ultimately chose to join the NPSL, a decision that hastened the demise of the 14-year old MISL in July of 1992.

Buffalo BlizzardThe Blizzard’s finest season came during the expansion year of 1992-93.  The team posted an all-time best mark of 23-17 under Head Coach Trevor Dawkins, but lost in the quarterfinals of the NPSL playoffs to the Cleveland Crunch.  Just about every Blizzard season to follow more or less followed the same plot.   The team had only two losing seasons in nine years, but never won a playoff series.  The Crunch eliminated them in the first round four consecutive years from 1993 to 1996.

Key players for the Blizz included local brothers Randy Pikuzinski and Rudy Pikuzinski.  Randy was the only Blizzard player to play all nine seasons for the club.  Rudy played eight years, missing only the club’s final season in the winter of 2000-01.   U.S. National Team goalkeeper and captain Tony Meola, one of the best known soccer players in the country at the time, appeared in a dozen games for the Blizzard during the 1994-95 season.  But Meola would leave the team before the playoffs after getting cast in an off-Broadway play.

The Blizzard played at The Aud for their first four seasons until that building closed in 1996.  Then they moved into the brand new Marine Midland Arena in 1996.  The move into the new arena coincided with a sale of the team in August 1996.  Team President John Bellanti, a long-time local soccer booster who also served as a top exec for the MISL’s Stallions in the early 80′s, purchased the club from the Knox family.

Bellanti kept the Stallions going for another five seasons.  But interest in the team waned as the population of Buffalo shrank and the sport of indoor soccer ceded ground to a resurgence of the outdoor game nationwide.  The city’s crowded sports landscape was another challenge, as the Blizzard faced competition from both the Sabres and the Buffalo Bandits box lacrosse team for ticket sales and sponsorships.

The National Professional Soccer League re-organized and re-branded itself in the summer of 2001, adopting the now-nostalgic “Major Indoor Soccer League” name.  During this time, Bellanti acknowledged that the team had lost money for nine straight years and decided to fold the club in August 2001.


==Buffalo Blizzard Matches on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1992-93 1/22/1993 @ Cleveland Crunch Program
1993-94 3/26/1994 vs. Detroit Rockers ?? Program


==In Memoriam==

Blizzard co-founder Seymour Knox passed away after a bout with cancer on May 22, 1996 at age 70.

Carlos Salguero, a former Buffalo Stallions player who served as Head Coach of the Blizzard during the 1997-98 season, died on cancer in December 2006 at the age of 51.

Paul Kitson, the Blizzard’s final Head Coach from 1999-2001, died of a heart attack on August 25, 2005 at age 49.



National Professional Soccer League Media Guides

National Professional Soccer League Programs


May 5, 1974 – Los Angeles Aztecs vs. Seattle Sounders

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Seattle Sounders 1974Los Angeles Aztecs vs. Seattle Sounders
May 5, 1974
East Los Angeles College Stadium
Attendance: 4,107

North American Soccer League Programs
36 pages


This was a fantastic find on e-Bay last week … a rare and colorful program from the very first soccer match of the famed Seattle Sounders franchise, played on the road at East Los Angeles College Stadium back on May 5th, 1974.  Of course, it was also the regular season debut for their opponents and fellow North American Soccer League expansionists the Los Angeles Aztecs.  But the Aztecs are largely forgotten today (despite boasting George Best and Johan Cruyff on their roster during the 1970′s) whereas the Sounders brand name, revived by Major League Soccer in 2009, marks the gold standard of American club soccer today.

Aztecs owner Jack Gregory hoped to attract Mexican fans to his new club.  He printed portions of the match program in Spanish and chose a stadium in East L.A.  So he was none too pleased when the NASL scheduled him to open the Aztecs’ home schedule on Cinco De Mayo.  Only 4,107 fans showed up.  Gregory needn’t have taken it personally though.  The Aztecs would plod along for eight seasons at various stadia in the region and under the direction of numerous owners (including Elton John!) but they never really drew anywhere.

It was a rough, chippy match, at least for the hosts.  The Sounders, playing their first match under the direction of manager John Best, committed 16 fouls and knocked two Aztecs players out of the game.  But Los Angeles got the best of it in the scoring column, with rookie Doug McMillan netting two goals off of assists from Uri Bonhoffer.   (McMillan would later earn 1974 Rookie-of-the-Year honors in the NASL).

Let the record show that 24-year old English forward John Rowlands scored the first goal in Sounders history off a header late in the first half.  But it wasn’t enough as the Aztecs won 2-1.  Los Angeles would go on to win their first and only NASL title in August 1974.



May 5, 1974 Seattle Sounders Roster

May 5, 1974 Los Angeles Aztecs Roster



Seattle Sounders Home Page


Written by andycrossley

June 23rd, 2014 at 9:09 pm