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Chicago Sting vs. St. Louis Steamers. April 16, 1988

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Ernie Buriano Chicago StingChicago Sting vs. St. Louis Steamers
April 16, 1988
Rosemont Horizon
Attendance: 4,604

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs
52 Pages

 

A quiet, downbeat ending to two proud American soccer franchises on a spring Saturday night in suburban Chicago.  The St. Louis Steamers hung a 4-3 overtime defeat on the host Chicago Sting in what would prove to be the final game for both franchises.  As the Sting’s Chicago Tribune beat writer, the late John Leptich, put it the next morning: “The term sudden death never had more applications.”

The Sting, at the time, were the longest continuously operating pro soccer club in the United States.  Founded on Halloween 1974 by commodities Lee Stern, the Sting won two outdoor soccer championships in the North American Soccer League in the early 1980’s before moving permanently indoors in 1984.  The team drew huge crowds at Chicago Stadium for indoor soccer early in the decade.  But a 1986 move to the suburban Rosemont Horizon coincided with a loss of form on the field.  Attendance cratered from over 10,000 per match during the 1984-85 campaign to fewer than 6,000 two years later.  By the spring of 1988, ever a stalwart backer like Stern was exhausted and a possible sale and relocated to Denver or Milwaukee was rumored.

If the Major Indoor Soccer League itself survived, that is.  As this final weekend of the 1987-88 regular season calendar approached, the MISL was at loggerheads with its Players’ Association over a new collective bargaining agreement.  League owners wanted to slash the salary cap from the existing $1.25M to $898,000 per season.  The owners held all the leverage.  On April 5th, 1988, league officials threatened to cancel the 1988 MISL playoffs and fold the league if the players didn’t capitulate.  The union signed off on the new deal just before midnight on April 14th, 1988.  The playoffs would happen after all, but that mattered little to Chicago or St. Louis, who had each clinched last place in their respective divisions.

The St. Louis Steamers, founded in 1979, were in worse shape than the Sting in April 1988.  Once the MISL’s model franchise, the Steamers outdrew the NHL’s St. Louis Blues every winter from 1980 through 1984.  Their 1981-82 season average of 17,107 fans per game remains the highest in the history of indoor soccer.  But ownership turnover and questionable trades eroded the club competitively and at the box office in the mid-1980’s.  The day before this match, the Steamers failed to make payroll and the team arrived in Chicago clutching IOUs.

Poli Garcia St. Louis SteamersOn “Fan Appreciation Night” at the Horizon, many of the Sting’s fan favorites were in street clothes.  Pato Margetic, Frank Klopas, Frantz Mathieu, Heinz Wirtz and Chris Vaccaro watched from the Chicago bench.  Nevertheless, the hosts carried a 3-2 lead into the final quarter.  With eight minutes to go, St Louis’ Boki Bandovic beat Chicago’s reserve goalkeeper Jay McCutcheon to know the match at 3-3 and send it to overtime.

Four minutes in, Poli Garcia of the Steamers struck for his 50th goal of the season to give St. Louis a 4-3 sudden death victory.

“I guess the way to win games is not to pay the players,” Lee Stern remarked to The Tribune afterwards, noting the Steamers’ two-game winning streak after their final paychecks bounced.

Poli Garcia’s golden goal ended not just the game, but the season and the existence of both clubs.  The Steamers were booted from the MISL two months later and the Chicago Sting closed up shop in early July 1988.  Indoor soccer would soon return to both cities.  The Chicago Power (1988-1996) of the lower-budget AISA started up in the fall of 1988 with a collection of ex-Sting players.  The MISL expanded back into St. Louis with the St. Louis Storm (1989-1992) a year later.  But neither club would recapture the following of the Sting or the Steamers in their early 80’s prime.

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Chicago soccer trivia from the Sting’s final match that only Peter Wilt may care about:

  • Match referee Bill Maxwell also called the Sting’s final outdoor match, the club’s NASL Soccer Bowl victory on October 4, 1984
  • Pato Margetic was the only player on both the Sting’s final outdoor roster in 1984 and final indoor roster in 1988.
  • Brazilian forward Batata, a four-time MISL All-Star, scored the final goal in Sting history.
  • Ernie Buriano (Sting ’86-’88) appeared on the cover of the final Sting game program (top right).

 

==Links==

Chicago Sting Home Page

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Written by andycrossley

March 4th, 2015 at 12:35 pm

1974-1984 Vancouver Whitecaps

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Vancouver Whitecaps Media GuideNorth American Soccer League (1974-1984)

Born: December 11, 1973 – NASL expansion franchise.
Died: January 1985 – The Whitecaps cease operations.

Stadiums:

Arenas:

  • 1980-1981: Pacific Coliseum
  • 1981-1982: PNE Agrodome
  • 1983-1984: Pacific Coliseum

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The original Vancouver Whitecaps were British Columbia’s beloved pro soccer club of the 1970’s and early 1980’s.  The club competed in the North American Soccer League from 1974 until 1984.  The ‘Caps also brought an attractive slate of international exhibitions to Vancouver, importing top foreign clubs such as Fluminense, Manchester City, Manchester United, Rangers and Roma for friendly matches and tournaments.  From 1980 to 1984, the Whitecaps played indoor soccer during the winter months.

Vancouver Whitecaps Media GuideOne of the NASL’s top clubs during the late 1970’s, the Whitecaps finest hour came at the conclusion of the 1979 season.  The Whitecaps dispatched the two-time defending champion New York Cosmos in the playoff semi-finals.  Then, on the Cosmos’ home ground at Giants Stadium in New Jersey, the Whitecaps beat the Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-1 in Soccer Bowl ’79 to capture their first and only title.  An estimated 100,000 fans gathered in downtown Vancouver for a parade to honor the team.

Midway through the 1983 season, the Whitecaps left their long-time home at Empire Stadium to move into the 60,000-seat B.C. Place stadium.  The team’s first game at B.C. Place on June 20, 1983 drew 60,342 fans, which set a Canadian pro soccer attendance record which would stand for three decades.

But attendance in the new dome dipped quickly and by the start of the 1984 season, original founder Herb Capozzi had turned over controlling interest in the team to oil millionaire Bob Carter.  Carter’s reign was an embarrassment.  With the club bleeding millions of dollars, Carter made noises about folding the club in the middle of the 1984 NASL season.  The ‘Caps would end up finishing out the year, knocked out in the playoff semi-finals by the Chicago Sting.  While the ‘Caps were playing out what would be their final games in late 1984, Carter was busy getting himself into hot water for lurid S&M hijinks with a pair of underage prostitutes.

Deep in debt, and with the rest of the NASL collapsing around it, the Whitecaps declared bankruptcy in January 1985 and went out of business.  The Whitecaps name was revived in 2001 and the “new” Whitecaps now compete in Major League Soccer.

 

==Slideshow==

 

 

 

==Vancouver Whitecaps Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other

1974

1974 7/7/1974 vs. St. Louis Stars W 2-1 (SO) Program

1975

1975 5/28/1975 @ New York Cosmos W 1-0 Program
1975 7/3/1975 @ Portland Timbers  L 2-1 Program

1976

1976 5/16/1976 @ San Jose Earthquakes L 2-0 Program
1976 5/19/1976 vs. Rangers T 2-2 Program
1976 7/7/1976 vs. San Jose Earthquakes L 1-0 Program
1976 7/27/1976 vs. Borussia Moenchengladbach W 4-3 Program

1977

1977 4/8/1977 vs. Portland Timbers  L 1-0 Program
1977 6/30/1977 vs. New York Cosmos W 5-3 Program
1977 7/5/1977 vs. Seattle Sounders W 1-0 Program

1978

1978 6/22/1978 vs. Tulsa Roughnecks W 5-1 Program
1978 8/12/1978 @ Portland Timbers  L 1-0 Program

1979

1979 3/30/1979 vs. Dallas Tornado L 2-0 (SO) Program
1979 6/10/1979 @ Minnesota Kicks L 1-0 Program
1979 7/15/1979 @ New York Cosmos W 4-2 Program
1979 8/18/1979 vs. Dallas Tornado W 2-1 Program
1979 9/8/1979 Tampa Bay Rowdies W 2-1 Program

1980

1980 5/21/1980 vs. A.S. Roma T 1-1 Program
1980 5/24/1980 vs. Manchester City W 5-0 Program Video
1980 6/29/1980 vs. New York Cosmos L 3-0 Program
1980 7/6/1980 vs. Rochester Lancers L 3-1 Program

1981

1981 4/18/1981 @ Portland Timbers  W 2-1 (OT) Program
1981 5/11/1981 vs. West Bromwich Albion W 2-1 Program
1981 6/3/1981 vs. Manchester City W 2-0 Program
1981 6/6/1981 vs. Calgary Boomers L 3-2 (SO) Program
1981 6/29/1981 vs. Napoli T 1-1 Program
1981 7/12/1981 @ Chicago Sting L 2-1 (OT) Program
1981 7/15/1981 vs. Sparta Rotterdam W 4-0 Program
1981 8/12/1981 vs. Seattle Sounders W 5-0 Program
1981 8/19/1981 vs. San Jose Earthquakes W 3-1 Program
1981 8/26/1981 vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies L 1-0 Program
1981 10/11/1981 @ Nottingham Forest T 2-2 Program 1
1981 10/11/1981  @ Nottingham Forest T 2-2 Program 2

1982

1982 3/23/1982 vs. Borussia Moenchengladbach ?? Program
1982 6/19/1982 @ Chicago Sting W 3-2 (Shootout) Program
1982 6/23/1982 @ New York Cosmos L 3-2 Program

1983

1983 6/20/1983 vs. Seattle Sounders W 2-1 Program
1983 8/6/1983 vs. Seattle Sounders L 2-1 Program
1983 9/8/1983 vs. Toronto Blizzard W 1-0 Program

1983-84 (Indoor)

1983-84 12/30/1983 @ Chicago Sting L 7-3 Program
1983-84 1/13/1984 @ Chicago Sting L 4-3 (OT) Program

1984

1984 5/20/1984 @ New York Cosmos L 2-1 Program
1984 5/23/1984 vs. Golden Bay Earthquakes W 5-3 Program
1984 5/27/1984 vs. Ajax L 2-1 Program
1984 6/6/1984 vs. Fluminense W 3-1 Program
1984 6/27/1984 vs. Chicago Sting W 1-0 Program
1984 8/29/1984 @ New York Cosmos L 2-1 Program
1984 9/18/1984 @ Chicago Sting W 1-0 (OT) Program
1984 9/23/1984 vs. Chicago Sting L 3-1 Program

 

==Key Players==

 

==In Memoriam==

Alan Ball (Whitecaps ’79-’80) died April 25, 2007 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in his home. Daily Telegraph obituary.

Former Whitecaps GM Peter Bridgwater (’79-’83) passed away from cancer on June 21, 2005.  Soccer America obituary.

Whitecaps founder and long-time owner Herb Capozzi died of cancer on November 21, 2011 at age 86.

 

==YouTube==

The Whitecaps vs. Montreal Manic at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. August 1, 1981

 

==Links==

North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

February 16th, 2015 at 4:19 am

March 17, 1984 – Cleveland Force vs. Pittsburgh Spirit

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Dave MacKenzie Pittsburgh SpiritCleveland Force vs. Pittsburgh Spirit
March 17, 1984
Richfield Coliseum
Attendance: 19,048

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs

 

Cleveland-Pittsburgh isn’t just a great rivalry in the NFL.  Back in the early 1980’s, the two cities had a fierce rivalry in indoor soccer, of all things.  The Pittsburgh Spirit, owned by Pittsburgh Penguins boss Edward DeBartolo Sr., were relatively popular, claiming similar crowds to the pre-Lemieux Pens.  Meanwhile, after several glum years at the box office, the Cleveland Force became a late-blooming hit, packing huge crowds into the Richfield Coliseum by 1983.

The Spirit-Force rivalry burned hottest during the 1983-84 season. Both clubs were virtually unbeatable at home and the two teams stayed neck-and-neck in the Eastern Division of the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) throughout the winter.  Together with a third Eastern Division foe, the Baltimore Blast, the trio were easily the three best clubs in the MISL.

The standing room-only crowd of 19,048 was a regular season record for the Cleveland Force and the 5th largest crowd in history for the MISL at the time.  The home town fans would go home disappointed.  Ian Sybis netted a hat trick for Pittsburgh and Polish defender Adam Topolski added a goal and three assists en route to a 6-4 win for the visitors.

The Force would take their revenge in the postseason.  The clubs finished with near identical records.  Pittsburgh in 2nd place at 32-16 (19-5 at home) and Cleveland right behind at 31-17 (18-6 at home).  But in the quarterfinal playoffs, the Force easily dispatched the Spirit 3 games to 1 in a best-of-five series.

The Cleveland-Pittsburgh soccer rivalry dissolved when the Pittsburgh Spirit went out of business in April 1986.  The Cleveland Force followed two years, shutting down in July 1988.

 

==Links==

Cleveland Force Home Page

Pittsburgh Spirit Home Page

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Written by andycrossley

February 15th, 2015 at 2:27 pm

April 20, 1996 – New York-New Jersey MetroStars vs. New England Revolution

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Tony Meola MetroStarsNew York-New Jersey MetroStars vs. New England Revolution
April 20, 1996
Giants Stadium
Attendance: 46,826

Major League Soccer Programs
54 Pages (Tabloid newsprint)

 

Nice find at the bottom of a box sent over by a former New York sportswriter late last year.  This oversize tabloid-style program is from the inaugural home game of the old New York MetroStars of Major League Soccer back in April 1996.  (The MetroStars are the ancestors of today’s New York Red Bulls).  U.S. National Team goalkeeper Tony Meola shouts from the cover.

There was a big crowd on hand for the first pro soccer game at Giants Stadium since the demise of the New York Cosmos in 1985.  In fact, 62-year old Eddie Firmani, the man who coached the Cosmos to two Soccer Bowl titles in the 1970’s and helmed the club’s final NASL game at the Meadowlands in September 1984, was behind the bench for the Metros.

Firmani’s fleeting cameo – he would be the first MLS coach to resign/get fired, lasting just eight matches – was the closest any of the North Jersey old-timers would come to mistaking the Metros for the powerhouse Cosmos of old.  Twenty years on, the Metros-turned-Red Bulls have never won a game of any consequence.  And the club’s more mystically-inclined diehards apportion some of the blame for those decades of futility squarely back here on the night of April 20th, 1996. The evening that a 33-year old Italian defender brought the “Curse of Caricola” down upon the MetroStars/Red Bulls franchise in the very first home game.

I’d explain the doomed sequence here, but why bother when we have this video…

 

==YouTube==

The Curse of Caricola grabs hold of the MetroStars…

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Written by andycrossley

January 31st, 2015 at 1:05 am

August 8, 2004 – MetroStars vs. Los Angeles Galaxy

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Eddie Gaven New York MetroStarsMetroStars vs. Los Angeles Galaxy
August 8, 2004
Giants Stadium
Attendance: 14,687

Major League Soccer Programs
72 Pages

 

Clash of Major League Soccer’s Eastern and Western Conference leaders at Giants Stadium in early August 2004.

It seemed like this might finally be the breakout year for the MetroStars, who had never won any type of hardware in MLS’ first decade.  Some supporters of MLS’ hapless New York club even believed the team was the victim of “The Curse of Caricola“, dating back to a crushing own-goal defeat in the Metros’ inaugural match back in 1996.

But the 2004 team had talent and carried a four-game undefeated streak into the All-Star Break at the end of July.  17-year old Eddie Gaven, pictured on the day’s FREEKICK match program (above right) became the youngest All-Star Game starter in MLS history a week earlier.  He was joined on the Eastern Conference squad by defender Eddie Pope and Honduran midfielder Amado Guevara.  All three would later be named to MLS’ Best XI for the 2004 season and Guevara would be selected as league MVP.  The Metros also owned the powerful Los Angeles Galaxy club that summer, outscoring the Angelenos 5-1 in two earlier victories in June.

Looking back, the Metros’ 2004 season crested on this match.  It was a violent engagement, with five yellow cards and a red (to L.A.’s Chris Albright in the 68th) and another one-sided MetroStars victory.  Guevara opened the scoring on a penalty in the 36th minute, and Gaven beat Galaxy keeper Kevin Hartman in the 61st to break the game open.  The Metros went on to win 3-0.

After this afternoon, the Metros returned to form.  They were winless for the remainder of August and 2-6-2 for the rest of the regular season en route to a 3rd place finish in the Eastern Conference.  Eventual MLS Cup champion D.C. United routed the Metros 4-0 on aggregate in the first round of the 2004 playoffs.

The MetroStars brand lasted one more season (ill-fated, of course) before Red Bull purchased and re-branded the club in 2006.  Gaven also stayed  just one more season in New York.  He was traded to Columbus before the 2006 season and enjoyed a long and solid career with the Crew (2006-2013), but never again was named to the MLS Best XI as he was in 2004 as a 17-year old teenager.

 

==Links==

Eddie Gaven, The Oddest Goalkeeper in MLS History, Retires“, Barry Petchesky, Deadspin, October 13, 2013

 

==Downloads==

August 8, 2004 MetroStars-Galaxy Roster Card

August 8, 2004 Los Angeles Galaxy Game Notes

August 8, 2004 MetroStars Game Notes

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Written by andycrossley

January 8th, 2015 at 2:47 pm