Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Indoor Soccer’ Category

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

leave a comment

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.



Los Angeles Lazers Home Page

Minnesota Strikers Home Page


Written by andycrossley

September 15th, 2014 at 3:14 am

1993-2001 Sacramento Knights

leave a comment

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



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.



Continental Indoor Soccer League Media Guides

Continental Indoor Soccer League Programs


Written by andycrossley

September 7th, 2014 at 2:21 am

1993-1997 Arizona Sandsharks

leave a comment

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



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)



Continental Indoor Soccer League Media Guides

Continental Indoor Soccer League Programs




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

leave a comment

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

1992-2001 Buffalo Blizzard

leave a comment

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 W 19-18 Program
1993-94 3/26/1994 vs. Detroit Rockers W 12-8 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