The Los Angeles Wolves were a pro soccer club founded by Washington Redskins and Los Angeles Kings owner Jack Kent Cooke. The Wolves were one of twelve founding members of the United Soccer Association (USA) in 1967. The USA planned to launch in 1968, but accelerated its timetable when a rival league, the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL), announced plans to start play in 1967. The NPSL also had an L.A. franchise, the Los Angeles Toros.
Due to the hasty launch, the USA imported entire European and South American clubs to stock the rosters of its twelve franchises. The Wolves were actually Wolverhampton Wanderers of England in 1967.
The Wolves topped the USA’s Western Conference with a 5-5-2 record. On July 14th, 1967, the Wolves hosted the Washington Whips in the United Soccer Association championship game at Memorial Coliseum. A crowd of 17,824 watched the Wolves best the Whips 6-5 in sudden death overtime.
After the 1967 season, the USA merged with the rival NPSL to form the North American Soccer League (NASL). Jack Kent Cooke’s Wolves retained the Los Angeles market while their erstwhile rivals, the Toros, moved south to San Diego.
The NASL abandoned the imported team strategy, so the 1968 Wolves featured an entirely new roster and coaching staff from the previous year’s champs. The club also left the Memorial Coliseum for a new home at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The re-booted Wolves dropped to 11-13-8 and failed to make the playoffs.
The Wolves folded following the 1968 season. Pro soccer returned to Los Angeles six years later with the formation of the NASL’s Los Angeles Aztecs in 1974.
Los Angeles Wolves Memorabilia
Wolves vs. Chicago Mustangs. May 8, 1968
Wolves @ Vancouver Royals. June 29, 1968
Wolves founder Jack Kent Cooke died of cardiac arrest on April 6, 1997 at the age of 84.
1967 Wolves Manager Ronnie Allen passed away on June 9, 2001. He was 72.
Owners: Texas Professional Soccer, Inc. (Bill Spear, et al.)
ASL Championships: None USL Championships: None
The Dallas Americans were a lower division U.S. pro soccer club active for parts of three seasons in the mid-1980’s. The Americans replaced the NASL’s Dallas Tornado (1967-1981) on the local soccer scene. The team played at John Clark Stadium in Plano.
Longtime Tornado star Bobby Moffatt was instrumental in founding the franchise and arranging its entry for its entry in the 2nd Division American Soccer League in February 1983. Ownership group Texas Professional Soccer, Inc. purchased the rights to the ASL’s long-dormant Golden Gate Gales franchise, which had last taken the field in 1980, and shifted it to northern Texas.
On the field, the Americans featured a number of former Tornado players on the roster, including Jeff Bourne, Neil Cohen, Billy Phillips and player-coach Wolfgang Rausch. After a hot start to the 1983 season, the American cooled off somewhat and finished with a 13-12 record. That was good enough for a semi-final playoff berth, where Dallas was eliminated by the Pennsylvania Stoners.
Following the 1983 season, the American Soccer League folded after more than a half century of operation. Several former ASL clubs, including the Americans, spearheaded the formation of a successor organization: the United Soccer League. The USL’s focus was on “Americanization” of the sport. League rules required that seven American players be on the field at all times. Dallas’ pre-season roster for the 1984 USL campaign included fourteen Americans and three foreign players.
The USL entered the spring/summer 1984 season with nine franchises and plans for a winter indoor season to follow. But the league began to collapse in the fall of 1984. The USL limped into the spring of 1985 with just four active teams: Dallas, El Paso, Fort Lauderdale and Tulsa. El Paso and Tulsa quickly ran out of money and the USL shut its doors on June 26th, 1985, taking the Americans down with it.
Striker Jeff Bourne (Americans ’83) died of ALS on July 31, 2014 at the age of 66.
Arena (Indoor Soccer): The Pontiac Silverdome (16,860)
Team Colors: Orange & Navy Blue
1978-1981: Roger Faulkner, Jimmy Hill, Gordon Preston, et al.
1981-1983: Sonny Van Arnem
Soccer Bowl Championships: None ASL Champions: 1982
The Detroit Express began life as an expansion team in the North American Soccer League in 1978. Express ownership was headed up by British football broadcaster and promoter Jimmy Hill. Hill and the Express gained some national (and international) attention for acquiring English soccer star Trevor Francis on loan from Birmingham City in 1978. Francis was a prolific scorer and the first footballer to earn 1 million pounds sterling per season in England.
Francis played for the Express in 1978 and 1979. It was an era when NASL owners lured numerous aging European stars to America with eye-popping paychecks. Francis was an exception to this NASL retirement plan. He was only 25 years old and at the peak of his powers during his Express seasons. Francis was a prominent attraction for the Express. But one of the club’s general partners eventually soured on this imported superstar approach:
In a 2012 self-published memoir, Harold “Sonny” Van Arnem compared the NASL to “a league full of Harlem Globetrotters, except they player soccer. Now, a lot of people enjoy watching the Globetrotters play, but only about once a year. We need people to come out a dozen times a year, and this all-star approach isn’t working.”
Van Arnem’s solution was Americanization. Grass roots pro soccer, relevant to the American fan because the American player was the norm rather than the exception. This was just as well because the rest of the Express ownership gave up on Detroit in February 1981. Jimmy Hill moved the NASL franchise to Washington, DC where it met a quick and ugly end in six months.
Van Arnem, meanwhile, retained control of the Detroit Express name and marks. He immediately relaunched a new version of the club in the ramshackle 2nd division American Soccer League in the spring of 1981. The “New” Detroit Express would play in the ASL from 1981 to 1983.
This 1982 season was the high water mark for the New Express. The club posted a league best 19-5-4 record. Both the Express and their opening day opponents from Oklahoma City fielded starting line-ups full of young Americans, but the impact players were still foreign. Detroit’s pair of English forwards, Brian Tinnion and Andy Chapman, finished 1-2 in the ASL in scoring in 1982, with teammate Billy Boljevic (Yugoslavia) 4th.
The Express and the Oklahoma City Slickers met in the best-of-three 1982 American Soccer League championship series. After splitting the first two matches, the teams returned to the Pontiac Silverdome on September 22, 1982 for the deciding game. Sonny Van Arnem, faced with only a few days to promote the game after advancing from the semi-finals, gave away 70,000 tickets to local Dodge dealers. An army of car salesmen offered the duckets for free to anyone who showed up at a dealership. The result: an astonishing crowd of 33,762 that showed up at an NFL stadium to watch what amounted to a minor league soccer game. The Express won the game 4-1 and with it the league title.
The Express played one final season in the summer of 1983. The team went out of business along with the rest of the American Soccer League
Two British stars from the ASL-era Express, Andy Chapman and Brian Tinnion, remain fixtures on the Michigan soccer scene. Both were with the now-defunct Detroit Rockers indoor team in the 1990’s, and are still active in youth soccer in the region.
Detroit Express Memorabilia
Detroit Express Pennant
1978 Express Media Guide
Express vs. Washington Diplomats. June 13, 1979
1979-80 Detroit Express Media Guide
Express vs. Atlanta Chiefs. February 6, 1980
1980 Express Media Guide
1980-81 Express Media Guide (Indoor Season)
Express vs. Carolina Lightnin'. August 9, 1981
1982 Express Pocket Schedule
Express vs. Rochester Flash. July 17, 1982
Express vs. Oklahoma City Slickers. May 15, 1982
1983 Express Pocket Schedule
Detroit Express Alumni vs. Cleveland Force. July 12, 1986
Head coach Ken Furphy (Express ’78-’81) died on January 17, 2015 at age 83.
Express owner Jimmy Hill passed away on December 19, 2015 at the age of 87 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Daily Mail obit.
Detroit Express Video
Express vs. Dallas Tornado at the Silverdome. June 11, 1978
Haines and his partner Glen Goldstein hoped to operate a pair of indoor franchises at Reading’s Santander Arena. The Roar, formed in July 2013, r began play in November 2013. The duo also announced plans for an indoor football team, known as the Pennsylvania Steam, that would begin play in the spring of 2014.
Unlike the doomed Steam, the Roar actually managed to stage a season in Reading. And it was historically awful. The Roar were outscored 375-109 on the season and finished with a record of 1-19. Crowds were an embarrassment for the team’s 10 home dates at Santander Arena (see the archived stream of the team’s 2013 home opener below). To the surprise of no one, the Roar quietly closed their doors sometime in April/May of 2014.
Pennsylvania Roar Video
The Roar debut in Reading at an empty Santander Arena on November 15th, 2013.
The Salem Angels were an Oregon-based short-season Class A affiliate of the California Angels during the mid-1980’s. During Salem’s first season as an Angels’ affiliate, the club won the Northwest League championship. This despite finishing the regular season with a losing record of 34-36.
Notable players included Kirk McCaskill (Salem ’82), Mark McLemore (Salem ’82), Dante Bichette (Salem ’84) and Chuck Finley (Salem ’85).
Local stockbroker Clint Holland operated the Angels as a mom-and-pop operation, serving as co-owner, team President and General Manager. The Angels played on the campus of Chemeketa Community College.
“Our attendance was steady all the way through,” Holland told The Salem Statesman-Journal for a 1996 retrospective. “We operated just barely in the black. Our problem was, we kept putting money into the bathrooms, lights.”
Following the 1987 season, Holland sold the Angels to serial minor league investor David Elmore. The team’s Major League affiliation changed at the same time, with the Los Angeles Dodgers replacing the Angels for the 1988 season. After two more seasons as the Salem Dodgers, the franchise left town for Yakima, Washington in 1990.