Lively Tales About Dead Teams

ASL (1933-1983)

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American Soccer League FranchisesThe American Soccer League (1933-1983) began life in the big cities and outlying industrial areas of the Northeast during the Great Depression.  In fact, the league referred to here is actually a reincarnation of the original ASL, which played in New England, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania from 1921 to 1933.

For most of its 50-year existence, the ASL was a cluster of ethnically-identified clubs in the Northeast.  Teams came and went on annual basis, often dropping out or changing identities in the middle of seasons.  See the alphabetical listings below just for the city of Baltimore to get an idea of the churn. Until 1969, the ASL played a fall-to-spring schedule that mirrored the traditional football calendar played in Europe and elsewhere.  In 1969, the ASL switched to the summer schedule more familiar to American fans.

When the tide began to rise for pro soccer in the United States during the 1970’s, the league began to expand its geographic footprint and take on the trappings of larger pro leagues.  By 1972, the ethnic team names were largely gone, although a few clubs such as the New York Apollo (formerly the New York Greeks) chose names that still hewed to the ethnic identities of their organizers.  The league hired former Boston Celtics star Bob Cousy as Commissioner.  Cousy was the first to admit he knew little about the game of soccer, but it was assumed that the future Pro Basketball Hall-of-Famer would raise the league’s national PR profile and he did.  By 1976, the ASL reached the West Coast, launching expansion franchises from Los Angeles to Tacoma. Eventually, the league took out office space on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.

During this time, the ASL served as the 2nd Division league in the United States to the far bigger-budgeted North American Soccer League (1968-1984).  It was not uncommon for ASL teams to lose their top players to the NASL, although the escalator sometimes ran in the other direction as well, with top NASL and foreign stars such as Phil Parkes, Eusebio and Jeff Bourne sometimes slumming it for a few seasons or playing out their final days before small crowds in ASL cities.

Ultimately, the ASL’s boom period in the 1970’s was unsustainable, just as the NASL’s was. The league folded following the 1983 season after a small group of owners defected to launch the doomed United Soccer League (1984-1985), leaving the ASL with too few clubs to continue.  A new East Coast-based league launched in 1988 reviving the American Soccer League name, but this was an entirely different organization.

Click here for FWiL’s 2012 interview with NBC an ESPN soccer broadcaster Glenn Davis, who looks back on playing in the ASL during its final season in 1983.

The franchise list below is cobbled together from Dave Litterer and Steve Holroyd’s remarkable research on the league at Dave’s American Soccer History Archives site.  Check ’em out.


American Soccer League Franchises

Franchise Years Active Tagged Posts
Allentown 1939 Tagged Posts
Baltimore Americans 1939-1949 Tagged Posts
Baltimore Bays 1973 Tagged Posts
Baltimore Canton 1934-1936 Tagged Posts
Baltimore Flyers 1967-1968 Tagged Posts
Baltimore German 1938-1939 Tagged Posts
Baltimore Pompei 1957-1961 Tagged Posts
Baltimore Rockets 1953-1957 Tagged Posts
Baltimore S.C. 1936-1942 Tagged Posts
Baltimore St. Gerard's 1966-1967 Tagged Posts
Baltimore Stars 1972 Tagged Posts
Bethlehem Hungarians 1938-1939 Tagged Posts
Boca Juniors 1963-1964 Tagged Posts
Boston Astros 1969-1975 Tagged Posts
Boston Metros 1963-1964 Tagged Posts
Boston Tigers 1965-1968 Tagged Posts
Brookhattan 1938-1957 Tagged Posts
Brookhattan-Galicia 1957-1959 Tagged Posts
Brooklyn Celtic 1933-1935 Tagged Posts
Brooklyn F.C. 1933-1934 Tagged Posts
Brooklyn Giants 1942-1943 Tagged Posts
Brooklyn Hakoah 1948-1956 Tagged Posts
Brooklyn Hispano 1933-1956 Tagged Posts
Brooklyn Italians 1956-1961 Tagged Posts
Brooklyn St. Mary's Celtics 1935-1942 Tagged Posts
Brooklyn Wanderers 1942-1948 Tagged Posts
California Sunshine 1977-1980  Tagged Posts
Carolina Lightnin' 1981-1983 Tagged Posts
Chicago Americans 1972 Tagged Posts
Chicago Cats 1975-1976 Tagged Posts
Cincinnati Comets 1972-1975 Tagged Posts
Cleveland Cobras 1975-1981  Tagged Posts
Cleveland Stars 1972-1973 Tagged Posts
Colombo 1959-1960 Tagged Posts
Columbus Magic 1979-1980 Tagged Posts
Connecticut Wildcats 1973-1974  Tagged Posts
Connecticut Yankees 1975-1978  Tagged Posts
Dallas Americans 1983  Tagged Posts
Deleware Wings 1972-1974 Tagged Posts
Detroit Express 1981-1983  Tagged Posts
Detroit Mustangs 1972-1973 Tagged Posts
Detroit S.C. 1972 Tagged Posts
Elizabeth Falcons 1954-1959 Tagged Posts
Falcons S.C. 1959-1962 Tagged Posts
Falcons-Warsaw 1962-1964 Tagged Posts
Fall River Astros 1967-1968 Tagged Posts
Fall River S.C. 1967-1968 Tagged Posts
Galicia-Honduras 1961-1962 Tagged Posts
Galicia S.C. 1959-1961 Tagged Posts
Gary Tigers 1973 Tagged Posts
Georgia Generals 1982 Tagged Posts
Golden Gate Gales 1980  Tagged Posts
Hartford Kings 1966-1968 Tagged Posts
Hartford S.C. 1964-1966 Tagged Posts
Indiana Tigers 1974 Tagged Posts
Indianapolis Daredevils 1978-1979 Tagged Posts
Inter-Brooklyn Italians 1961-1962 Tagged Posts
Inter S.C. 1962-1963 & 1965-1966 Tagged Posts
Jacksonville Tea Men 1983 Tagged Posts
Kearny Americans 1941-1953 Tagged Posts
Kearny Celtic 1942-1951 Tagged Posts
Kearny Irish 1933-1942 Tagged Posts
Kearny Scots 1933-1941 Tagged Posts
Las Vegas Seagulls 1979 Tagged Posts
Los Angeles Skyhawks 1976-1979  Tagged Posts
Ludlow Lusitano 1955-1956 & 1957-1958 Tagged Posts
Ludlow S.C. 1956-1957 Tagged Posts
Miami Americans 1980 Tagged Posts
Nashville Diamonds 1982  Tagged Posts
New Brunswick Hungarian 1967-1969 Tagged Posts
New Brunswick Hungarian-Americans 1963-1967 Tagged Posts
New England Oceaneers 1977 Tagged Posts
New England Sharks 1981 Tagged Posts
New Jersey Americans 1976-1979 Tagged Posts
New Jersey Brewers 1973-1975 Tagged Posts
New Jersey Schaefer Brewers 1972 Tagged Posts
New York Americans 1933-1956 Tagged Posts
New York Apollo 1973-1979 Tagged Posts
New York Brookhattan 1933-1938 Tagged Posts
New York Eagles 1978-1979 & 1981 Tagged Posts
New York Greeks 1971-1972 Tagged Posts
New York Hakoah 1956-1962 Tagged Posts
New York Hakoah-Americans 1962-1964 Tagged Posts
New York Inter 1966-1969 Tagged Posts
New York United 1980-1981 Tagged Posts
Newark Falcons 1964-1967 Tagged Posts
Newark Germans 1933-1937 Tagged Posts
Newark Ukrainian-Sitch 1962-1970 Tagged Posts
Nor'East United 1972 Tagged Posts
Oakland Buccaneers 1976 Tagged Posts
Oklahoma City Slickers 1982-1983 Tagged Posts
Olimpia 1965-1967 Tagged Posts
Passon Phillies 1936-1938 Tagged Posts
Paterson Caledonian 1936-1938 Tagged Posts
Paterson F.C. 1939-1941 Tagged Posts
Pennsylvania Stoners 1979-1983 Tagged Posts
Philadelphia 1938-1939 Tagged Posts
Philadelphia Americans 1941-1953 Tagged Posts
Philadelphia German-Americans 1933-1941 Tagged Posts
Philadelphia Nationals 1941-1954 Tagged Posts
Philadelphia Passon 1939-1941 Tagged Posts
Philadelphia Spartans 1969-1972 Tagged Posts
Philadelphia Ukrainians 1957-1958 Tagged Posts
Philadelphia Ukrainians 1969-1970 Tagged Posts
Phoenix Fire 1980 (Preseason) Tagged Posts
Pittsburgh Cannons 1972 Tagged Posts
Pittsburgh Miners 1975 Tagged Posts
Ponta Delgada S.C. 1951-1953 Tagged Posts
Rhode Island Oceaneers 1974-1976 Tagged Posts
Rochester Flash 1981-1982 Tagged Posts
Rochester Lancers 1967-1969 Tagged Posts
Roma S.C. 1964-1968 Tagged Posts
Sacramento Gold 1978-1980 Tagged Posts
Sacramento Spirits 1976-1977 Tagged Posts
St. Louis Frogs 1972 Tagged Posts
St. Louis Mules 1972 Tagged Posts
Santa Barbara Condors 1977 Tagged Posts
Southern California Lazers 1978  Tagged Posts
Syracuse Scorpions 1969-1970 Tagged Posts
Syracuse Suns 1971 & 1973-1974 Tagged Posts
Tacoma Tides 1976  Tagged Posts
Trenton Americans 1953-1955 Tagged Posts
Trenton Athletics 1948-1951 Tagged Posts
Trenton Highlanders 1938-1939 Tagged Posts
Uhrik Truckers 1953-1965 Tagged Posts
Ukrainian Nationals 1957-1968 Tagged Posts
Utah Golden Spikers 1976 Tagged Posts
Utah Pioneers 1976 Tagged Posts
Virginia Capitol Cavaliers 1971 Tagged Posts
Washington Cavaliers 1972 Tagged Posts
Washington Darts 1967-1969 Tagged Posts
Worcester Astros 1975 Tagged Posts

Written by AC

March 25th, 2012 at 2:01 pm

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