American Soccer League (1969-1970)
Born: 1969 – ASL expansion franchise
Died: Postseason 1970 – The Scorpions cease operations
The Syracuse Scorpions were a two-year entry in the lower-division American Soccer League (1933-1983). The team originally played their games on the outfield grass of MacArthur Stadium, the city’s minor league baseball stadium. But the ballpark burned down in May 1969 and was unusable for the rest of the summer, forcing both the Scorpions and the Syracuse Chiefs baseball team to make new arrangements. The Scorpions played at Griffin Field during the latter part of the 1969 season.
At 12-5-3, the Scorpions finished in a first place tie with the Rochester Lancers in the ASL’s Northern Division. After dispatching the Lancers in a tiebreaker playoff match, the Scorpions faced the league’s best club, the Southern Division champion Washington Darts in the two-game aggregate goals championship series in October 1969. The Darts (14-1-5) lost only once in 20 matches in 1969 and they handled the Scorpions easily, outscoring Syracuse 2-0 in both of the finals matches.
Rookie Jim Lefkos, a Cypriot out of the University of Toronto, led the ASL in scoring in 1969 with 22 goals.
In 1970, the Scorpions were able to return to a repaired MacArthur Stadium in 1970. But the eternally unstable ASL was reduced to just 5 clubs and the schedule cut in half from 20 regular season matches to 10. The ASL suspended the Scorpions franchise in late summer for failing to meet financial obligations. According to Dave Litterer’s American Soccer History Archive site, the Scorpions managed to play just six matches in 1970, finishing 2-4.
Scorpions GM and Head Coach Sal DeRosa left the club in mid-season 1970 to take over the coaching reigns of the Rochester Lancers, who were now members of the 1st Division North American Soccer League. DeRosa led the Lancers to their first and only NASL crown later that summer. Several players from Syracuse’s 1969 finalist team moved to Lancers in 1970 as well, including top scorer Jim Lefkos.
The Scorpions folded after the 1970 season. A newly organized Syracuse club – the Suns – replaced the Scorpions in the ASL in 1971.