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1967-1968 Chicago Mustangs

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Chicago Mustangs Media GuideUnited Soccer Association (1967)
North American Soccer League (1968)

Born: 1967 – USA founding franchise
Folded: Postseason 1968

Stadium: Comiskey Park (46,550)

Team Colors: Columbia Blue, White & Scarlet

Owner: Arthur Allyn Jr.

 

The Chicago Mustangs soccer club was a charter member of the United Soccer Association, a mid-1960’s effort to launch a first division professional league here in the States.  There were 12 member franchises representing 10 U.S. cities, plus Toronto and Vancouver.  Most of the clubs were backed by heavy-hitter investors from Major League Baseball, the NFL and the National Hockey League.  The owner of the Mustangs was Chicago White Sox boss Arthur Allyn Jr. and the soccer club played in Allyn’s South Side baseball stadium, Comiskey Park.

The founders of the United Soccer Association intended to begin play in 1968, but they felt compelled to bump their plans up a year when a rival circuit, the National Professional Soccer League, signed a TV contract with CBS and decided to start play in 1967.  With the accelerated timetable, the USA decided to import entire foreign clubs from Europe and South America to represent the league’s 12 cities in 1967.  The Chicago Mustangs were actually Cagliari Calcio, from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia.  Cagliari was enjoying a run of success in the Italian Serie A at the time – they would win their only Scudetto in 1970.  However, the Italians did not bring all of their stars to Chicago.  Gigi Riva, the greatest player in club history and the all-time leading scorer for the Italian National Team, stayed home.

The Mustangs/Cagliari struggled through their only season in the United Soccer Association.  The club finished out of the postseason hunt with a 3-7-2 record.  Attendance was dismal too, with an announced match average of just 4,207 at Comiskey.  A bright spot was 23-year old striker Roberto Boninsegna, who led the circuit in scoring with 10 goals in 9 appearances.  Boninsegna would go on to score Italy’s only goal in the 1970 World Cup final against Brazil.

After the 1967 season concluded in financial ruin for both the USA and the NPSL, the former rivals merged to form the North American Soccer League (NASL) in 1968.  That meant the contraction of one franchise in Chicago, as both leagues fielded a Windy City franchise in 1967.  The NPSL’s Chicago Spurs, based out of Soldier Field, moved to Kansas City, so the Mustangs continued on for a second season in 1968.   Cagliari and the other foreign ringer clubs would not return.  In 1968, all of the NASL clubs built their own rosters.

The all-new, multi-ethnic Mustangs were much improved in 1968.  Polish émigré Janusz Michalik led the NASL with 30 goals and 9 assists and won league MVP honors.  The club improved to 13-10-9, but this wasn’t quite good enough for playoff spot.  Attendance continued to be terrible though, dipping to under 2,500 fans per game at 45,000-seat Comiskey Park.

The NASL nearly folded after the 1968 season.  Membership shrunk for 17 clubs in 1968 to just 5 survivors for 1969.  The Mustangs were one of the casualties, withdrawing from the league in late 1968.  A semi-pro version of the Mustangs reportedly continued to play into the 1970’s.

Don’t miss Vadim Furmanov’s “A Sardinian Summer: the Forgotten Story of the Chicago Mustangs” over at Café Futbol.

 

==Chicago Mustangs Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other

1967

1967 6/4/1967 @ Washington Whips T 1-1 Program

1968

1968 5/8/1968  @ Los Angeles Wolves T 1-1 Program
1968 7/14/1968 @ New York Generals L 4-3 Program

 

==In Memoriam==

Former Mustangs owner Arthur Allyn Jr. passed away on March 22, 1985 at age 71.

 

==Links==

A Sardinian Summer: the Forgotten Story of the Chicago Mustangs“, Vadim Furmanov, Café Futbol, August 7, 2013.

From Amateur to MVP: Janusz Kowalik and the Chicago Mustangs“, Grant Czubinski, A Moment of Brilliance, February 11, 2014

North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs

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Written by AC

December 20th, 2014 at 9:01 pm

1975-1988 Chicago Sting

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Chicago StingNorth American Soccer League (1975-1984)
Major Indoor Soccer League (1982-1983 & 1984-1988)

Born: October 31, 1974 – NASL expansion franchise
Folded: July 8, 1988.

Stadiums:

Arenas:

Team Colors:

  • Black & Yellow (1983)
  • Black, Gold & White (1987)

Owners:

 

The Chicago Sting were an accomplished pro soccer club that enjoyed success both outdoors and indoors during a thirteen-year run from 1975 through 1988.   The Sting were formed on Halloween day 1974 as an expansion franchise in the North American Soccer League.

During the Sting’s early seasons under the direction of former Manchester United defender Bill Foulkes (1975-1977), the roster had a dominant British presence.  The Sting were not a factor in the NASL championship hunt during this era (despite a division title in 1976) and drew very poorly as the team shuffled games between Comiskey Park, Soldier Field and Wrigley Field each summer.   As late as 1978, the Sting had the worst attendance in the entire 24-team NASL, pulling just 4,188 fans per game.

It’s somewhat remarkable that Sting owner Lee Stern, a Chicago commodities broker, hung in during such a long stretch of lean years.  In fact, Stern would prove to be one of the most steadfast owners in American soccer, backing the money-losing club for its entire 13-year existence.  And as the 1980’s approached, the Sting’s fortunes began to improve.

Karl-Heinz Granitza Chicago StingThe 1978 season started disastrously.  Under new Head Coach Malcolm Musgrove (another British import), the Sting set a league record losing their first ten games of the season.  Musgrove would be fired without ever registering a win for the Sting.  But the English-heavy complexion of the club had already begun to shift under Musgrove.  1978 marked the arrival of West German striker Karl-Heinz Granitza, who would become the club’s greatest star, along with fellow German Arno Steffenhagen, another key contributor, and Danish winger Jorgen Kristensen.  German assistant coach Willy Roy took over the coaching reigns from Musgrove and improbably led the 0-10 Sting into the 1978 playoffs (thanks to the NASL’s very generous playoff system).

In 1980 the Sting won a division title with the 3rd best record in the league (21-11).  Granitza established himself as one of the NASL’s mostly consistently productive scorers.  In 1981, the Sting were even better – division champs again with a 23-9 record, tied for the best mark in the league with the defending champion New York Cosmos. Pato Margetic, a dynamic 21-year old Argentinean arrived to team with Granitza up top and spark the most potent offense in the NASL.  Margetic became an immediate fan favorite.  Sting crowds had tripled since the low water mark of 1978, up to nearly 13,000 per match in 1981.

The team’s growing popularity in Chicago was due in part to the Sting’s rivalry with and uncanny mastery of the New York Cosmos.  The Cosmos were an international super club before such a concept really existed, featuring a collection of world all-stars such as Carlos Alberto, Franz Beckenbauer and Giorgio Chinaglia.  By 1981, the New Yorkers had won three of the past four NASL championships.  And the Sting absolutely owned them.   Cosmos derbies became a big draw in Chicago.  A June 1981 regular season match against New York drew a franchise record 30,501 to Wrigley field for a thrilling 6-5 Sting victory.  (The Cosmos PR department later produced a short highlight reel of this match calledThe Greatest Game in NASL History.)

In September 1981, a new record crowd of 39,623 came out to Comiskey Park on a cold Monday night to watch the Sting eliminate the San Diego Sockers in Game Three of the playoff semi-finals to earn a trip to Soccer Bowl ’81, the NASL’s championship match.  They would play their arch rivals, the Cosmos, at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium on September 26, 1981.  Improbably, the NASL’s two highest scoring teams played a scoreless regulation and overtime period.  That sent the game into the NASL’s unusual “shootout” format to determine a league champion…

 

The Sting’s victory in Soccer Bowl ’81 gave the Windy City its first major professional sports since the Bears won the NFL championship in 1963.  And if you think calling the Sting and the NASL “major” seems like a stretch, consider this: nearly 10,000 fans greeted the Sting at O’Hare Airport on their return home from Toronto and over 100,000 more lined LaSalle Avenue for a ticker tape parade a few days later.

Chicago StingAs the Sting were developing into one of the NASL’s best outdoor clubs at the dawn of the 1980’s, the league also began to experiment with indoor soccer.  The Sting played their first indoor season in the winter of 1980-81 at the old Chicago Stadium downtown. They reached the indoor finals that first season, losing in a two-game sweep at the hands of the Edmonton Drillers.

The Sting quickly became a box office hit indoors.  Their league-leading average indoor crowd of 13,322 at Chicago Stadium for the 1981-82 season was better than the average for any outdoor season the Sting ever played. The team’s popularity was due in part to their near invincibility at home.  Going into the 1981-82 indoor playoffs, the Sting had an incredible 18-game winning streak at Chicago Stadium.  On Valentine’s Day 1982, the Sting beat the Tampa Bay Rowdies 10-9 in an overtime thriller at Chicago Stadium.  The standing room crowd of 19,398 was the largest ever to see an indoor soccer game in the United States at the time.  As the NASL began to wither – shrinking from 24 clubs in 1980 to just 9 by the beginning of the 1984 season, many began to assert that the Sting were better off simply playing indoors.

By 1984, the NASL was on its last legs.  The Sting defeated the Toronto Blizzard to win the NASL’s final championship in October of that year, but the buzz around Chicago was nothing like when the Sting won the Soccer Bowl in 1981.  There would be no massive parade with 100,000 fans lining the streets of downtown Chicago.  The Cubs were in the playoffs with a chance to win the pennant for the first time in decades, for one thing. For another, Sting owner Lee Stern had already formally pulled his club out of the dying NASL by the time the final whistle blew on the team’s championship victory.  The Sting were accepted into the Major Indoor Soccer League in August of 1984.  The club’s future was now exclusively as an indoor team.

By the time the Sting moved permanently indoors in the fall of 1984, the club’s moment was already in eclipse.  The team finished with a strong 28-20 record and averaged over 10,000 fans for the final time.  But a pair of 1st round home playoff losses to the Cleveland Force drew small crowds.  The following season the Sting finished with a losing record and the team fired Willy Roy after eight years and two championships.  Attendance crashed by 30%.  After the 1985-86 season, the Sting left Chicago Stadium for the suburban Rosemont Horizon, citing the deteriorating neighborhood around the Stadium and their belief that the team’s core audience lived in the suburbs.  Attendance dropped a further 20% during the Sting’s first season at the Horizon in 1986-87.  Karl-Heinz Granitza was suspended for insubordination in early 1987, ending his nine-year run with the Sting.

Chicago Sting MISLThe Sting mounted one last big counter offensive against the indifference swallowing the club in the summer of 1987.  Lee Stern brought on advertising executive Lou Weisbach as an investment partner and hired Chicago Bulls VP of Marketing David Rosenberg to re-energize the fan base.  Weisbach and Rosenberg boosted the front office staff to an all-time high of 21 employees and created a marketing campaign around “The New Chicago Sting”.  The center piece of the campaign was a reported $1 million investment in post-game concerts for two-thirds of the Sting’s home dates at the Rosemont Horizon.  In July 1987, Rosenberg unveiled the line-up of schlocky soft rock and oldies acts and cornball comedians, including the likes of Marie Osmond, Buddy Hackett, Fabian, Susan Anton and Jeffrey Osborne.

Whether the marriage of indoor soccer and live pop music was doomed from inception or whether it was the desperately unhip line-up of acts that the Sting procured, the campaign was a flop.  One month into the season, attendance was flat at under 6,000 per game and the Sting began lopping the concerts of the schedule.  A Granitza-less last place club under the direction of Roy’s successor Erich Geyer didn’t help matters.

By the end of the season, the Sting were done in Chicago.  A possible sale and relocation to Denver was explored and abandoned.   The Sting officially folded on July 8, 1988.

 

Chicago Sting Shop


Sting Throwback Jersey by Ultras


Sting Retro T-Shirt by Ultras

Ian Plenderleith’s Definitive Account of “The Short Times & Fast Life of the North American Soccer League”
 

Chicago Sting Memorabilia

 

Chicago Sting Video

 

 

 

 

Sting vs. Cosmos indoors at the Brendan Byrne Arena in New Jersey, circa 1981.

 

The Sting in their final declining years at Rosemont Horizon.  December 19, 1986 against the New York Express.  Note the unusual clear Plexiglass boards at the Horizon.

 

 

==In Memoriam==

Former Sting Head Coach Malcolm Musgrove died on September 14, 2007 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease at age 74.

Rudy Keller, who played one game at midfield for the Sting during the 1975 season, died in February 2011 at age 68.

 

 

==Downloads==

1981 Chicago Sting Playoff Portfolio prepared for Soccer Bowl ’81 

January 1987 Chicago Sting “Bee Lines” Newsletter

February 1987 Chicago Sting “Bee Lines” Newsletter

March 1987 Chicago Sting “Bee Lines” Newsletter

April 1987 Chicago Sting “Bee Lines” Newsletter

May 1987 Chicago Sting “Bee Lines” Newsletter

1987-88 MISL Rule Book & Schedule

 

 ==Links==

North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs

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September 18, 1984 – Chicago Sting vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

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Chicago Sting ProgramChicago Sting vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
September 18, 1984
Comiskey Park
Attendance: 5,484

North American Soccer League Programs
24 pages

 

This was one of the last games ever played by the venerable North American Soccer League (1968-1984).  Game 1 of the best-of-three Semi-Final playoff series from the NASL’s final season in 1984.

The pitiful crowd of 5,484 that turned out at Chicago’s Comiskey Park to watch the Chicago Sting take on the Vancouver Whitecaps was evidence of the decay that had taken hold of the NASL by this point. In fact, just two weeks earlier Sting owner Lee Stern announced his club’s departure from the NASL after ten seasons, committing full-time to indoor soccer and the Major Indoor Soccer League.

The match itself was tightly contested, as befit two clubs that finished with identical 13-11 records in the regular season.  The game headed into extra time knotted at 0-0 and then into a second overtime period before Whitecaps forward Carl Valentine finally put the winner past Sting goalkeeper Victor Nogueira.

The No. 1-seeded Sting recovered five days later at Vancouver’s B.C. Place, scoring a 3-1 victory to send the series back to Chicago for a deciding Game Three.  Pato Margetic scored twice to lead the Sting to a 4-3 victory and on to Soccer Bowl ’84 against the Toronto Blizzard.  The Sting won the NASL’s final Soccer Bowl in a two-game sweep.  Game 1 on October 1st, 1984 was the last outdoor soccer match the Sting ever hosted.  The game drew only 8,352 to Comiskey Park.  The NASL folded a few months later.

The Sting continued to play indoor soccer for another four seasons, before closing their doors in the summer of 1988.

 

Downloads

Chicago Sting Roster, September 18, 1984

 

Links

Chicago Sting Home Page

Vancouver Whitecaps Home Page

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Written by AC

February 9th, 2013 at 6:24 pm

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