Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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

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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.

 

==Links==

Los Angeles Lazers Home Page

Minnesota Strikers Home Page

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Written by andycrossley

September 15th, 2014 at 3:14 am

January 15, 1988 – Los Angeles Lazers vs. Baltimore Blast

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Paul ChildLos Angeles Lazers vs. Baltimore Blast
January 15, 1988
The Forum
Attendance: 5,984

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs
68 pages

 

This is a rare late-era program from the original Major Indoor Soccer League (1978-1992) featuring National Soccer Hall of Famer Paul Child on the cover.

The 1987-88 MISL season was the final year of Child’s 16-year playing career in the United States, where he excelled in both the outdoor and indoor games.  35 years old by this time and playing for his third indoor team in three winters, he finished out strong with a 40-goal camapaign for the Los Angeles Lazers.  The bulk of his indoor career was spent with the MISL’s Pittsburgh Spirit from 1981 to 1986.  The English-born Child still makes his home in the Steel City.

The best years of Child’s outdoor career were spent with the original San Jose Earthquakes of the NASL from 1974-1979.  He was one of the original Earthquakes stars and was honored with induction in the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame in November 2013.  They made this cool video:

 

==Links==

Los Angeles Lazers Home Page

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Written by andycrossley

May 4th, 2014 at 1:42 am

March 27, 1988 – Los Angeles Lazers vs. San Diego Sockers

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Chico BorjaLos Angeles Lazers vs. San Diego Sockers
March 27, 1988
The Forum
Attendance: ?

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs
68 pages

 

The Major Indoor Soccer League’s long-running Southern California rivalry in action here in this game from March of 1988.  Actually, it wasn’t much of a rivalry.  The San Diego Sockers won the MISL championship five times during the seven seasons that the Los Angeles Lazers existed.  Meanwhile, the Lazers only had one winning season in their history.

But this was that year.  The 1987-88 Lazers were pretty damn good, led by Ecuadorian forward Chico Borja, pictured on the cover of the evening’s MISSILE Magazine game program.  Borja set the Lazers’ franchise record for scoring with 47 goals and 51 assists in 54 matches.

The best indication of how strong the Keith Tozer-coached Lazers team was this year was the damage they did to the Sockers.  This was the seventh and final regular season meeting of the clubs and the Lazers ripped San Diego 8-2.  It was the Sockers’ worst loss in four years and gave Los Angeles a 4-3 series victory for the season.  The Sockers (42-14) lost only 10 other matches-to the entire rest of the league.

Borja scored a goal and an assist.  L.A.’s big star on the night was Cha Cha Namdar, a former Socker who notched two goals and added three assists.

The playoffs brought both clubs back to their traditional roles in the league.  The Lazers flopped badly, losing to the Kansas City Comets in a three-game first round sweep.  The Sockers won the championship, launching a run of five straight league titles.

After the 1987-88 season the MISL nearly folded (the Sockers went into bankruptcy, but emerged somewhat miraculously).  Lazers owner Dr. Jerry Buss hung in, but dumped many of the club’s larger salaries, including Borja who departed after a single exemplary season.

 

==Links==

Los Angeles Lazers Home Page

San Diego Sockers Home Page

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Written by andycrossley

May 4th, 2014 at 12:56 am

April 28, 1985 – Los Angeles Lazers vs. Baltimore Blast

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Los Angeles Lazers vs. Baltimore Blast
MISL Quarterfinal Playoffs, Game 3
April 28, 1985
The Forum
Attendance: 4,673

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs
60 pages

 

This is yet another pull from the huge collection of Los Angeles Lazers indoor soccer programs we picked up from a California sports museum earlier this month.  The third and final match of a best-of-five Major Indoor Soccer League quarterfinal playoff series between the Lazers and the defending champion Baltimore Blast at the Fabulous Forum.

Dave MacWilliams of the Blast was pictured on the cover of the Missile Magazine game program for this game and the choice was prophetic.  MacWilliams was the MISL’s leading American-born scorer during the 194-85 season and he netted a hat trick against the Lazers here in Game 3 to spark Baltimore to 5-4 win and a sweep of the best-of-five series.

Another notable player in this game was ,the Lazers’ 23-year old rookie goalkeeper Tim Harris, who drew the start for this win-or-go-home elimination match.  Harris was born in nearby Torrance and played collegiately at UCLA.  He earned one cap for the U.S. National Team in 1985, but he had the misfortune to come into pro soccer during a particularly grim period for the American game, just as the outdoor North American Soccer League was drawing its final breaths.  Harris played for five seasons, including three with the Lazers from 1984 to 1987.  During that time there was no national outdoor league and American players were not in demand overseas.  Indoor soccer was basically the only professional option for American players born in the early 1960’s like Harris.

The Lazers went out of business in 1989.  Several years later the club’s former owner, the late Dr. Jerry Buss, hired Harris to work in the front office for his NBA team, the Los Angeles Lakers.  Today Harris is the Chief Operating Officer of the Lakers.

 

 

==Downloads==

April 28, 1985 Baltimore Blast Roster

April 28, 1985 Los Angeles Lazers Roster

 

==Links==

Los Angeles Lazers Home Page

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Written by andycrossley

February 27th, 2014 at 12:26 am

November 20, 1983 – Los Angeles Lazers vs. Buffalo Stallions

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Los Angeles Lazers vs. Buffalo Stallions
November 20, 1983
The Forum
Attendance: 4,122

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs
52 pages

 

This 1983 MISSILE Magazine match program showed up in a large archive of pro soccer material we acquired last week from a down-sizing Los Angeles museum.  Right around the same time a woman named Elizabeth posted a fond reminiscence of the late Argentinean forward Carlos Salguero (1955-2006) on our Calgary Boomers home page.

Salguero played for Boca Juniors in the late 1970’s and then for a string of North American indoor and outdoor clubs from 1981 to 1992.  His greatest success came with the Buffalo Stallions of the Major Indoor Soccer League, where he scored 101 goals from 1981 to 1984.  He was the club’s all-time leading scorer.

In the late 1990’s Salguero returned to coach the Buffalo Blizzard of the indoor National Professional Soccer League for a single season.  He passed away from cancer at age 51 in December 2006.

I hope you enjoy this picture Elizabeth…

 

==Links==

Buffalo Stallions Home Page

Los Angeles Lazers Home Page

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Written by andycrossley

February 19th, 2014 at 12:31 am