Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Miami’ tag

1998-2001 Miami Fusion

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Major League Soccer (1998-2001)

Born: April 9, 1997 – MLS expansion franchise
Folded: January 8, 2002

Stadium: Lockhart Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner: Ken Horowitz

MLS Cup Championships: None

 

The Miami Fusion were Major League Soccer’s early misfire in the South Florida market. Cellular One founder Ken Horowitz paid a $20 million expansion fee for the club in the spring of 1997. He paid an additional $5 million to renovate Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium into a 20,000-seat soccer-specific venue. The club began play in 1998 with Colombian National Team captain Carlos Valderrama as its top drawing card.

The Fusion stumbled through three losing campaigns. Attendance bottomed out at a league-worst 7,460 per game game in 2000 and the team struggled to attract any corporate sponsorship interest. MLS, which controls all players contracts at the league level, returned the unhappy Valderrama to his original MLS club, the Tampa Bay Mutiny, early in the 1999 season. The Fusion received nothing in return for their top player.

The Fusion’s fortunes revived with the hiring of charismatic former Fort Lauderdale Strikers star Ray Hudson as manager midway through the 2000 season. Hudson and Fusion General Manager Doug Hamilton put a thrilling team on the field in 2001. Newly acquired midfielder Preki dished out assists to forwards Alex Pineda Chacon and Diego Serna, who finished 1-2 in MLS in scoring. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando and fullbacks Carlos Llamosa and Pablo Mastroeni anchored the stout defense. The Fusion earned Major League Soccer’ Supporters Shield with a league best regular season record of 16-5-5. Hudson’s squad was upset by the San Jose Earthquakes in the playoff semi-finals.

Though the Fusion’s attendance rose nearly 4,000 fans during the 2001 campaign, the franchise still ranked at the bottom of MLS in team revenues. Team owner Horowitz grew exhausted with the team’s losses. Major League Soccer contracted the Fusion, along with the similarly trouble Tampa Bay Mutiny club, on January 8th, 2002.

 

Miami Fusion Memorabilia

 

Miami Fusion Video

 

In Memoriam

Former Fusion General Manager Doug Hamilton passed away March 9, 2006. Hamilton was General Manager of the Los Angeles Galaxy at the time and on a flight with the team when he suffered a fatal heart attack. He was just 43.

 

Downloads

June 7, 1998 Miami Fusion vs. MetroStars Game Notes

 

Links

Major League Soccer Media Guides

Major League Soccer Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

March 4th, 2017 at 5:19 am

1973-1976 Miami Toros

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Miami Toros ProgramNorth American Soccer League (1973-1976)

Born: 1973 – The Miami Gatos re-brand as the Miami Toros
Moved: 1977 (Fort Lauderdale Strikers)

Stadium: The Orange Bowl (80,010)

Team Colors: Maroon & White

Owners: Angel Lorie, James Billings, Harper Sibley and Elizabeth Robbie, et al.

NASL Championships: None

 

Text coming soon…

 

Miami Toros Memorabilia

 

Links

North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

September 7th, 2016 at 2:07 am

1990-1992 Miami Freedom

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Miami Freedom ProgramAmerican Professional Soccer League (1990-1992)

Born: 1990
Folded: September 1992

Stadium: The Orange Bowl (75,000)

Team Colors: Orange & Green

Owners:

 

The Miami Freedom soccer club was an undistinguished entry in the American Professional Soccer League from 1990 to 1992.  At the time, the APSL represented the highest level of professional soccer in the United States, although it was a far cry from today’s Major League Soccer.  The Freedom, playing in one of the nation’s most apathetic pro sports markets, averaged fewer than 1,000 fans per match in Miami’s 75,000-seat Orange Bowl during their first season in 1990.

Throughout their three-year existence the Freedom had a local APSL rival in the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.  The Strikers commanded considerably more loyalty and attention among Miami’s soccer community due to the legacy of the Strikers name from the North American Soccer League days (1977-1983) and their superior soccer venue at Lockhart Stadium.  At the end of the 1992 season, Freedom owner Amancio Suarez decided that the Strikers were the far more desirable property.  He folded the Freedom in September 1992 and bought controlling interest in the Strikers instead.

 

==Miami Freedom Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other

1990

1990 5/5/1990 @ Fort Lauderdale Strikers ?? Program
1990 6/3/1990 @ New Jersey Eagles L 4-1 Program Game Notes

1991

1991 6/12/1991 vs. Millonarios (Colombia) L 5-0 Program
1991 8/17/1991 vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers ?? Program

1992

1992 8/4/1992 @ Tampa Bay Rowdies L 4-2 Program

 

==Downloads==

June 3, 1990 Miami Freedom Roster 

 

==Links==

American Soccer League Media Guides

American Soccer League Programs

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Written by AC

November 9th, 2013 at 10:21 pm

1985-1991 – Miami Beach Breakers / South Florida Breakers

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World TeamTennis (1985-1991)

Born: 1985 – TeamTennis expansion franchise
Folded: 1991

Stadiums:

  • 1985-1987: Abel Holtz Stadium (5,100)
  • 1986: Boca Grove Plantation
  • 1988: Deer Creek Country Club (as South Florida Breakers)
  • 1989: Wellington Club West (as Wellington Aces)
  • 1990: Abel Holtz Stadium
  • 1991: Turnberry Country Club

Team Colors: Light Blue & Pink

Owners: 

 

The Miami Beach Breakers opened for business in 1985 as an expansion club in Billie Jean King’s TeamTennis promotion under the patronage of Abel Holtz and his family.  Holtz was a Cuban exile banker and philanthropist who built a 5,000-seat tennis stadium for the City of Miami Beach in 1983 that bore his name.  Holtz’s son Javier ran the club and originally clad the team in light blue and pink, “Miami Vice colors” as the younger Holtz explained to The Sun Sentinel shortly after the team’s formation.

TeamTennis wasn’t a particularly desirable destination for pro tour players at the time.  The low budget league offered no base pay, with the league’s 32 players (two men and two women per team for eight member clubs) competing for a $400,000 bonus pool.  The Breakers landed the league’s biggest name by drafting the 15-year old Argentinean sensation Gabriella Sabatini and hiring Sabatini’s coach, Patricio Apey as the team’s coach.  The Breakers’ other female player would be Mercedes Paz, another Argentinean coached by Apey.  But with Sabatini’s star rising by the month, Apey announced that her young protégé would only appear in select TeamTennis matches during the season while continuing to compete in more lucrative and prestigious tour events.  Billie Jean King said the commitment to TeamTennis was all or nothing and kicked Sabatini off the Miami Beach roster, which also cost the Breakers’ the services of Apey and Paz two days before the team’s first season began.

The Breakers returned in 1986 with a few big names for the first and only time in their history.  Romanian legend Ilie Nastase hired on as player-coach and Rosie Casals and Tim Gullikson offered some name appeal for South Florida tennis aficionados.

The Breakers averaged fewer than 1,000 fans per match in Miami Beach in both 1985 and 1986.  The Holtz family sold the team after the 1987 season, which coincided with a complicated series of moves, name changes and franchise shifts under new owner Carl Foster.  Foster first moved the team to Deerfield Beach in 1988, renaming the team the “South Florida Breakers“.  In 1989, Foster moved north again, this time to Wellington and the team became known as the Wellington Aces.  TeamTennis returned to Miami Beach and Abel Holtz Stadium in 1990 with a new team known as the Breakers, even as the Wellington Aces continued to exist.

As I write this, I can’t imagine anyone would remotely care about these distinctions.  Anyway, it ceased to matter at the end of the 1991 season when both the Aces and Breakers franchises went out of business.

 

==Links==

World Team Tennis Media Guides

World Team Tennis Programs

 

==Additional Sources==

“Breakers May Leave Miami Beach”, Alain Poupart, The Miami News, August 4, 1986

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August 25, 1974 – NASL Championship Game – Miami Toros vs. Los Angeles Aztecs

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Miami Toros vs. Los Angeles Aztecs
NASL Championship Game
August 25, 1974
The Orange Bowl
Attendance: 15,507

North American Soccer League Programs
42 pages

 

CBS television carried the 1974 North American Soccer League championship game live from Miami’s sweltering Orange Bowl at 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon in late August.  It marked the first national broadcast of a pro soccer match in the United States since 1968 and NASL executives were no doubt relieved when the expansion Los Angeles Aztecs and the host Miami Toros delivered a high scoring thriller of a contest.

The Toros took leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2, but Los Angeles fought back each time.  The Aztecs’ final equalizer came with just two minutes remaining, when the league’s 1974 Rookie-of-the-Year Doug McMillan knocked in a goal to tie the match at 3-3.

Doug McMillan’s late strike sent the match into a penalty kick shootout to determine the league champion. (There was no intervening overtime period).  The tiebreaker shootout was a new rule innovation for the NASL in 1974 and it was not met with universal acclaim.  United Press International reported that the Orange Bowl crowd booed at the end of regulation when the stadium announcer explained the tiebreaker procedure.  Dan Levin, covering the match for Sports Illustrated, mocked the proceedings: “It was as if the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks had finished game seven at 103-103 and then had all headed to the foul line for a free throw contest.”

The Miami Toros advanced to the championship match thanks in part to their mastery of the tiebreaker.  The Toros were 6-0 during the regular season in penalty kick shootouts.  But on this afternoon, the Aztecs got the best of it, converting all five of their penalty kicks.  Miami’s fate was sealed when Roger Verdi skied the Toros’ fourth kick over the crossbar.  22-year old Aztecs midfielder Tony Douglas then converted L.A.’s fifth kick to clinch the NASL title for the expansion team.

Attendance for the match was a considerable disappointment.  NASL promoters papered Miami with 300,000 discount ticket coupons, but only 15,507 showed for the game.  Coincidentally or not, the NASL introduced its “Soccer Bowl” concept – modeled on the NFL’s Super Bowl – the following season.  From 1975 to 1983 the NASL championship match was held at a neutral site determined months in advance with a full season of promotional lead time.

 

==Links==

The Penalty For Success – Dan Levin’s game coverage for Sports Illustrated

Los Angeles Aztecs Home Page

 

==Downloads==

8-25-1974 Los Angeles Aztecs NASL Championship Game Roster

8-25-1974 Miami Toros NASL Championship Game Roster

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Written by AC

June 23rd, 2013 at 10:34 pm