Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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May 27, 1984 – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Ajax

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Vancouver Whitecaps vs. AjaxVancouver Whitecaps vs. Ajax (Holland)
May 27, 1984
BC Place
Attendance: 12,509

North American Soccer League Programs
28 pages


A late era international friendly between the original Vancouver Whitecaps of the North American Soccer League (1968-1984) and Holland’s mighty Ajax.   The two clubs met once before in 1981, when the Dutchmen blanked the Whitecaps 4-0 in Amsterdam.

Ajax was wrapping up a brief three-city tour of the NASL that included previous victories over the Toronto Blizzard (1-0) and the Minnesota Strikers (4-2).  The Whitecaps were wrapping up an 11-year run in the NASL.  Both the club and the league were in bad shape by this point.  Just one week following this match, Whitecaps majority owner Bob Carter announced the club was in financial crisis and its existence was day to day.  Vancouver Mayor Michael Harcourt launched a Save The Whitecaps campaign, which fell far short of its targets.  The Whitecaps survived the season thanks only to a seven-figure cash infusion from Carter and his partners in mid-June 1984.

Ajax got the best of it in this match, winning 2-1 thanks to a 75th minute header from substitute Vilco Van Durer.

The Whitecaps, by the way, had a couple of terrific Dutch imports over the years, including long-time Dutch National Team and Ajax defender Rudi Krol and midfielder Frans Thijssen, who was a 1st Team All-NASL performer in 1983 and 1984 and was pictured on the cover of the evening’s match program (above right).



More NASL International Friendlies


Written by AC

June 25th, 2013 at 1:39 am

August 16, 1983 – Toronto Blizzard vs. New York Cosmos

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Roberto Bettega Toronto BlizzardToronto Blizzard vs. New York Cosmos
August 16, 1983
Exhibition Stadium
Attendance: 11,428

North American Soccer League Programs
16 pages


That’s 32-year old Italian striker Roberto Bettega on the cover of this August 1983 Toronto Blizzard match program.  Bettega was perhaps the last legitimate European star to sign with the league, joining Toronto in May 1983.  By that time, the North American Soccer League was on its last legs, halved from 24 members clubs in 1980 to only 12 survivors by the start of the 1983 campaign.

Bettega played fifteen seasons for Juventus (1969-1983), helping his hometown club to seven Serie A titles and the 1977 UEFA Cup.  He also played for Italy in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.  Just six nights before this match, Bettega’s former teammates traveled to Toronto for a friendly against the Blizzard at Exhibition Stadium.  Juventus brought seven veterans of Italy’s 1982 World Cup championship team to Toronto, including superstar Paolo Rossi.  (Bettega himself missed the 1982 World Cup due to injury).  The match drew 41,035 to Exhibition Stadium – the largest crowd ever to watch a soccer game in Toronto.  The Blizzard held the powerful Italian squad to a surprising 0-0 draw.


By contrast, the Blizzard’s return to NASL regular season action six nights later against the New York Cosmos was kind of a buzz kill.  The Cosmos were known for signing the biggest superstars in the world in the late 1970’s and they were accustomed to drawing large crowds wherever they traveled.  But by 1983, the Cosmos were deep into cost-cutting mode and it had been years since they imported a major international superstar.

A modest crowd of 11,428 showed up for a match that New York’s long-time beat writer Ike Kuhns described as “one of the dullest” of the 1983 season.  Toronto had trouble scoring all season and were playing without leading goal scorer David Byrne due to yellow card accumulation.  New York fared little better and the match went into overtime knotted at 0-0, before New York’s Steve Moyers put an apparently merciful end to the proceedings with a sudden death goal.

The notorious artificial turf surface at Exhibition Stadium was as poorly reviewed as the match itself.

“The field is just awful,” Cosmos midfielder Rick Davis told Ike Kuhns afterwards. “I still say the best thing they can do here is put up walls and play squash on it.”*



8-16-1983 Toronto Blizzard Game Notes

8-16-1983 New York Cosmos Game Notes


==*Additional Sources==

“Moyers’ OT Goal Boots Cosmos By Blizzard, 1-0”, Ike Kuhns, The Newark Star-Ledger, August 17, 1983.


Written by AC

May 10th, 2013 at 12:31 pm

July 22, 1984 – New York Cosmos vs. World All-Stars

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New York Cosmos vs. World All-Stars
July 22, 1984
Giants Stadium
Attendance: 37,318

North American Soccer League Programs
8 pages


From the 1970’s through their demise in 1985, the New York Cosmos always played a great parallel schedule of international exhibitions alongside their regular commitments in the North American Soccer League.  In fact, even their final forlorn appearances at Giants Stadium in the summer of 1985 were against imported European opponents.

The Cosmos’ vast number of international friendlies pose a challenging quest for collectors, whether it’s the search for rare match programs or bootleg videos.  And we ship them all over the world through our store – this one, a deathbed friendly from July 1984 between the struggling post-Time Warner Cosmos and a collection of  “World All-Stars” – was bought by a collector in Germany today, so I figured I’d write it up before it’s gone.

The Cosmos were built on star power during the Time Warner years, but they’d pretty much run out of stars by 1984.  For the first time since Pele’s arrival in 1975, their lineup was basically indistinguishable from ho-hum NASL clubs like the Minnesota Strikers or the Tulsa Roughnecks.  Franz Beckenbauer and Giorgio Chinaglia had retired the previous year.  Their biggest remaining names were guys like Vladislav Bogicevic of Yugoslavia and Johan Neeskens of Holland (who would score the Cosmos’ only goal of this night, on a penalty).

In fact, the visiting World All-Stars had more Cosmos star power than the Cosmos did.  The All-Stars featured the 38-year old Beckenbauer (who played the full 90) and the Cosmos’ former American phenom Ricky Davis.  The fact that Davis could now make more money playing indoor soccer for the St. Louis Steamers showed how far the outdoor game (and the Cosmos) had slipped in America by the mid-1980’s.  The All-Stars coach was Professor Julio Mazzei, a friend of Pele and Zelig-type figure for the Cosmos, who coached the team intermittently, including leading the club to their final Soccer Bowl title in 1982.

The rest of the World All-Stars?  Well, they were pretty damn legit.  The line-up included:

  • Two-time European Football-of-the-Year Kevin Keegan
  • 1978 Argentine World Cup hero Mario Kempes
  • Former Ajax & Dutch National Team defender Rudi Krol
  • Mexican striker Hugo Sanchez
  • English National Team stalwart goalkeeper Peter Shilton

French legend Michel Platini was pictured in the All-Stars publicity photo (above left), but does not appear to have been part of the game.  The All-Stars dominated the Cosmos 3-1 before a crowd of 37,318, the Cosmos’ second largest of the year at Giants Stadium.

For the rest of the All-Stars & Cosmos’ rosters, download the original Game Notes & Rosters here.





June 1984 New York Cosmos vs. World All-Stars Fan Ballot

July 22, 1984 New York Cosmos vs. World All-Stars Game Notes

1984 New York Cosmos vs. World All-Stars Event Itinerary


Written by AC

March 14th, 2013 at 1:17 am

April 4, 1982 – New York Cosmos vs. National Team of Peru

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New York Cosmos vs. National Team of Peru
April 4, 1982
Giants Stadium
Attendance: 37,408

North American Soccer League Programs
4 pages


This April 1982 international friendly against the National Team of Peru was the New York Cosmos‘ final preseason tune-up before kicking off the 1982 North American Soccer League season five nights later.  It was also the Cosmos’ Giants Stadium debut of 1982, after playing seven exhibition matches at the club’s training camp home in Freeport, Bahamas and in invitational tournaments along the West Coast.

A solid crowd of 37,408 awaited the team in East Rutherford, althoughthe majority seemed to be there to cheer for the Peruvians.  The match was also a tune-up for Peru, one of 24 finalists for the 1982 World Cup later that summer.  Flag-waving Peruvian supporters turned Giants Stadium into “Lima North”, as long-time Cosmos beat writer Ike Kuhns of The Newark Star-Ledger put it in his column the following day.

The extreme chill (34 degrees Fahrenheit with 40 MPH wind gusts) and the artificial turf conspired to frustrate the Peruvians.  The Cosmos got a pair of goals each from Giorgio Chinaglia and Julio Cesar Romero, plus a garbage time goal from Steve Moyers to rout the South Americans 5-1.  (Julio Cesar Uribe converted a first half PK for Peru’s only score).

The game was also unusually chippy for an international friendly.  Three red card ejections meant Peru played the final 20 minutes of the match with a 10 men to 9 advantage.  Johan Neeskens was sent off in the first half after retaliating for Peruvian cheap shot on Romero.  Jeff Durgan and Peru’s Jose Velasquez were tossed for fighting in the 68th minute.

This match also marked the return of former Brazilian World Cup captain Carlos Alberto to Giants Stadium after a one year absence.  One of the world superstars who catapulted the Cosmos to fame in the late 1970’s, Alberto spent the 1981 season in exile, playing to acres of empty seats at Anaheim Stadiumfor the NASL’s woeful California Surf club.  He returned to New York in after the Surf disbanded and finished his distinguished career with the Cosmos that summer of 1982.

The match was reportedly broadcast throughout South America and the Cosmos chose to feature three South Americans in their starting XI: Alberto of Brazil, Romero of Paraguay and Chico Borja of Ecuador.



1982 New York Cosmos vs. National Team of Peru Game Notes



More NASL International Friendlies


==Additional Sources==

“Tempers Erupt, Three Ejected as Cosmos Throttle Peru, 5-1”, Ike Kuhns, The Newark-Star Ledger, April 5, 1982

“Cosmos Defeat Peru in Rough Game, 5-1”, Alex Yannis, The New York Times, April 5, 1982



June 20, 1979 – Minnesota Kicks vs. New York Cosmos

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Franz Beckenbauer New York CosmosMinnesota Kicks vs. New York Cosmos
June 20, 1979
Metropolitan Stadium
Attendance: 43,952

North American Soccer League Programs
124 pages


The annual derbies between the Minnesota Kicks and the New York Cosmos always drew big crowds during the late 1970’s, whether the match was played in New Jersey or in Minneapolis.  This June 20, 1979 match at Metropolitan Stadium was the sixth meeting between the two clubs since the Kicks debuted in 1976 and the first five matches averaged 47,082 fans.

The Cosmos were 5-1 all-time against the Kicks coming into this game.  The Kicks only victory came during a truly bizarre 1978 playoff series between the two clubs the previous summer.  The Kicks shocked the Cosmos 9-2 in Minneapolis in Game One of the series behind five goals from their star forward Alan Willey.  Moving back to New York, the Cosmos returned the favor with a 4-0 drubbing.  That led to a “mini-game” to settle the series, also taken by the Cosmos.

By 1979, Kicks crowds were starting to decline substantially.  In fact, the club would be out of business within two years.  But Minnesotans would still turn out to see the Cosmos.  Despite pre-game thunderstorms, a season-high crowd of 43,952 turned to watch the two short-handed clubs go at each other.  The Kicks were without their second leading scorer Ron Futcher due to a red card suspension and injured South African playmaker Ace Ntsoelengoe. The Cosmos lacked superstar sweeper Franz Beckenbauer (pictured on the evening’s game program, above) who was recuperating from knee surgery.  But the match still featured the two leading scorers in the NASL at the time: Giorgio Chinaglia of the Cosmos and Minnesota’s Alan Willey.

Mark Liveric opened the scoring for the Cosmos in the 26th minute putting a half volley past Kicks goalkeeper Tino Lettieri.  New York took the 1-0 lead into halftime.  But Cosmos goalkeeper Jack Brand had a rough go of it to open the second half.  Kicks defender Steve Litt outjumped Brand to head in a corner kick in the 46th minute.  It was the English defender’s first goal in 47 games.  Six minutes later, Brand misplayed a long cross from Willie Morgan, allowing midfielder Alan West to put in the go-ahead goal for a 2-1 Kicks lead.  The Cosmos pulled Brand, replacing him with the young and seldom-used American David Brcic.  Brcic conceded the Kicks’ third goal of the second half to Willey.  A late score from Chinaglia made it close, but the Kicks emerged with a 3-2 victory and their first even regular season win against mighty New York.  Paired with a road loss in Vancouver four nights earlier, the defeat marked the first time in two years the Cosmos lost two consecutive matches.

“We proved they are not immortal”, Minnesota coach Roy McCrohan told the press after the match.



June 20th, 1979 Minnesota Kicks Game Notes



“Kicks boot Cosmos, 3-2”, Ike Kuhns, The Newark Star-Ledger, June 21, 1979


Written by AC

February 20th, 2013 at 6:51 pm


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