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1978 Oakland Stompers

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Oakland StompersNorth American Soccer League (1978)

Born: September 1977 – The Connecticut Bicentennials move to Oakland.
February 22, 1979 (Edmonton Drillers)

Stadium: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (50,900)

Team Colors: Blue, Burgundy & Gold

Owner: Milan Mandaric and Bill Graham

Soccer Bowl Championships: None


The Oakland Stompers were a One-Year Wonder in the North American Soccer League during the a  spring and summer of 1978.  Club founder Milan Mandaric previously started up the NASL’s other Bay Area franchise, the popular San Jose Earthquakes, in 1974.  In late 1977 he divested himself of the Earthquakes and bought the league’s struggling Connecticut Bicentennials club and moved it across the country to the Oakland Coliseum.  It was bold move considering that many at the time wondered if the Bay Area could even support its two Major League Baseball franchises.  But the NASL was riding at a peak of investor enthusiasm in 1978 amidst the belief that pro soccer would be the Sport of the 80’s.

The Stompers identity derived from Northern California’s burgeoning wine industry.  The club’s cheerleading squad was called the “Corkpoppers”.  And the team distributed a free match day supplement called Grapevine to supplement the NASL’s KICK Magazine game programs.

The Stompers, who were ultimately unsuccessful in competition, were best known for signing iconoclast goalkeeper Shep Messing to a $100,000 contract for the 1978 season, which was then the largest contract ever offered to an American-born soccer player.

Messing was the primary goalkeeper on the New York Cosmos’ Soccer Bowl championship team in 1977.  The Harvard-educated goalkeeper was an aggressive self-promoter – he infamously posed nude for Viva magazine in 1974 – but in New York he was overshadowed by the Cosmos’ menagerie of international superstars.  Messing was also a laggard in training and seemed to view leadership as synonymous with antagonizing his head coaches early in his career.  By his own later admission, Messing struggled with technical aspects of the outdoor game, such as dealing with crosses into the box, despite his tremendous reflexes and athleticism.  The Cosmos were willing to let him go (and indeed would repeat as league champions without him in 1978).

Shep Messing SkoalIn Oakland, finally, Messing was the face of the franchise and the subject of most of the club’s national media attention. This included a lengthy profile by J.D. Reed in the July 10th, 1978 issue of Sports Illustrated  But Stompers’ General Manager Dick Berg ripped Messing in the article, noting that his star’s appetite for publicity rare extended to team functions.

“Shep is only interested in his own promotion,” Berg told Reed.  “Every time we have a ticket-selling banquet or a shopping-center promotion set up for him, he threatens to put himself on the injured list.  Chewing tobacco on network television doesn’t put fans in the seats.”

The Stompers made their debut at Oakland Coliseum on April 2, 1978 to an impressive crowd of 32,104.  Messing reportedly rejected Berg’s request to enter the stadium riding atop an elephant.  The big crowd was somewhat misleading as the Stompers were playing their Bay Area rivals, the San Jose Earthquakes.  The Associated Press noted that half of the big crowd appeared to be rooting for San Jose.  The club would never see a home crowd anywhere near that size again.  Eight of the Stompers remaining fourteen home matches at the Coliseum drew fewer than 10,000 fans.

Messing was fantastic in the Stompers’ debut.  Late in the match he stopped a penalty kick from the ‘Quakes Ilija Mitic, the NASL’s all-time leading scorer at the time, to preserve a 0-0 tie.  The NASL didn’t have ties in 1978 though, so after an uneventful 15-minute overtime period, the game was decided by the “Shootout”, which featured five players from each club attempting to score during a timed, undefended breakaway.  Messing turned away four of five shooters from the Quakes.  Rookie Andy Atuegbu, a college standout from the University of San Francisco, and Polish import Franz Smuda found the net for the Stompers in the Shootout to give the hosts a 1-0 opening day triumph.

After a 9-9 start the Stompers wilted through the back end of the 1978 campaign, finishing 12-18 and out of playoff contention.  In late March 1979, on the eve of what would have been the Stompers’ sophomore season, owner Milan Mandaric sold the team to Peter Pocklington, the owner of the Edmonton Oilers hockey team.  Pocklington moved the club to Edmonton and renamed it the Edmonton Drillers.  The Drillers played four seasons before folding in 1982.  The NASL went out of business after the 1984 season.

Mandaric owned several other unsuccessful American soccer clubs in the 1980s’ and 1990’s, mostly in the indoor leagues.  In the 2000’s, he turned his attention to Europe, where he enjoyed much greater success in ownership stints with Portsmouth, Leicester City and Sheffield Wednesday in England.

Former Stompers defender Franz Smuda later became manager of the Polish National Team from 2009 to 2012.


Oakland Stompers Memorabilia


Oakland Stompers Video

Shep Messing pimps Skoal Tobacco circa 1978:



Support Your Local Keeper!” J.D. Reed, Sports Illustrated, July 10, 1978

North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs



June 8, 1982 – New York Cosmos vs. A.C. Milan

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New York Cosmos ProgramNew York Cosmos vs. A.C. Milan
June 8, 1982
Giants Stadium
Attendance: 17,896

North American Soccer League Programs
4 pages


The New York Cosmos faced Italy’s A.C. Milan at Giants Stadium in June of 1982 as part of the club’s impressive series of international exhibitions during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  The Italians kept the pressure on throughout the evening, outshooting the New Yorkers 25-11.  But Cosmos back-up goalkeeper David Brcic was up to the task, recording a clean sheet as New York triumphed 1-0.  It was a rare outdoor appearance for Brcic, who handled most of the starting duties for the Cosmos indoor team during the wintertime, but played in only 19 matches during seven outdoor seasons with the Cosmos between 1978 and 1984.

Steve Hunt scored the lone goal for the Cosmos, beating Milan goalkeeper Ottorino Piotti in the 34th minute.

The crowd of 17,896 had to be considered disappointing for the era.  The Cosmos’ 1982 international exhibition slate at Giants Stadium also included visits from the Peruvian National Team, Nacional of Uruguay, Napoli of Italy and Flamengo of Brazil.  Only the Nacional match drew a smaller crowd than Milan.



June 8, 1982 New York Cosmos vs. A.C. Milan Program


Written by AC

October 10th, 2013 at 5:58 pm

June 9, 1971 New York Cosmos vs. Rochester Lancers

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New York Cosmos ProgramNew York Cosmos vs. Rochester Lancers
June 9, 1971
Yankee Stadium
Attendance: 2,017

North American Soccer League Programs
14 pages


Very early program from the first season of the New York Cosmos soccer club back in 1971.  This was long before the deep-pocketed club began importing World Cup stars from Europe and South America in the mid-1970’s and only 2,017 souls came out to the Bronx on this evening to watch Manhattan’s newest soccer team played the Rochester Lancers, the defending champions of the North American Soccer League.

The hero on this night was the immortal Willie Mfum, a veteran of Ghana’s 1964 Olympic team and the American 2nd division, who scored three goals on headers all within an 11-minute span of the 2nd half to power the Cosmos to a 4-2 victory over the defending champs.  1971 NASL Most Valuable Player and scoring leader Carlos Metidieri tallied for the Lancers in the 2nd half, but it was too little, too late.



June 9, 1971 New York Cosmos Game Notes 

June 9, 1971 Rochester Lancers Game Notes



Written by AC

September 5th, 2013 at 2:27 pm

May 11, 1983 – Seattle Sounders vs. New York Cosmos

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Pedro DeBrito Team AmericaSeattle Sounders vs. New York Cosmos
May 11, 1983
The Kingdome
Attendance: 10,085

North American Soccer League Programs
72 pages


This early season re-match of Soccer Bowl ’82 demonstrated just how rapidly the Seattle Sounders franchise had deteriorated under the watch of the team’s deeply unpopular new owner, Bruce Anderson.  In five short months, the former Los Angeles Rams football player had fired the club’s most successful Head Coach (Alan Hinton), changed the club’s colors, and repudiated the Sounders’ long-time commitment to English players, pursuing an “Americanization” plan that much of the Sounders’ faithful simply viewed as a cover story for budget cuts.

Only 10,085 fans showed up at the Kingdome to watch the Sounders play their staunchest rival, the New York Cosmos.  The Cosmos were the team that bested Seattle in both of their visits to the NASL’s Soccer Bowl championship game, first in 1977 and again in 1982.  The clubs’ previous matches in Seattle were big events.  58,125 turned out to see Pele when the Cosmos made their first visit to the ‘Dome in 1976.  As recently as 1980, the Sounders drew 49,606 for New York’s regular season visit.

Besides the Sounders’ management and PR debacles in 1983, the team just wasn’t very good under new Head Coach Laurie Calloway.  The Cosmos would shut them out 3-0 on this night, courtesy of second half goals from Roberto Cabanas, Vladislav Bogicevic and Giorgio Chinaglia.  It was the Sounders’ third home match of the 1983 season and they had yet to score a goal at home.

This would be the last time to Cosmos ever visited Seattle.  The once-proud Sounders continued to come apart as the season continued.  Anderson was driven out in a palace coup, but the return of the former owners Frank & Vince Coluccio wasn’t enough to right the ship.  Only one of their remaining twelve home dates drew more than 10,000 fans.  A little less than three months after this game, the Sounders went out of business on September 6, 1983 without even waiting for the NASL playoffs to conclude.



May 11, 1983 Seatte Sounders Game Notes

May 11, 1983 New York Cosmos Game Notes


June 20, 1983 – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders


Vancouver Whitecaps ProgramVancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders
June 20, 1983
BC Place
Attendance: 60,342

North American Soccer League Programs
64 pages


Five matches into the 1983 North American Soccer League season, the Vancouver Whitecaps moved out of their long-time home at Empire Stadium into the brand new $126 million BC Place stadium.  The Whitecaps would be one of two anchor tenants, along with the Lions of the Canadian Football League.   Multi-purpose stadia were in vogue at the time and officials hoped the 60,000 seat dome might attract Major League Baseball to Vancouver as well.

The Whitecaps hosted the Seattle Sounders in the first sporting event at BC Place on June 20th, 1983.  The festivities attracted 60,342 fans – on a Monday night, no less – which set an all-time Canadian pro soccer attendance record which stood for nearly three decades.

The star of the match was the Whitecaps’ 22-year old English striker Peter Beardsley.  Beardsley was a peculiarity among NASL players.  A young import who would go on to his greatest success after a few early seasons of seasoning in North America.  The NASL was always heavy on British imports, but most were in their late 20’s to late 30’s with their best days behind them.  Guys like former Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Corrigan of the Seattle Sounders, who Beardsley beat for both Vancouver goals on this night, including the game-winner in the 68th minute.   The ‘Caps won the match 2-1.

In late 1983, BC Place hosted both the NASL’s Soccer Bowl championship match and the CFL’s Grey Cup title game.  Soccer Bowl ’83 attracted more than 53,000 fans despite the fact that the Whitecaps didn’t make the final.  Nevertheless, the move from Empire Stadium to BC Place ushered in rough times for the ‘Caps.  Just one year after the move, the team was on the verge of financial collapse and nearly folded without finishing the 1984 NASL season.  They made it through, but it was a moot point when the entire league folded the following winter.

Peter Beardsley went back to England after the 1983 season and starred for Newcastle United, Liverpool and Everton over the next 15 seasons.  He also earned 59 caps for the English National Team.  Beardsley was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2007.

On May 12, 2012 the Montreal Impact of Major League Soccer broke the Whitecaps’ 29-year old Canadian attendance record.  60,860 fans turned out at Olympic Stadium to watch the Impact draw David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy.






6-20-1983 Seattle Sounders Roster



Written by AC

July 10th, 2013 at 3:05 am


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