Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Pele’ tag

July 11, 1975 – Philadelphia Atoms vs. San Antonio Thunder


Pele New York CosmosPhiladelphia Atoms vs. San Antonio Thunder
July 11, 1975
Veterans Stadium
Attendance: 4,012

North American Soccer League Programs
54 Pages


1975 was the year that Pele came to New York, signing the ground-breaking 3-year, $7 million deal with the New York Cosmos that changed the trajectory of soccer in America. 1975 was also the year that the eight-year old North American Soccer League introduced KICK Magazine, the stylish national magazine format that virtually all NASL clubs would use as their matchday programs until the league’s demise in 1984.

No player graced the cover of KICK more often than the King of Football over the years.  This July 1975 edition (above right) marked Pele’s first KICK cover appearance, syndicated in cities across the league after his landmark signing on June 3rd, 1975. In this case a lightly attended contest at Philly’s Veterans Stadium between the Philadelphia Atoms and an expansion side from San Antonio.

The Atoms arguably enjoyed a brief, low-key run as the NASL’s model club after coming into the league as an expansion franchise in 1973.  The Atoms won the NASL championship that first year, led the league in attendance, and seemed to have developed an American-born star in goalkeeper Bob Rigby.  Rigby and the Atoms appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in September 1973. It was the first time the NASL had earned the cover of the nation’s top sports weekly.

Whatever claim to flagship franchise status the Atoms may have held came to a definitive end when the Cosmos signed Pele two months into the 1975 season. The Atoms on-field fortunes were in decline and box office at The Vet was down around 40% from 1974.  As luck would have it, the Atoms were due to host the Cosmos on June 10, 1975, just a few days after Pele signed.  As Philly soccer historian Steve Holroyd noted, the Atoms drew a season high 20,124 to The Vet “for the privilege of seeing Pele in street clothes!

It was a last hurrah.  Founding owner Tom McCloskey bailed on the Atoms a few months later and the team fell into the hands of Mexican club owners from Guadalajara who presided over a final grim campaign in 1976.  By 1977 the Atoms were out of business. The Cosmos, meanwhile, opened Giants Stadium that summer and would win Soccer Bowl ’77 in Pele’s final pro campaign, playing to crowds of over 70,000 by season’s end.



==Pele & Kick Magazine==



San Antonio Thunder Home Page


Written by AC

August 24th, 2015 at 2:12 am

August 6, 1977 – Washington Diplomats vs. New York Cosmos

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Pele New York Cosmos 1977Washington Diplomats vs. New York Cosmos
August 6, 1977
RFK Stadium
Attendance: 31,283

North American Soccer League Programs
60 pages


The mighty Pele’s professional soccer farewell tour got ugly when the New York Cosmos pulled into the nation’s capital for the regular season finale of the 1977 North American Soccer League season.

The game itself was meaningless.  The Cosmos were in the playoffs and the host Washington Diplomats were already assured of a last place finish.  But the table for a contentious match was set two weeks earlier when the Cosmos embarrassed the Diplomats 8-2 at Giants Stadium.  After that game, Cosmos forward Steve Hunt told reporters the Dips were “the worst team we’ve come across so far”.  Washington defender Jim Steele fired back in The Washington Post, promising that the Dips would “take care of Hunt” in the rematch.

The chance to see Pele’s final regular season performance drew a large crowd of 31,283 to RFK Stadium.  Cosmos manager Eddie Firmani quickly disappointed them by holding out five of his starters, including superstars Franz Beckenbauer and Giorgio Chinaglia and #1 goalkeeper Shep Messing, out of the lineup.  After the match, Firmani cited the Dips’ feisty comments in the press for the benchings, claiming “I had to protect my players”.  Diplomats President Steve Danzansky, looking out at the second largest soccer crowd in Washington’s history, was enraged and grumbled to the press about filing a protest with the league.

1977 Washington DiplomatsMore likely, Firmani was resting his stars for the playoffs, since he left the one player that the Dips really wanted a piece of – Steve Hunt – in the starting line-up.  The match was chippy from the start, according to Post scribe John Feinstein, with several Dips going after Hunt in the first half.  English forward Jimmy Redfern staked the lowly Dips to a surprising 2-0 lead with a brace in the first half.

Pele cut the Washington lead in half by converting a penalty in the 36th minute.  Just before the half, the teams tussled in the Washington end after a hard foul by Dips defender Alex Pringle.  Hunt went after Pringle.  Pele jumped into the mix as well, laying out Washingtos Mike Lester with a left hook.  Pele managed to avoid ejection from his last regular season match, but Hunt and Pringle were tossed, as was Dips defender Ray Willner, carded for kicking a Cosmos player.

After the fracas, the Dips had to defend their 2-1 lead while playing a man down for the second half.  Washington goalkeeper Eric Martin was spectacular, making 11 saves including numerous point-blank shots by the New Yorkers.

The feisty match salvaged some pride for the Diplomats, who were done for the season.  Three weeks later, the Cosmos defeated the Seattle Sounders 2-1 to win Soccer Bowl ’77 in Pele’s final competitive game.



8-6-1977 Washington Diplomats vs. New York Cosmos Game Notes

1977 “Dips Tips” Soccer Brochure

1977 Washington Diplomats Media Guide Late Additions

Article Sources



New York Cosmos Home Page



Written by AC

April 24th, 2013 at 7:24 pm

August 13, 1977 – Rochester Lancers vs. Toronto Metros-Croatia

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1977 Rochester Lancers PlayoffsRochester Lancers vs. Toronto Metros-Croatia
North American Soccer League quarterfinal playoffs
August 13, 1977
Holleder Stadium
Attendance: 10,556

North American Soccer League Programs
52 pages


Great cover photo of the might Pele from the final season of his storied career with the New York Cosmos in 1977.  This edition of KICK Magazine was sold throughout the North American Soccer League during the early playoff rounds of the 1977 season, a fitting send off to the retiring King of Football.

This particular match was a quarterfinal joust between the defending Soccer Bowl champions, Toronto Metros-Croatia, and the Rochester Lancers.  The Lancers hosted Game One of the two-game series, with the finale set for Varsity Stadium in Toronto three nights later.  It was a wild series.

Pele 1977The first game in Rochester finished scoreless and went to the NASL’s unusual method for settling ties – the shootout.  The Lancers won the shootout to take a one-game lead.  Meanwhile, the injury-riddled Toronto squad filed a protest with NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam.  During regulation time the match officials issued two-yellow cards to Rochester’s Francisco Escos but neglected to send him off from the game.  The Lancers should have been forced to play a man down, but continued to play at full strength.  Woosnam acknowledged the mistake but refused to overturn the result.

Three nights later in Toronto, the Lancers did have to play short-handed.  They lost two men to red cards for fighting in the first half.  Despite playing two men down for the entire second half, the Lancers tallied the game’s only goal on a breakaway by Portuguese midfielder Ibraim Silva with fourteen minutes left to eliminate the defending champs.



Rochester Lancers Home Page

Toronto Metros-Croatia Home Page



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