Born: September 1989 – WSL expansion franchise.
Died: July 5, 1991 – The Sting fold in midseason.
Stadium: Derks Field
Team Colors: Green & Blue
- 1990:Jack Donovan, et al.
- 1991: Mike Silva et al.
- 1991: American Professional Soccer League
The Salt Lake Sting were a professional club that enjoyed a short, strange ride for parts of two seasons in the early 1990’s. The Sting were formed as an expansion team in the Western Soccer League in September 1989. Club founder Jack Donovan and his partners were a subset of the ownership group of the Salt Lake Trappers of minor league baseball. (Although the Sting group did not include the Trappers’ most famous part-owner – actor Bill Murray). The Sting shared 40-year old Derks Field with the Trappers, with the soccer pitch awkwardly stretched across the outfield and portions of the dirt infield.
At the same time that the Sting joined the Western Soccer League in late 1989, the WSL began the process of merging with the East Coast-based American Soccer League to form the American Professional Soccer League (APSL). During the 1990 season, the Sting were considered to be part of the Western Soccer League, which was also the West Conference of the APSL.
Under Head Coach Laurie Calloway, the Sting put a competitive team on the field, earning a playoff visit with a 12-8 record. George Pastor finished 2nd in scoring in the 22-team APSL with 14 goals and 9 assists. Sting teammate Derek Sanderson was fifth with 11 goals and 6 assists. Salt Lake’s season-long nemesis, the Colorado Foxes, eliminated the Sting in the playoff quarterfinals 2 games to 0.
The Sting packed the stands at Derks Field in 1990, setting a WSL single-game attendance record of 9,406 fans for their home opener in April. For the season, the Sting established another league attendance record, with nearly 54,000 fans for 10 home dates.
Despite the big numbers, Donovan and his partners lost money on the Sting and decided to unload the club in December 1990. That marked the beginning of the end. When no buyer came forward, the Sting were reorganized as a non-profit foundation led by Mike Silva, meant to operate the club on an interim basis until new investors could be found. The Sting Foundation solicited corporate sponsors to underwrite the team, but the sponsors were reluctant to follow through on their pledges after they watched the team’s attendance collapse dramatically from the heights of 1990. Fewer than 1,000 fans showed for a rainy 1991 home opener. Two weeks into the 1991 season, Silva’s foundation was out of cash and the APSL was forced to step in and meet payroll.
Meanwhile Laurie Calloway departed after the 1990 season and was replaced as head coach by Soviet émigré Valery Volostnykh. Top scorers Pastor and Sanderson returned, but the Sting couldn’t find their form on the field either. The Sting’s record was 3-7 on July 5th, 1991 when the APSL grew tired of funding the rudderless franchise and shut it down in midseason. The club’s final ten matches were recorded as forfeits and the team officially finished deep in last place with a 3-17 record.
==Salt Lake Sting Matches on Fun While It Lasted==
|1990||8/11/1990||@ San Francisco Bay Blackhawks||??||Program|