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Archive for the ‘St. Louis Steamers 1979-1988’ tag

1979-1988 St. Louis Steamers

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Carl Rose St. Louis SteamersMajor Indoor Soccer League (1979-1988)

Born: July 31, 1979 – MISL expansion franchise.
Died: June 22, 1988 – The MISL terminates the Steamers franchise.

Arena: The Checkerdome / St. Louis Arena

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

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==Slideshow==

 

 

==St. Louis Steamers Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other

1980-81

1980-81 12/6/1980 @ Hartford Hellions W 3-2 Program
1980-81 3/29/1981 vs. New York Arrows L 6-5 Program

1981-82

1981-82 3/19/1982 @ Buffalo Stallions L 6-2 Program

1982-83

1982-83 1/24/1983 @ Los Angeles Lazers  W 8-3 Program
1982-83 3/30/1983 @ Los Angeles Lazers  L 7-5 Program

1983-84

1983-84 1/6/1984 @ Cleveland Force W 5-2 Program
1983-84 1/21/1984 @ Los Angeles Lazers  W 4-3 Program
1983-84 2/25/1984 @ Los Angeles Lazers  L 8-2 Program
1983-84 4/16/1984 @ Los Angeles Lazers ?? Program

1984-85

1984-85 12/19/1984 @ Los Angeles Lazers  L 9-4 Program
1984-85 1/11/1985 @ Los Angeles Lazers  L 7-5 Program

1985-86

1985-86 10/26/1985 @ Chicago Sting W 5-3 Program
1985-86 12/3/1985 @ Wichita Wings L 4-3 Program Video
1985-86 12/6/1985 vs. Wichita Wings ?? Program
1985-86 1/9/1986 @ Los Angeles Lazers  L 4-2 Program
1985-86 2/11/1986 @ Wichita Wings W 4-2 Program
1985-86 3/4/1986 @ Los Angeles Lazers  W 9-6 Program
1985-86 3/13/1986 @ Dallas Sidekicks L 7-1 Program
1985-86 3/27/1986 @ Los Angeles Lazers  W 7-5 Program

1986-87

1986-87 1/16/1987 @ Los Angeles Lazers  L 4-1 Program
1986-87 3/17/1987 @ Los Angeles Lazers  L 6-2 Program
1986-87 4/30/1987 @ Los Angeles Lazers  W 3-2 Program

1987-88

1987-88 11/20/1987 @ Chicago Sting L 6-5 (OT) Program
1987-88 1/3/1988 @ Los Angeles Lazers ?? Program
1987-88 1/24/1988 @ Los Angeles Lazers L 3-2 Program
1987-88 4/6/1988 @ Los Angeles Lazers L 6-5 (OT) Program
1987-88 4/16/1988 @ Chicago Sting W 4-3 (OT) Program

 

==In Memoriam==

Steamers goalkeeper Slobo Ilijevski (1980-1988) died of a ruptured aorta during an amateur soccer game on July 14, 2008. He was 58 years old.

Ian Anderson (Steamers ’82-’83) passed away November 5, 2008 at age 54 in Scotland.

 

==YouTube==

1984-85 St. Louis Steamers promo video:

 

Chicago Sting vs. St. Louis Steamers. April 16, 1988

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Ernie Buriano Chicago StingChicago Sting vs. St. Louis Steamers
April 16, 1988
Rosemont Horizon
Attendance: 4,604

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs
52 Pages

 

A quiet, downbeat ending to two proud American soccer franchises on a spring Saturday night in suburban Chicago.  The St. Louis Steamers hung a 4-3 overtime defeat on the host Chicago Sting in what would prove to be the final game for both franchises.  As the Sting’s Chicago Tribune beat writer, the late John Leptich, put it the next morning: “The term sudden death never had more applications.”

The Sting, at the time, were the longest continuously operating pro soccer club in the United States.  Founded on Halloween 1974 by commodities Lee Stern, the Sting won two outdoor soccer championships in the North American Soccer League in the early 1980’s before moving permanently indoors in 1984.  The team drew huge crowds at Chicago Stadium for indoor soccer early in the decade.  But a 1986 move to the suburban Rosemont Horizon coincided with a loss of form on the field.  Attendance cratered from over 10,000 per match during the 1984-85 campaign to fewer than 6,000 two years later.  By the spring of 1988, ever a stalwart backer like Stern was exhausted and a possible sale and relocated to Denver or Milwaukee was rumored.

If the Major Indoor Soccer League itself survived, that is.  As this final weekend of the 1987-88 regular season calendar approached, the MISL was at loggerheads with its Players’ Association over a new collective bargaining agreement.  League owners wanted to slash the salary cap from the existing $1.25M to $898,000 per season.  The owners held all the leverage.  On April 5th, 1988, league officials threatened to cancel the 1988 MISL playoffs and fold the league if the players didn’t capitulate.  The union signed off on the new deal just before midnight on April 14th, 1988.  The playoffs would happen after all, but that mattered little to Chicago or St. Louis, who had each clinched last place in their respective divisions.

The St. Louis Steamers, founded in 1979, were in worse shape than the Sting in April 1988.  Once the MISL’s model franchise, the Steamers outdrew the NHL’s St. Louis Blues every winter from 1980 through 1984.  Their 1981-82 season average of 17,107 fans per game remains the highest in the history of indoor soccer.  But ownership turnover and questionable trades eroded the club competitively and at the box office in the mid-1980’s.  The day before this match, the Steamers failed to make payroll and the team arrived in Chicago clutching IOUs.

Poli Garcia St. Louis SteamersOn “Fan Appreciation Night” at the Horizon, many of the Sting’s fan favorites were in street clothes.  Pato Margetic, Frank Klopas, Frantz Mathieu, Heinz Wirtz and Chris Vaccaro watched from the Chicago bench.  Nevertheless, the hosts carried a 3-2 lead into the final quarter.  With eight minutes to go, St Louis’ Boki Bandovic beat Chicago’s reserve goalkeeper Jay McCutcheon to know the match at 3-3 and send it to overtime.

Four minutes in, Poli Garcia of the Steamers struck for his 50th goal of the season to give St. Louis a 4-3 sudden death victory.

“I guess the way to win games is not to pay the players,” Lee Stern remarked to The Tribune afterwards, noting the Steamers’ two-game winning streak after their final paychecks bounced.

Poli Garcia’s golden goal ended not just the game, but the season and the existence of both clubs.  The Steamers were booted from the MISL two months later and the Chicago Sting closed up shop in early July 1988.  Indoor soccer would soon return to both cities.  The Chicago Power (1988-1996) of the lower-budget AISA started up in the fall of 1988 with a collection of ex-Sting players.  The MISL expanded back into St. Louis with the St. Louis Storm (1989-1992) a year later.  But neither club would recapture the following of the Sting or the Steamers in their early 80’s prime.

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Chicago soccer trivia from the Sting’s final match that only Peter Wilt may care about:

  • Match referee Bill Maxwell also called the Sting’s final outdoor match, the club’s NASL Soccer Bowl victory on October 4, 1984
  • Pato Margetic was the only player on both the Sting’s final outdoor roster in 1984 and final indoor roster in 1988.
  • Brazilian forward Batata, a four-time MISL All-Star, scored the final goal in Sting history.
  • Ernie Buriano (Sting ’86-’88) appeared on the cover of the final Sting game program (top right).

 

==Links==

Chicago Sting Home Page

St. Louis Steamers Home Page

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Written by andycrossley

March 4th, 2015 at 12:35 pm

December 3, 1985 – Wichita Wings vs. St. Louis Steamers

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Wichita Wings vs. St. Louis Steamers. December 3, 1985Wichita Wings vs. St. Louis Steamers
December 3, 1985
Kansas Coliseum
Attendance: ?

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs

 

The early/mid 1980’s clashes between the Wichita Wings and the St. Louis Steamers made for one of the best rivalries during the golden era of indoor soccer.  Both teams were popular and drew large crowds at the time, which fueled the competition.

I chose to post this game because 1.) someone posted a great-looking 46-minute edit of the St. Louis local broadcast on YouTube and 2.) we had the game program here in the archives, courtesy of Wings historian and occasional FWiL contributor Michael Romalis.  That’s the late Slobo Ilijevski of the Steamers on the cover (above right), one of the all-time greats of the indoor game.

Oh yeah – this game also featured one of the greatest goals in MISL history.  A ludicrous, ill-conceived length-of-the-floor sprint by Wichita goalkeeper Jan Olesen.  The seldom-used Dane, who would play only 16 games in the Major Indoor Soccer League, beat three St. Louis defenders and nutmegged Slobo to open the scoring in the 2nd quarter and send the Kansas Coliseum crowd into a frenzy.   There’s a separate highlight clip of Olesen’s rampage in the video section below.

The Wings held on for a 4-3 victory.

 

==YouTube==

Jan Olesen’s end-to-end golazo…

 

St. Louis Steamers local broadcast.  46-minute edit:

 

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Written by andycrossley

July 5th, 2014 at 5:19 pm

January 6, 1984 – Cleveland Force vs. St. Louis Steamers

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Cleveland Force vs. St. Louis Steamers
January 6, 1984
Richfield Coliseum
Attendance: 14,173

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs
124 pages

 

Cleveland vs. St. Louis.  Two of the great hotbeds of indoor soccer in the early 1980’s squared off in this January 1984 match at Cleveland’s Richfield Coliseum.  The Cleveland Force and the St. Louis Steamers ought to have been a great rivalry.  Both teams were Midwestern clubs, both were wildly popular in their moment, and both clubs were among the league’s best at the time.  But Cleveland was in the Major Indoor Soccer League’s Eastern Division and St. Louis was in the Western group and as a result they rarely met in the regular season (and never faced each other in the playoffs).  This Friday night match was the Steamers’ only visit to Cleveland during the 48-game 1983-84 season.

The Force came into this match as the MISL’s hottest team.  They were 13-2, thanks to an early season 11-game winning streak.  Clevelanders leapt onto the band wagon.  This was the sixth season of Force soccer and all of the sudden crowds more than doubled over their previous highs.  A huge crowd of 14,173 turned out for this match and for the season the Force claimed an average of 13,692 for their 24 home dates.  By contrast, the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers pulled only 5,075 per game in the same building that winter.

The Steamers were off to a slower start at 8-8, but their headline-making October signing of U.S. National Team midfielder Ricky Davis was starting to pay dividends.  Davis was arguably the best American soccer player of the early 1980’s.  At a minimum he carried that perception thanks to the Warner Communications marketing machine behind his former club, the New York Cosmos of the outdoor North American Soccer League.  The October 1983 defection of Ricky Davis from the Cosmos to the MISL was as sure a sign as any of the shifting fortunes of pro soccer in the U.S. in the early 1980’s, as the outdoor game foundered and indoor soccer enjoyed its moment.   Warner was cutting way back on the Cosmos in the fall of 1983 (they would unload the club altogether the following summer).  Davis reached the end of his contract on September 30th and balked at the Cosmos’ request for a pay cut.  That opened the door for the Steamers, a club whose commitment to fielding a championship-caliber team with American players was central to its brand.  They signed Davis to a three-year deal worth a reported $117,000 per year, which made the 24-year old one of the highest paid players in the MISL.

Davis came into the Force match hot with 10 goals in his previous five games.  He added a hat trick on this night to lead the Steamers to a 5-2 victory.  The result bumped the Steamers over .500 (9-8) and dropped Cleveland to 13-3.  St. Louis would go on to win the Western Division and appear in the MISL Championship Series, losing to the Baltimore Blast.  The Force never quite regained their invincible form of the season’s first two months.  They finished with a respectable 31-17 record, but were swept by the Blast in the semis, 3 games to none.

 

==Links==

Cleveland Force Home Page

St. Louis Steamers Home Page

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Written by andycrossley

June 2nd, 2013 at 6:23 pm

March 10, 1985 – Minnesota Strikers vs. Chicago Sting

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Slobo Ilijevski St. Louis SteamersMinnesota Strikers vs. Chicago Sting
March 10, 1985
The Met Center
Attendance: 5,359

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs
52 pages

Sharp game program from the heyday of the Major Indoor Soccer League.  The Minnesota Strikers hosted the Chicago Sting at the old Met Center in Bloomington, Minnesota on the evening of March 10th, 1985.  A modest crowd of 5,359 watched the Strikers come back and defeat the Sting 6-4, courtesy of a 4th quarter hat trick by Liberian-born midfielder Ben Collins (who only scored 10 other goals all season).

The Strikers never really caught on in Minnesota.  The club was owned by the Robbie Family of Florida.  Joe Robbie was famous as the owner of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.  His wife Elizabeth and son Tim ran the Strikers, who had their glory days as an outdoor club – the Fort Lauderdale Strikers – in the North American Soccer League from 1977 to 1983.  The Robbie’s moved the Strikers to Minneapolis in November 1983 and played one summer season of “outdoor” soccer at the indoor Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in 1984.  But the NASL folded and the Strikers accepted an invitation to join the MISL in the winter of 1984-85.

Ben Collins Chicago StingCollins played just the one full season for the Strikers and this match was likely his finest moment.  In November 1985, Minnesota traded Collins to the Sting, who perhaps remembered this night when he single-handedly beat them in the final frame.  Collins remained a key performer in the MISL for the rest of its existence until 1992, when the league folded and Collins retired.

To their credit, the Robbie’s muddled along in Minnesota for four seasons, although the Strikers were annually one of the league’s weakest draws.  The exception was the spring of 1986, when the club made a run to the MISL Championship Series and drew several capacity or near capacity crowds at the Met Center.  The Strikers ultimately lost that series to the Sockers and the bandwagon fans faded away over the club’s final two seasons.  The Robbie family threw in the towel in June 1988, folding the club at the MISL annual postseason meetings.

From 1978 to 1985, the MISL published a national magazine format game program called MISSILE.  The cover story of each issue was created at the national office, so the program art often had nothing to do with the game in question.  In this case, the cover subject was St. Louis Steamers goalkeeper Slobo Ilijevski.  Ilijevski was one of the indoor game’s all-time great keepers and played professionally into his 40’s.   Sadly, Ilijevski passed away at the age of 58 in July 2008 after suffering a ruptured aorta while playing in an over-the-hill league game in Bellingham, Washington.

 

==Links==

Chicago Sting Home Page

Minnesota Strikers Home Page

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