Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1988-1990 Washington Stars

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American Soccer League (1988-1990)
American Professional Soccer League (1990)

Born: May 1987 – ASL founding franchise
Died: October 1990 – Merged with the Maryland Bays

Stadiums:

Team Colors: Burgundy & Silver

Owner: John Koskinen

 

The Washington Stars were a professional soccer franchise based in Fairfax, Virginia that operated for three seasons between 1988 and 1990.  The Stars were a founding franchise in the American Soccer League, which debuted in the summer of 1988 with ten East Coast franchises stretching from Albany to Miami.

Three of the ASL’s founding clubs were clustered in the Baltimore-Washington metroplex.  The Washington Diplomats revived the brand name of the old North American Soccer League (NASL) club of the 1970’s and early 80’s and, like the original Dips in their glory years, played out of RFK Stadium in D.C. proper.  The Maryland Bays played 50 miles away in Catonsville, MD.  The Stars, originally dubbed Washington F.C. before a name change, hoped to play at George Mason University’s 5,000-seat stadium.  But the university declined and the Stars split time instead between Stalnaker Stadium at Fairfax (VA) High School and Fairfax’s nearby W.T. Woodson High School.

The Stars owner was John Koskinen, a corporate turnaround specialist and the Chairman of the Washington, D.C. Host Committee as the United States prepared to host the 1994 World Cup.  ASL clubs worked on much more modest budgets than their NASL predecessors.  Koskinen told The Washington Post that the Stars first-year budget was around $350,000 with $50,000 or so earmarked for player salaries.

Also unlike the NASL, the American Soccer League planned to feature American players.  The Stars had several very good ones, including the young U.S. National Team midfielder Bruce Murray and the former Duke Blue Devil John Kerr, Jr.  Kerr’s father, John Kerr, Sr. coached the Stars and was himself a veteran of the Washington Darts and Diplomats NASL teams of the 1970’s.  The Stars also brought in 31-year midfielder Sonny Askew who played for the old Dips from 1977-1980.  Askew would make the league’s postseason All-Star team in 1988.

On the field, the club’s brightest moments came during the 1989 campaign, when the Stars posted the best regular season record at 14-6.  The Stars lost to the eventual champion Ft. Lauderdale Strikers in the 1989 ASL playoffs.

Prior to the 1990 season, the twelve clubs of the ASL merged with the eleven-team Western Soccer League and re-branded itself as the American Professional Soccer League.  The teams would still stick to a regional schedule in 1990, with the champions of the ASL and WSL meeting for a national championship match.

After the 1990 season, fifteen franchises dropped out of the APSL, reducing membership from 23 clubs to just 8 in a matter of months.  The Stars were among the casualties.  John Koskinen finalized a long-planned merger with the APSL champion Maryland Bays in October 1990.  The Bays continued for one more year themselves with Koskinen as a part owner, before folding in January 1992.

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John Koskinen later served as President of the United States Soccer Foundation from 2004 to 2008.

Stars midfielder Bruce Murray earned 86 caps with the U.S. National Team between 1985 and 1993.   He started all three games for the United States and scored a goal in the 1990 World Cup.  Murray earned induction to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2011.

 

==Washington Stars Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season

Date Opponent Score Program Other

1988

1988 7/30/1988 vs. Orlando Lions ?? Program

1989

1989 4/23/1989 @ New Jersey Eagles  W 1-0 (PK) Program Game Notes

1990

1990 4/14/1990 @ Penn-Jersey Spirit L 1-0 Program
1990 7/13/1990 @ New Jersey Eagles  W 3-0 Program Game Notes

 

==Downloads==

Washington Stars sources

 

==Links==

American Soccer League Media Guides

American Soccer League Programs

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