North American Soccer League

From Academic Kids

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NASL logo

In 1967, two pro soccer leagues started in the United States: the FIFA-sanctioned United Soccer Association and the unsanctioned National Professional Soccer League. It has been suggested that the timing of this was related to the huge amount of attention given throughout the English-speaking world given to the victory by England in the 1966 FIFA World Cup and the resulting documentary film, Goal. The National Professional Soccer League had a national television contract in the U.S. with the CBS television network, but the ratings for matches were unacceptable even by weekend daytime standards and the arrangement was terminated. The leagues merged in 1968 to form the North American Soccer League (NASL). The NASL lasted until 1984 when it folded. However, four NASL teams (Chicago, Minnesota, New York, and San Diego) joined the Major Indoor Soccer League for its 1984-85 season. The NASL itself operated an indoor soccer league from 1979-82 and in 1983-84.

The biggest club in the league was the New York Cosmos, who drew upwards of 40,000 fans per game at their height. However, the average attendance of the league never reached 15,000, which is less than MLS currently draws.

The NASL faced challenges in regards to selling the sport of soccer to Americans, which was completely foreign to them. The league "Americanized" the rules in attempt to make the game more exciting to the average sports fan. These changes included a clock that counted down to zero, a 35 yard line for offsides, and a shootout to decide matches that ended in a draw. The foreign image of soccer wasn't helped by a league that bought many older, high profile foreign players, and left Americans on the bench.

The overexpansion was a huge factor in the death of the league. Once the league starting growing, new franchises were awarded quickly, and it doubled in size in a few years, peaking at 24 teams. This resulted in the talent level spreading too thin. Additionally, many of the owners were not soccer people, and once the popularity started to decline, they got out as quickly as they got in. They also spent millions on aging stars to try and match the success of the Cosmos, and lost massive amounts of money.

While the NASL may have failed, it introduced soccer to the masses. This has led to soccer becoming the number one participatory sport among kids.

It has also provided valuable lessons for MLS to heed. It made many of the same mistakes in its first few years, but now they seem to be on the right track. MLS is trying to build soccer specific stadiums for each of its teams, rather than renting large NFL venues. Americans are now the backbone of the league, with a foreign player limit enforced. The Americanization of the rules has ended; MLS games are now exactly the same as the rest of the world. No longer do they spend millions on aging stars (Luis Hernandez, Lothar Matthaus).


NASL Champions

  • 1968 Atlanta Chiefs
  • 1969 Kansas City Spurs
  • 1970 Rochester Lancers
  • 1971 Dallas Tornado
  • 1972 New York Cosmos
  • 1973 Philadelphia Atoms
  • 1974 Los Angeles Aztecs
  • 1975 Tampa Bay Rowdies
  • 1976 Toronto Metros-Croatia
  • 1977 New York Cosmos
  • 1978 New York Cosmos
  • 1979 Vancouver Whitecaps
  • 1980 New York Cosmos
  • 1981 Chicago Sting
  • 1982 New York Cosmos
  • 1983 Tulsa Roughnecks
  • 1984 Chicago Sting

NASL Indoor Champions

  • 1980 Memphis Rogues
  • 1981 Edmonton Drillers
  • 1982 San Diego Sockers
  • 1983 No NASL indoor league
  • 1984 San Diego Sockers

Teams of NASL 1968-84


Famous Players of the NASL


Current Professionals with parents in the NASL

United Soccer Association (USA) 1967

Western Division

Eastern Division

National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) 1967

  • Atlanta Chiefs
  • Baltimore Bays
  • Chicago Spurs
  • Los Angeles Toros
  • New York Generals
  • Philadelphia Spartans
  • Pittsburgh Phantoms
  • Oakland Clippers (champions)
  • St. Louis Stars
  • Toronto Falcons

See Also

External Links


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