The North American Soccer League, a subset of the USSF Division-2 Pro League, announced this morning that it would add a franchise based in San Antonio, scheduled to begin play in 2012.
The federation is running D-II for this season only, but has not yet approved a league to take its place for 2011. While we wait for that to happen, let’s look back at the old NASL, which ran from 1968 to ’84, hosted a surprising number of legends (Pelé, Cruyff, Best, Banks, Muller, Eusebio, the list goes on), and provided a full complement of only-in-America moments.
Most Preposterous Uniforms: The NASL actually had some decent kits, so there was a landslide winner in this category.
Behold … the Colorado Caribou home shirt from 1978:
We know what you’re thinking—but no, they really did wear those things in actual games. Look, photographic evidence:
Most Unexpected Broadcaster: Current ESPN baseball man Jon Miller! Here he is doing a San Jose Earthquakes–LA Aztecs game back in the day.
The game-show theme music, the endless opening sequence, the cutting-edge graphics, and of course, Miller’s dynamic hairstyle. (Also: not a bad crowd on hand.) You can’t get enough of this stuff:
Most Atrocious Facility: Downing Stadium, Randalls Island, NY. There may very well have been worse fields in the league, but this one hosted Pelé’s debut:
We struggle to find a comparison. Maybe Michael Jordan making a late-career move to, oh, China, and being forced to play basketball on an outdoor blacktop court … with rain puddles on it? Yeah, there really are no parallels.
Worst “Innovation”: The “35-yard-line” for offside. In an attempt to goose scoring, the league used this marker, instead of the halfway-line, to determine offside.
Best Innovation: The shootout! Not from the penalty spot, but a “breakaway” from the 35-yard line. Skeptical? In the Cosmos documentary Once In A Lifetime, no less an authority than Johan Cruyff came down solidly in favor of it, saying that Europe should adopt it today. Pele and Beckenbauer also liked it.
Best American Player: Roy Wegerle. He only played one season (1984), but he scored nine goals and then went on to an accomplished career in Europe. Also played for the U.S. in the ’94 and ’98 World Cups.
Hints provided—and nothing too obscure or trivial. Googling prohibited.
1. Name the two players who played in both the NASL and Major League Soccer.
Hint: One is a South African by birth who played for the USMNT, and the other is a recent coach of the Mexican national team.
2. Who was MVP of the final (1984) NASL season?
Hint: He went on to a legendary indoor-soccer career—as much as such thing is possible—with the New York Arrows, among other clubs. Also earned 14 caps for Yugoslavia.
3. Which team won the league in ’84?
Hint: They had a German striker with a wicked left foot, and were located in the Midwest, like the Columbus Crew, which has the same black-and-yellow color scheme as this team did.
4. Who is the NASL’s alltime leading scorer?
Hint: This one’s easy.
5. Which team suited up George Best, Teofilo Cubillas, and Gerd Muller, yet never won an NASL title?
Hint: They also featured former MLS coach and current Gol TV commentator Ray Hudson—and they might be coming back.
Answers in the comments section.
Thanks to Old 27, the Striker Liker, and the excellent site NASL Memories.