Thursday, January 3, 2013

The strange case of the United Soccer Association

The United Soccer Association as the name suggests (look at the initials)was a professional football league in the USA. It employed a somewhat strange model, which took franchising to the max,although it only operated for one year,in 1967 before merging with the National Professional Soccer League to format the NASL. What was so unusual about the league was that all of the teams were imported from overseas and just took the names of the cities that they were playing in that season. Some of the teams like Dallas Tornado went on to get their own teams together for the NASL and others managed to reinvent themselves as new clubs, for example Washington Whips laid down the foundation for a franchise that later entered Washington as the Diplomats, but many of the teams from that era have disappeared into the ether.

One of the main reasons for this rather odd model was that the founders of the league wanted to start the league in 1968, as they had the franchises ready, but not the squads. However, CBS, the television company wanted it to start. In 1967, so it had to start in 1967.

Things got off to a good start for the league, with a sport that was struggling to take off in the country even more so then than in recent years. The first game at Houston Stars attracted a crowd of nearly 35,000 for example. However, attendances didn't manage to hold up and the average for the league over the season was just under 8,000.

The eventual champions were Los Angeles Wolves, who were basically Wolverhampton wanderers, who beat Washington Whips (Aberdeen) in the final. Wolves won 6-5 after extra time in front of a crowd of just under 18,000.

The teams that participated in that single season and their final positions were as follows.

EASTERN DIVISION
1 Washington Whips (Aberdeen)
2 Cleveland Stokers (Stoke)
3 Toronto City (Hibernian)
4 Detroit Cougars (Glentoran)
5 New York Skylines (CA Cerro)
6 Boston Rovers (Shamrock Rovers)

WESTERN DIVISION
1 Los Angeles Wolves (Wolves)
2 San Francisco Golden Gate Gales (Den Haag)
3 Chicago Mustangs (Cagliari)
4 Houston Stars (Bangu)
5 Vancouver Royal Canadians (Sunderland )
6 Dallas Tornado (Dundee United )

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