Lively Tales About Dead Teams

1988-1990 Washington Stars


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

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


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.


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==


Date Opponent Score Program Other


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


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


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



Washington Stars sources



American Soccer League Media Guides

American Soccer League Programs


5 Responses to '1988-1990 Washington Stars'

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  1. Koskinen also donated heavily to Kerr’s alma mater, and Kerr now coaches in Koskinen Stadium.

    Beau Dure

    22 Jan 12 at 5:16 pm

  2. Another fun read and great reminder of exactly how much soccer history exists in Northern Virgina and D.C.

    I sharred this post with my readers:

    Chris Wimmer

    24 Jan 12 at 1:32 pm

  3. I had the privilege of playing on that team for the first two seasons. We could not waite to go on the road because our home fields at Fairfax HS and Woodson HS were horrible. We were playing on HS fields and teams like Miami, Boston and the Dips were playing in real stadiums. Needless to say our away record was much better than our home record. That league was home to many of the 1990 US World Cup team. Wouldn’t trade playing for the Stars in those two seasons for anything.

    Rick Potts

    18 Mar 13 at 4:00 pm

  4. There was a professional soccer team that played at Fairfax High School. What.


    30 Jan 15 at 9:03 pm

  5. Some fine memories of seeing the Stars at both “home” locations. I remember home runs from an adjacent ball field trickling on the field at Woodson from time to time. What a contrast it must have been for Bruce Murry after the US run at the 1990 World Cup.


    18 Jun 15 at 1:01 am

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