Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘A-League’ Category

1987-2000 Vancouver 86ers

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Vancouver 86ersCanadian Soccer League (1987-1992)
American Professional Soccer League (1993-1996)
A-League (1997-2000)

Born: 1986 – CSL founding franchise.
Re-Branded: October 26, 2000 (Vancouver Whitecaps)

Stadium: Swangard Stadium (6,500)

Team Colors:

  • 1993-????: Red, Black & White



Text coming soon…


==Vancouver 86ers Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other


1987 6/28/1987 vs. Calgary Kickers ?? Program


1988 9/25/1988 vs. Hamilton Steelers W 4-1 Program


1989 5/28/1989 @ Ottawa Intrepid ?? Program
1989 6/4/1989 vs. Calgary Strikers W 7-3 Program



==In Memoriam==

Former 86ers owner Milan Ilich died of leukemia on June 29, 2011 at age 76.



Canadian Soccer League Media Guides

Canadian Soccer League Programs

American Professional Soccer League Media Guides

American Professional Soccer League Programs




1990-1997 Colorado Foxes

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1995 Colorado Foxes Media GuideAmerican Professional Soccer League (1990-1994)
A-League (1995-1996)
USISL A-League (1997)

Born: 1990 – APSL expansion franchise.
1998 (San Diego Flash)


Team Colors: Yellow & Black

Owner: Martin Nixdorf

APSL Champions: 1992 and 1993


The Colorado Foxes were at outdoor soccer club active for most of the 1990’s in the Denver region.  During their early years, the Foxes competed at the highest level of outdoor soccer played in the United States.  But the semi-anonymous American Professional Soccer League (later re-named the ‘A-League‘) still fell something short of a true Division I organization.   The Foxes won back-to-back championships in the APSL in 1992 and 1993.

When the United States won the bid to host the 1994 World Cup, one of FIFA’s demands was that the Americans finally create a proper Division I league to replace the old North American Soccer League which had folded a decade earlier in 1985.  The APSL made a bid to become that league, but they were rejected in favor of a proposal for a new league, which would become Major League Soccer in 1996.

Major League Soccer awarded one of its 10 original franchises to Denver in 1995.  This posed a mortal threat to the Foxes, who were playing to average crowds of less than 6,000 in gargantuan Mile High Stadium at the time.  MLS’ Colorado Rapids club moved into Mile High Stadium in 1996, while the Foxes moved into the smaller renovated Mile High Greyhound Track in Commerce City.  The Foxes’ German owner Martin Nixdorf elected to compete with the Rapids head-to-head for two seasons, but by the end of 1997 the writing was clearly on the wall for the now 2nd Division club.  The Foxes moved to Southern California in 1998 and became the San Diego Flash.



Still Kicking“, T.R Witcher, Denver Westword, June 6, 1996

APSL & A-League Media Guides
APSL & League Programs





1995 New York Centaurs

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New York CentaursA-League (1995)

Born: 1995 – A-League expansion franchise.
Died: 1996 – Merged with New York Fever.

Stadium: Downing Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner: Roger Gorevic


Grimy, decrepit Downing Stadium on Randall’s Island was the CBGB’s of New York City sporting venues.  In 1975 – the same year that the Ramones, the Heartbreakers, Blondie and the Talking Heads were igniting the punk scene at Hilly Kristal’s dank nightclub in the Bowery – Downing Stadium was the home to the New York Cosmos at the seismic moment that Pele arrived in American to play for that iconic club.  For American soccer enthusiasts of a certain age, Downing Stadium therefore conjures a kind of reflected glory and authenticity that is wholly unrepresentative of its brief, inadequate life as a pro soccer ground.

The Cosmos moved to Yankee Stadium in 1976 and by the end of 1977 they were packing 70,000+ into the newly opened Giants Stadium.  But in the early 1980s it all came apart and the team was out of business by 1985.  For more than a decade, New York City didn’t have an outdoor pro soccer club to call its own.

That changed in 1995 when a jeweler named Roger Gorevic purchased an expansion club in the A-League.  The A-League was America’s top pro league for the moment, but it barely managed to scrape together six clubs to stage a 1995 season.  And the future wasn’t any brighter.  Major League Soccer was scheduled to launch the following year as America’s sanctioned 1st Division league which would consign the A-League to even deeper irrelevance.

Gorevic named his club the New York Centaurs and placed the team at Downing Stadium, with its crummy lighting, shoddy pitch and ancient row of bleachers.  Maybe it was a fit of nostalgia for the Cosmos.  (Midway through the season, Gorevic would replace original Centaurs head coach Len Roitman with former Cosmos star Vladislav Bogicevic).  Or maybe it was just the only field available within the city limits.  Either way, nobody wanted to go and most Centaurs matches in 1995 drew fewer than 1,000 fans.

Gorevic and Roitman’s polyglot club included Africans, Eastern Europeans, Middle Easterners, South Americans and homegrown players.  The club finished in last place in the six-team A-League with a 6-18 record in 1995.

At the end of the year, Gorevic merged the New York Centaurs with a lower-level side named the New York Fever.  They dropped the Centaurs name in favor of the New York Fever and returned to the A-League in 1996.  After sitting out 1997, remnants of the club re-emerged as the Staten Island Vipers under Gorevic’s ownership in 1998 and 1999 before folding for good.



1995 New York Centaurs Ticket Brochure



APSL/A-League Media Guides

APSL/A-League Programs


Written by AC

March 14th, 2014 at 2:15 am

July 13, 1999 – Staten Island Vipers vs. MetroStars

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Staten Island Vipers vs. MetroStars
1999 U.S. Open Cup – 3rd Round
July 13, 1999
Yurcak Field
Attendance: 1,077

United Soccer Leagues Programs
64 pages


Rare program and press notes (downloads below) from the 1999 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, American’s oldest nationwide soccer competition.  Started in 1914 as the National Challenge Cup, ethnically-based amateur and semi-pro clubs dominated the competition for most of the 20th century.  As late as 1994, the Cup final was contested by Greek-American A.C. of San Francisco and Bavarian Leinenkugel of Milwaukee.

All that changed in 1995 when professional teams from the A-League entered the competition.  Two A-League clubs, the Richmond Kickers and the El Paso Patriots, dispatched the amateur qualifiers and advanced to the final, with Richmond taking home the Cup.

With the formation of Major League Soccer in 1996, American had a proper 1st Division pro league for the first time in twelve years.  MLS embraced the U.S. Open Cup (unlike the NASL of the 1960’s – 1980’s, whose clubs never took part).  From 1996 to present, Major League Soccer clubs have won every Open Cup tournament, with the exception of 1999, when the 2nd Division Rochester Raging Rhinos won the tournament, upsetting four MLS teams along the way.

This program comes from the 3rd round of that same tournament and this match marked the first of many MLS upsets in the 1999 brackets.  Well, maybe not that big an upset in this case.  The MetroStars of Major League Soccer were 5-12 in league play at the time and slogging through a horrid season under manager Bora Milutinovic that would ultimately end with a league-worst 7-25 record.  Their opponent was the Staten Island Vipers, a two-year old A-League club who were having a terrific campaign in the 2nd Division.  The match was technically a home game for the New Jersey-based Metros, but the modest ticket sales for Open Cup matches didn’t justify opening the club’s normal home at 76,000-seat Giants Stadium in East Rutherford.  Instead, the MetroStars rented 5,000-seat Yurcak Field in Piscataway.  Only 1,077 die hards showed up.

The Vipers seized the initiative early, taking a 1-0 lead in the first half and then earning a man advantage when MetroStars forward Eduardo Hurtado was sent off for a flagrant foul in the 53rd minute.  But the MetroStars battled back in the second half, scoring two goals after going a man down to take a 2-1 lead late.  Both MetroStars goals came off the foot of midfielder Billy Walsh, a former New Jersey prep star returning to Yurcak Field where he starred as a collegian at Rutgers.  But then the MetroStars imploded in typical fashion, conceding a late equalizer to minor league war horse Lee Tschantret to send the match into overtime.  Five minutes into the extra period, Staten Island’s Kevin Wilson scored on a breakaway goal to bounce the MetroStars out of the Open Cup.

The Open Cup upset was likely the high point of the short, obscure history of the Staten Island Vipers.  They would lose their next Open Cup match – the quarterfinal round – to another 2nd Division club, the Charleston (SC) Battery.  At the end of the 1999 season, the Vipers’ owners folded the team after only two seasons of play.



July 13, 1999 MetroStars Game Notes

July 13, 1999 Staten Island Vipers Game Notes

July 13, 1999 U.S. Soccer Open Cup Tournament Notes



1999 Maryland Mania


USL A-League (1999)

Born: 1998 – A-League expansion franchise.
Folded: November 1999.


Team Colors:

Owner: A.J. Ali, et al.


The Maryland Mania was a seemingly cursed 2nd Division pro soccer club that existed for only one season in the United Soccer Leagues’ A-League during the summer of 1999.  The A-League was the 2nd Division of men’s pro soccer in the United States at the time, competing one level below Major League Soccer.

Over a year before the Mania played their first game, club founder A.J. Ali hired ex-Norwich City striker Justin Fashanu to be the team’s Head Coach.  Fashanu was the first black footballer to command a $1 million transfer fee in England as a 20-year old in 1981.  Nottingham Forest thought Fashanu could be the heir apparent toTrevor Francis, but his career never quite lived up to his early promise at Norwich City.  Fashanu spent the late 1980’s and most of the 1990’s pinballing between short stints in England and lower division gigs with North American clubs in Edmonton, Los Angeles and Atlanta.  But Fashanu stayed in the public eye thanks to his status as one of the first openly homosexual players in English football, after coming out to the press in 1990.

In early 1998, Fashanu moved to Maryland to prepare for the debut of the Mania in 1999.  In April 1998 he was interviewed by police and later charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year old student in Ellicott City, Maryland.  Fashanu disputed the boy’s account – in a suicide note, after fleeing back to England and hanging himself in a garage in early May 1998.

When the Mania finally took the field a year later, Columbia, Maryland native and former New York Cosmos player Darryl Gee was Head Coach.  But A.J. Ali fired Gee after the Mania lost their first game on the road, replacing him with former Baltimore Blast star Paul Kitson.  After 13 games, the Mania’s record was 1-12 and the team had been outscored 26-4.

Off the field the Mania had even bigger problems.  Crowds at UMBC Stadium numbered in the low hundreds at best and the team abruptly moved to a cheaper community college field.  The team stopped paying bills and The Baltimore Sun ran an article addressing rumors the club would fold in midseason.   Founder A.J. Ali walked away from the team in midseason, leaving behind a pile of unpaid bills and a group of thirteen smarting investment partners.

The team managed the stagger through the remainder of the 1999 A-League calendar, finishing 29th out of 30 clubs in the league with a 3-25 record.  The Maryland Mania announced they were out of business in early November 1999 after investors lost $650,000 on the team’s lone season of operation.


==In Memoriam==

Former Mania player/coach Paul Kitson died on August 25, 2005 of a heart attack at age 49.



Tamsin Todd’s 1998 Salon profile of Justin Fashanu

United Soccer Leagues Media Guides

United Soccer Leagues Programs




Written by AC

September 1st, 2013 at 1:11 am


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