Lively Tales About Dead Teams

ASL (1933-1983)

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American Soccer League FranchisesThe American Soccer League (1933-1983) began life in the big cities and outlying industrial areas of the Northeast during the Great Depression.  In fact, the league referred to here is actually a reincarnation of the original ASL, which played in New England, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania from 1921 to 1933.

For most of its 50-year existence, the ASL was a cluster of ethnically-identified clubs in the Northeast.  Teams came and went on annual basis, often dropping out or changing identities in the middle of seasons.  See the alphabetical listings below just for the city of Baltimore to get an idea of the churn. Until 1969, the ASL played a fall-to-spring schedule that mirrored the traditional football calendar played in Europe and elsewhere.  In 1969, the ASL switched to the summer schedule more familiar to American fans.

When the tide began to rise for pro soccer in the United States during the 1970’s, the league began to expand its geographic footprint and take on the trappings of larger pro leagues.  By 1972, the ethnic team names were largely gone, although a few clubs such as the New York Apollo (formerly the New York Greeks) chose names that still hewed to the ethnic identities of their organizers.  The league hired former Boston Celtics star Bob Cousy as Commissioner.  Cousy was the first to admit he knew little about the game of soccer, but it was assumed that the future Pro Basketball Hall-of-Famer would raise the league’s national PR profile and he did.  By 1976, the ASL reached the West Coast, launching expansion franchises from Los Angeles to Tacoma. Eventually, the league took out office space on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.

During this time, the ASL served as the 2nd Division league in the United States to the far bigger-budgeted North American Soccer League (1968-1984).  It was not uncommon for ASL teams to lose their top players to the NASL, although the escalator sometimes ran in the other direction as well, with top NASL and foreign stars such as Phil Parkes, Eusebio and Jeff Bourne sometimes slumming it for a few seasons or playing out their final days before small crowds in ASL cities.

Ultimately, the ASL’s boom period in the 1970’s was unsustainable, just as the NASL’s was. The league folded following the 1983 season after a small group of owners defected to launch the doomed United Soccer League (1984-1985), leaving the ASL with too few clubs to continue.  A new East Coast-based league launched in 1988 reviving the American Soccer League name, but this was an entirely different organization.

Click here for FWiL’s 2012 interview with NBC an ESPN soccer broadcaster Glenn Davis, who looks back on playing in the ASL during its final season in 1983.

The franchise list below is cobbled together from Dave Litterer and Steve Holroyd’s remarkable research on the league at Dave’s American Soccer History Archives site.  Check ’em out.


American Soccer League Franchises

Franchise Years Active ASL Championships
Allentown 1939
Baltimore Americans 1939-1949
Baltimore Bays 1973
Baltimore Canton 1934-1936
Baltimore Flyers 1967-1968
Baltimore German 1938-1939
Baltimore Pompei 1957-1961
Baltimore Rockets 1953-1957
Baltimore S.C. 1936-1942
Baltimore St. Gerard's 1966-1967
Baltimore Stars 1972
Bethlehem Hungarians 1938-1939
Boca Juniors 1963-1964
Boston Astros 1969-1975
Boston Metros 1963-1964
Boston Tigers 1965-1968
Brookhattan 1938-1957
Brookhattan-Galicia 1957-1959
Brooklyn Celtic 1933-1935
Brooklyn F.C. 1933-1934
Brooklyn Giants 1942-1943
Brooklyn Hakoah 1948-1956
Brooklyn Hispano 1933-1956
Brooklyn Italians 1956-1961
Brooklyn St. Mary's Celtics 1935-1942
Brooklyn Wanderers 1942-1948
California Sunshine 1977-1980
Carolina Lightnin' 1981-1983
Chicago Americans 1972
Chicago Cats 1975-1976
Cincinnati Comets 1972-1975
Cleveland Cobras 1975-1981
Cleveland Stars 1972-1973
Colombo 1959-1960
Columbus Magic 1979-1980
Connecticut Wildcats 1973-1974
Connecticut Yankees 1975-1978
Dallas Americans 1983
Deleware Wings 1972-1974
Detroit Express 1981-1983
Detroit Mustangs 1972-1973
Detroit S.C. 1972
Elizabeth Falcons 1954-1959
Falcons S.C. 1959-1962
Falcons-Warsaw 1962-1964
Fall River Astros 1967-1968
Fall River S.C. 1967-1968
Galicia-Honduras 1961-1962
Galicia S.C. 1959-1961
Gary Tigers 1973
Georgia Generals 1982 None
Golden Gate Gales 1980
Hartford Kings 1966-1968
Hartford S.C. 1964-1966
Indiana Tigers 1974
Indy Daredevils 1978-1979 None
Inter-Brooklyn Italians 1961-1962
Inter S.C. 1962-1963 & 1965-1966
Jacksonville Tea Men 1983 1983
Kearny Americans 1941-1953
Kearny Celtic 1942-1951
Kearny Irish 1933-1942
Kearny Scots 1933-1941
Las Vegas Seagulls 1979 None
Los Angeles Skyhawks 1976-1979 1976
Ludlow Lusitano 1955-1956 & 1957-1958
Ludlow S.C. 1956-1957
Miami Americans 1980 None
Nashville Diamonds 1982 None
New Brunswick Hungarian 1967-1969
New Brunswick Hungarian-Americans 1963-1967
New England Oceaneers 1977 None
New England Sharks 1981 None
New Jersey Americans 1976-1979 1977
New Jersey Brewers 1973-1975
New Jersey Schaefer Brewers 1972
New York Americans 1933-1956
New York Apollo 1973-1979 1973-1975 (Co-Champions)-1978
New York Brookhattan 1933-1938 None
New York Eagles 1978-1979 & 1981 None
New York Greeks 1971-1972 1971
New York Hakoah 1956-1962
New York Hakoah-Americans 1962-1964
New York Inter 1966-1969
New York United 1980-1981 None
Newark Falcons 1964-1967
Newark Germans 1933-1937
Newark Ukrainian-Sitch 1962-1970
Nor'East United 1972
Oakland Buccaneers 1976 None
Oklahoma City Slickers 1982-1983 None
Olimpia 1965-1967
Passon Phillies 1936-1938
Paterson Caledonian 1936-1938
Paterson F.C. 1939-1941
Pennsylvania Stoners 1979-1983 1980
Philadelphia 1938-1939
Philadelphia Americans 1941-1953
Philadelphia German-Americans 1933-1941
Philadelphia Nationals 1941-1954
Philadelphia Passon 1939-1941
Philadelphia Spartans 1969-1972
Philadelphia Ukrainians 1957-1958
Philadelphia Ukrainians 1969-1970
Phoenix Fire 1980 (Preseason) None
Pittsburgh Cannons 1972
Pittsburgh Miners 1975 None
Ponta Delgada S.C. 1951-1953
Rhode Island Oceaneers 1974-1976 1974
Rochester Flash 1981-1982 None
Rochester Lancers 1967-1969
Roma S.C. 1964-1968
Sacramento Gold 1978-1980 1979
Sacramento Spirits 1976-1977 None
St. Louis Frogs 1972
St. Louis Mules 1972
Santa Barbara Condors 1977 None
Southern California Lazers 1978 None
Syracuse Scorpions 1969-1970
Syracuse Suns 1971 & 1973-1974
Tacoma Tides 1976 None
Trenton Americans 1953-1955
Trenton Athletics 1948-1951
Trenton Highlanders 1938-1939
Uhrik Truckers 1953-1965
Ukrainian Nationals 1957-1968
Utah Golden Spikers 1976
Utah Pioneers 1976
Virginia Capitol Cavaliers 1971
Washington Cavaliers 1972
Washington Darts 1967-1969
Worcester Astros 1975 1975 (Co-Champions)

Written by AC

March 25th, 2012 at 2:01 pm

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