Lively Tales About Dead Teams

ASL, WSL & APSL (1985-1996)

leave a comment

1994 American Professional Soccer League Media GuideAfter the demise of the North American Soccer League in January 1985, American outdoor soccer wandered in the wilderness for several years.  To the extent that soccer existed as a pro sport in America in the mid-1980’s, it was the indoor six-on-six format as played by the Major Indoor Soccer League.

In 1985, a small group of pro clubs launched a regional league on West Coast known as the Western Soccer Alliance (changed to the Western Soccer League for 1989).  Their national profile was virtually zero, other than coverage in a few diehard publications like Soccer America and Soccer Digest.  In 1988, a similarly low-budgeted East Coast League debuted, the American Soccer League.  The ASL, in particular, exhibited a nostalgia for the glory days of the NASL, with a trio of clubs – the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Tampa Bay Rowdies and Washington Diplomats – reviving NASL identities and, in some cases, ownership.  Some former NASL players returned, but the budgets were far, far smaller and regional play was the rule of the day.

After the 1989 season, the champions of the ASL (Ft. Lauderdale Strikers) and WSL (San Diego Nomads) met in a post-season national championship match at Boston’s Nickerson Field.  In 1990, the ASL and WSA merged, forming the nationwide American Professional Soccer League (APSL).  From 1990 to 1995, the APSL was essentially the United States 1st Division league, although FIFA never granted the APSL that official sanction, since the league also included teams from Canada.

The formation of Major League Soccer in 1994 and its debut in 1996 effectively ended any pretensions that the APSL had to top flight status.  The league played it’s final two seasons (1995 and 1996) under a new name: The A-League.  Prior to the 1997 season, the remnants of the APSL were absorbed into the United Soccer Leagues and the league became a de facto 2nd division feeder league to Major League Soccer.  The A-League name continued until 2004, when the re-branded the league as USL 1st Division.

The teams covered here played in the Western Soccer Alliance, American Soccer League or the APSL between 1986 and 1996.  For teams that played in The A-League after its absorption by the USL in 1997, please see the A-League/USL 1st Division page.

For the sake of clarity, clubs are listed here in each version of this league in which they played:


Western Soccer Alliance/Western Soccer League Franchise List

Franchise  Years Active WSA/WSL Champions
Arizona Condors 1989 None
California Kickers 1987-1989 None
Edmonton Brickmen 1986 None
F.C. Portland 1985-1988 None
F.C. Seattle 1985-1987 1988 (as "Seattle Storm")
Hollywood Kickers 1986 1986
Los Angeles Heat 1986-1989 None
Portland Timbers 1989 None
Real Santa Barbara 1989 None
Sacramento Senators 1989 None
San Diego Nomads 1986-1989 1987-1989
San Francisco Bay Blackhawks 1989 None
San Jose Earthquakes 1985-1988 1985
Seattle Storm 1988-1989 1988
Victoria Riptides 1985 None


American Soccer League Franchise List

Franchise Years Active ASL Champions
Albany Capitals 1988-1989 None
Boston Bolts 1988-1989 None
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 1988-1989 1989
Maryland Bays 1988-1989 None
Miami Sharks 1988-1989 None
New Jersey Eagles 1988-1989 None
Orlando Lions 1988-1989 None
Tampa Bay Rowdies 1988-1989 None
Washington Diplomats 1988-1989 1988
Washington Stars 1988-1989 None


APSL/A-League Franchise List

Franchise Years Active  APSL Champions
Albany Capitals 1990-1991 None
Arizona Condors 1990 None
Atlanta Ruckus 1995-1996 None
Boston Bolts 1990 None
California Emperors 1990 None
Colorado Foxes 1990-1996 1992-1993
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 1990-1994 None
Los Angeles Heat 1990 None
Los Angeles Salsa 1993-1994 None
Maryland Bays 1990-1991 1990
Miami Freedom 1990-1992 None
Montreal Impact 1993-1996 1994
New Jersey Eagles 1990 None
New Mexico Chiles 1990 None
New York Centaurs 1995 None
New York Fever 1996 None
Orlando Lions 1990 None
Penn-Jersey Spirit 1990-1991 None
Portland Timbers 1990 None
Real Santa Barbara 1990 None
Rochester Raging Rhinos 1996 None
Salt Lake Sting 1990-1991 None
San Diego Nomads 1990 None
San Francisco Bay Blackhawks 1990-1992 1991
Seattle Sounders 1994-1996 1995-1996
Seattle Storm 1990 None
Tampa Bay Rowdies 1990-1993 None
Toronto Blizzard 1993 None
Toronto Rockets 1994 None
Vancouver 86ers 1993-1996 None
Washington Diplomats 1990 None
Washington Stars 1990 None



Press Release: April 16, 1989 – Western & American Soccer Leagues Plan Merger 



The Legacy of the APSL“, Clemente Lisi,, September 18, 2015



Written by AC

April 2nd, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Posted in

Leave a Reply


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: