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1986-1990 San Diego Nomads

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San Diego Nomads Media GuideWestern Soccer Alliance (1986-1988)
Western Soccer League (1989)
American Professional Soccer League (1990)

Born: 1986 – Western Soccer Alliance expansion franchise.
Died: Postseason 1990 – The Nomads drop to amateur/youth club status.


Team Colors: White, Blue & Red



The San Diego Nomads were a low-budget semi-pro/pro soccer club that competed during the late 1980’s, a period viewed as the Dark Ages for outdoor professional soccer in the United States.  After the demise of the North American Soccer League in 1984 there was no nationwide pro league in the country for the remainder of the decade.  The best players toiled indoors in the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL), which was dominated by foreign players.

The city of San Diego happened to host the finest indoor team of the era.  The Sockers (1978-1996) were a former outdoor side turned indoor dynasty and they employed the highest paid soccer player in the United States at the end of the 1980’s – the Yugoslav striker Branko Segota, who earned $102,000 during the 1989-90 MISL season.

The Nomads entered the Western Soccer Alliance (1985-1988) quietly in the spring of 1986.  For the next four summers, the Nomads would compete as a semi-pro side.  U.S. National Team players like Marcelo Balboa and Paul Caligiuri played alongside high school players and moonlighting Sockers players such as Paul Dougherty and Paul Wright.

San Diego NomadsIn 1989, the Nomads won the Western Soccer League title with a semi-pro roster.  The victory earned them a meeting with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the East Coast-based American Soccer League to crown the so-called National Pro Soccer Champion.  The Strikers were a fully professional side, featuring many veterans of the old NASL.  The Nomads had three 17-year old high school players on the team and were missing five regular players for the title match due to NCAA commitments.  The Nomads took an early 1-0 lead, but ultimately were no match for the veteran Strikers and lost 3-1.  The match drew an impressive (for the era) 8,600 fans in the neutral site of San Jose’s Spartan Stadium on September 9th, 1989.

In 1990 the Western Soccer League merged with the American Soccer League to former the American Professional Soccer League (APSL).  Although teams continued to play a regional schedule, it was a baby step to the restoration of a fully professional league with a nationwide footprint.  The Nomads committed to field a pro side for the first time in 1990.  At the same time, the club shifted its home games from Balboa Stadium in San Diego to the campus of Southwestern College in Chula Vista.

The move to Chula Vista was a bust at the box office and the Nomads withdrew from professional play after the 1990 APSL season.  Like many lower-division American clubs of the 1990’s and 2000’s, the Nomads came to realize their real business was running academy programs at the youth level.  The Nomads still exist today as an academy program ( and still use the same logo from their adult semi-pro/pro sides of a quarter century ago.


==San Diego Nomads Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other


1988 6/19/1988 vs. F.C. Seattle Storm ?? Program


1989 4/23/1989 vs. L.A. Heat L 2-1 (PKs) Program
1989 7/23/1989 vs. Portland Timbers W 1-0 (PKs) Program
1989 9/9/1989 Fort Lauderdale Strikers L 3-1 Program


1990 4/7/1990 @ San Francisco Bay Blackhawks ?? Program
1990 8/4/1990 vs. California Emperors ?? Program



American Professional Soccer League Media Guides

American Professional Soccer League Programs



1968 San Diego Toros

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San Diego TorosNorth American Soccer League (1968)

Born: 1968 – The Los Angeles Toros relocate to San Diego
Folded: Postseason 1968

Stadium: Balboa Stadium (33,000)

Team Colors: Yale Blue & White

Owners: William Cox, Julian Kaufman & Albert Fernandez

NASL Championships: None


The son of a former San Diego Toros player bought this rare soccer program from us this weekend.  You don’t see too much material from the Toros, so I figured I ought to write it up before it was gone for good.

This match between the Toros and visiting Boston Beacons on April 3, 1968 was just the fifth game in the history of the North American Soccer League (1968-1984), which had kicked off its debut season four days earlier.  The NASL was formed out of the merger of two competing pro leagues that launched in 1967, hoping to capitalize on signs of interest from Americans in the 1966 World Cup.  17 clubs from the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) and its former rival, the United Soccer Association (USA) joined to form the new NASL in 1968.  The league boasted wealthy high-powered owners such as American Football League founder Lamar Hunt (Dallas Tornado) and Los Angeles Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke (Los Angeles Wolves)

The Toros formed in 1966 as the Los Angeles Toros, owned by Los Angeles Rams owner Dan Reeves.  Reeves lost interest after one season.  The club joined the NASL in the 1968 merger and moved south to San Diego’s Balboa Stadium.

William Cox headed the new ownership group in San Diego. Cox was an interesting figure.  A Yale grad, he bought the floundering Philadelphia Phillies in 1943.  At the age of 33, he became the youngest owner in Major League Baseball at the time.  He lasted less than a year before getting ensnared in a gambling scandal.  Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned Cox from professional baseball in 1943.  He was the last person banned for life from the game until Pete Rose in 1989.  Cox later founded the International Soccer League (ISL) in 1960 which experienced some success importing European and South American clubs into the Eastern United States in the early 1960’s before the USSFA, soccer’s governing body in the United States, conspired to drive Cox out of business in 1965.

The Toros had a distinct Latin/South American bent to their roster.  The Toros signed Vava, the brilliant Brazilian striker, who scored in both the 1958 and 1962 World Cup finals en route to Brazilian victories.  But the club’s top scorer turned out to be a Uruguayan, Cirilo Fernandez, who tied for the NASL lead in goal scoring with 30 goals in 29 matches.  Ataulfo Sanchez of Argentina was the league’s stingiest goalkeeper, with a 0.93 goals against average.

The Balboa Stadium crowd of 1,817 was a bad sign though.  Both clubs averaged less than 5,000 fans per game and folded at the end of the 1968 season.


The NASL returned to San Diego twice, first with the San Diego Jaws in 1976 and again with the San Diego Sockers in 1978.


San Diego Toros Memorabilia



April 3, 1968 San Diego Toros Roster



North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs



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