Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Downing Stadium’ tag

1980-1981 New York United

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New York United ProgramAmerican Soccer League (1980-1981)

Born: 1980 – The New York Apollo are re-branded as New York United
Folded: Postseason 1981


Team Colors:


ASL Championships: None


New York United were a men’s 2nd Division soccer club that played in the American Soccer League in 1980 and 1981.  The club previously played in Long Island from 1973 until 1979 where it was known as New York Apollo.  New ownership bought the team in 1980 and tried to make a splash by signing former Manchester City star Rodney Marsh as Manager and moving into Shea Stadium in Queens.

United was successful on the field in 1980, posting a 17-11 mark and making the ASL playoffs.  This despite the fact that Marsh resigned midway through the season in a dispute with management. United fell to the Pennsylvania Stoners in the semi-final round.

At the box office though, the team was a bust. Tiny crowds at Shea led the team to cut costs and move into run-down Downing Stadium on Randall’s Island for the 1981 season.  Marsh left the team to coach the rival Carolina Lightnin’.  The team re-organized under new coach Jimmy McGeough, who had previously managed the team during the Apollo era.  Under McGeough, United posted a league best 19-5-4 record in 1981.  That should have earned United home field attendance for the playoffs.  But the team’s dismal fan support in New York led the ASL to move the September 18th, 1981 championship match to American League Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, home of Marsh’s Carolina Lightnin’.

Before a league-record crowd of 20,163, United’s Solomon Hilton gave the visitors a 1-0 lead in the 64th minute.  But Carolina equalized in the 69th minute and the Lightnin’ snatched the game away in the 2nd overtime period to seal the ASL crown.  This turned out to be the final match that United every played as the club folded during the offseason that followed. The ASL went out of business two years later following the 1983 season.


New York United Shop

American Soccer League Logo T-Shirt by Ultras

Shea Stadium Retro T-Shirt by Throwback Max


New York United Memorabilia



1980 New York United Media Guide

May 13, 1980 New York United Press Release – “United to Open at Shea on Sunday!”

August 10, 1980 New York United vs. National Team of Ecuador Program

October 1980 New York United Central American Tour Press Releases



American Soccer League Media Guides

American Soccer League Programs


Written by AC

November 15th, 2015 at 6:11 pm

1971-1985 New York Cosmos

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New York Cosmos YearbookNorth American Soccer League (1971-1984)
Major Indoor Soccer League (1984-1985)

Born: December 10, 1970 – NASL expansion franchise.
Folded: Summer 1985.



Team Colors:

  • 1974: Green, Yellow & Blue
  • 1977: Green & White


  • 1971-1984: Warner Communications (Steve Ross, et al.)
  • 1984-1985: Giorgio Chinaglia, et al.

Soccer Bowl Champions: 1977, 1978, 1980 & 1982


Text coming soon…



New York Cosmos Memorabilia



New York Cosmos Video

Trailer for Once In A Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos



In Memoriam

Former Cosmos head coach Hennes Weisweiler, who managed the club from 1980-1982, passed away on July 5, 1983.  He was 63.

Cosmos founder/owner & Warner Communications CEO Steve Ross passed away on December 20, 1992 from prostate cancer at 65.

Julio Mazzei, who helped bring Pele to America in 1975 and later coached the Cosmos in the 1980’s, died on May 10, 2009 at age 78.

Ex-Cosmos player/owner Giorgio Chinaglia, the NASL’s all-time leading scorer, died on April 1, 2012 at age 65.




1973 New York Cosmos Season Ticket Brochure

June 1978 New York Cosmos Travel Itinerary – Minnesota

March 25, 1979 Cosmos vs. Estudiantes Tecos Game Program

June 11, 1979 – Cosmos Sign Dutch Star Johan Neeskens Press Release

August 31, 1980 – Pele to Don #10 Again in Beckenbauer Farewell Press Release

1982 New York Cosmos Soccer Bowl Press Kit

November 20, 1983 Cosmos Sign Dan Canter Press Release



North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs

Major Indoor Soccer League Media Guides

Major Indoor Soccer 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 17, 1974 – New York Stars vs. Birmingham Americans


New York Stars vs. Birmingham Americans
July 17, 1974
Downing Stadium
Attendance: 17,943

World Football League Programs
40 pages


The upstart World Football League (1974-1975) made its debut in the Big Apple in Week 2 of the league’s inaugural season of 1974.  WFL founder and Commissioner Gary Davidson, pictured on the program cover with an early blue & yellow prototype of a WFL football, hoped that his league would become a formidable rival to the NFL, much as the AFL was in the 1960’s.  Another model was the World Hockey Association (1972-1979), co-founded by Davidson in 1971, which had already become a thorn in the side of the National Hockey League by challenging the established circuit for top free agents and expansion markets.

To be relevant, Davidson needed the WFL to work in major media markets like New York City.  But the New York Stars, a franchise given away for free by Davidson to one of his World Hockey Association connections, Robert Schmertz, turned out to be one of the WFL’s biggest misfires.

For starters, the team played in dumpy Downing Stadium on Randall’s Island, with its horrid lighting, disgusting locker rooms, chewed up field (also used for soccer that summer by the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League), and inaccessible location.  Then there was the roster, which was largely anonymous, save for the presence of defensive end Gerry Philbin and wide receiver George Sauer, who were beloved New York Jets stars of the AFL era and veterans of that team’s historic Super Bowl III victory over the Baltimore Colts.  That wasn’t enough to sizzle to sell out the Stars’ home opener though, as fewer than 20,000 curiosity seekers turned out.

The game turned out to be a dark foreshadowing of the Stars’ cursed existence in New York.  The Stars racked up a 29-3 halftime lead on the strength of three rushing touchdowns.  Then they managed to blow said 26-point lead in the second half, allowing Birmingham Americans quarterback George Mira to throw for three touchdowns and run for a fourth.  Still, the Stars had a chance to tie in the waning seconds, but German-born placekicker Pete Rajecki – the “Bootin’ Teuton” – blew a 35-yard field goal with 36 seconds remaining.

The Stars lost the game and dropped to 0-2.  They would play only five more games in New York City before Robert Schmertz ran out of money and dumped the team two months later.  The Stars played their final game at Downing Stadium on September 24, 1974 and then were abruptly shifted to North Carolina to finish out the 1974 schedule as the Charlotte Hornets.  The World Football league itself folded one year later in October 1975.



July 17, 1974 New York Stars Roster

July 17, 1974 New York Stars vs. Birmingham Americans Official Stats Sheets

July 17, 1974 New York Stars Pre-Game Ceremonies Timing Sheet


Written by AC

October 22nd, 2013 at 2:09 pm


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