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1984-1988 Minnesota Strikers

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Minnesota StrikersNorth American Soccer League (1984)
Major Indoor Soccer League (1984-1988)

Born: November 30, 1983 – Ft. Lauderdale Strikers relocate to Minnesota
Folded: June 22, 1988

Stadium: The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (62,220)

Arena: The Met Center (15,184)

Owners: Joe & Elizabeth Robbie

Soccer Bowl Championships: None
MISL Championships: None

 

The Fort Lauderdale Strikers (1977-1983) of the North American Soccer League moved to Minneapolis in December 1983. Strikers owner Elizabeth Robbie wanted a city with a suitable building for indoor soccer and hoping to rekindle the tremendous fan support generated by the NASL’s Minnesota Kicks (1976-1981) during the late 1970’s. The Robbie family had deep pockets – patriarch Joe Robbie also owned the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

The Kicks averaged over 30,000 fans per match in 1977, making the club one of the most popular in the history of American professional soccer.  But that was at the old outdoor Metropolitan Stadium, which closed in 1981 shortly after the Kicks went out of business.  The Strikers would play their “outdoor” soccer indoors, in the much maligned Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.  The Strikers drew an average of 14,263 for twelve outdoor (ahem) matches in the summer of 1984. That was the second best figure in the floundering NASL, but a far cry from the glory years of the Kicks.

Tino Lettieri Minnesota StrikersIn August 1984, the Strikers accepted an invitation to switch to the Major Indoor Soccer League, along with the three other NASL clubs.  The NASL folded a few months later.  The Strikers were now an indoor soccer-only club and they would play in the wintertime at The Met Center, home of the NHL’s Minnesota North Stars.

The Strikers high point came in the spring of 1986, when the club made a run to the MISL championship series.  A bandwagon formed during the team’s playoff run, and the team briefly became a hot ticket in Minneapolis, packing large crowds into the Met Center during the postseason.  The Strikers ultimately lost the championship series to the MISL’s dynasty club, the San Diego Sockers.

Indoor soccer really never drew in Minnesota. The Strikers lasted in the MISL for four seasons, but the team was perennially among the league’s worst box office performers.  The Robbies publicly considered folding the club on several occasions. They finally did so in June of 1988.

Much of the Strikers’ national publicity during their Minnesota years came thanks to eccentric goalkeeper and bird enthusiast Tino Lettieri.  Lettieri, who played for the Kicks from 1977 to 1981, owned quite a few real parrots. But he was best known for “Ozzie” (pictured with Tino above left). Lettieri kept the stuffed toy parrot he kept tucked inside his goal during games, first outdoors in the NASL and later indoors in the MISL.  The tradition continued until 1985, when an otherwise entirely forgettable MISL Commissioner named Francis Dale earned the league national headlines by banning Ozzie from the league’s nets.

 

Minnesota Strikers Shop

Minnesota Strikers Retro T-Shirt by Throwback Max


The Met Center Retro T-Shirt by Throwback Max

Minnesota Strikers Memorabilia

 

Strikers Video

Strikers vs. San Diego Sockers. 1986 MISL Championship Series

 

In Memoriam

Joe Robbie passed away on January 7, 1990 at the age of 73.

Elizabeth Robbie passed a year after her husband in November 1991.

English defender Barry Wallace, who played from the Strikers from 1984 to 1985, passed away of cancer at age 47 in 2006.

 

Downloads

1984 Minnesota Strikers NASL Results & Attendance

1987-88 MISL Rule Book & Schedule

 

Links

Major Indoor Soccer League Media Guides

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs

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