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1978-1981 New York Eagles

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1978 New York Eagles ProgramAmerican Soccer League (1978-1979 & 1981)

Born: 1978 – ASL expansion franchise.
Folded: Postseason 1981

Stadiums:

Team Colors:

Owner: Prenk Curanaj

ASL Championships: None

 

The New York Eagles were a nomadic/sporadic entry in the lower-division American Soccer League (1933-1983) between 1978 and 1981 until years of bad debts and bounced checks finally sunk the club.

The franchise started out as an expansion franchise based out of Mt. Vernon, New York in 1978.  The club drew poorly, as you might imagine from the team’s forlorn advertising brochure (at left), showcasing the empty, rundown grandstand at Memorial Field in all its grainy, black-and-white decrepitude.  That, and the club had to compete with the glitzy New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League for metropolitan NYC-area soccer fans.  An unfair fight if there ever was one.  The club’s lone recognizable name in Mt. Vernon was Peruvian World Cup veteran Ramon Mifflin, a former Cosmos from 1975 to 1977.  The club’s announced 1978 attendance of 1,288 per match was 9th among the ASL’s 10 clubs.

In November 1978 the Eagles announced a move to Albany’s Bleecker Stadium for the 1979 season.  Unpaid bills followed the club from Mt. Vernon. Eagles President Prenk Curanaj wrote several bad checks to Albany businesses shortly after arriving in town, which quickly soured the locals on their new team.  One of the bad checks went to the team’s advertising agency, who quite reasonably mothballed all of the promotion intended to introduce the club to Capital District fans.  Unpaid judgments to 1978 creditors nearly sank the Eagles on the eve of their Bleecker Stadium debut against the Pennsylvania Stoners on April 14, 1979, but Curanaj managed to buy time and get the season underway.

The 1979 Eagles were competitive on the field at 14-7-7 but was bounced in the first round of the playoffs.  The roster was heavy on Yugoslavs under the direction of a Yugoslav Head Coach, Gjelosh Nikac.   The best of the bunch was Billy Boljevic, a prolific scorer everywhere he played in the United States who never quite managed to break out of the obscurity of lower division and indoor soccer.  In 1981, Boljevic would lead the Eagles and the ASL with 25 goals in 26 matches en route to league MVP honors.

The Eagles chronic financial troubles forced the team to shut down after the 1979 season.  Surprisingly, the club returned to Bleecker Stadium and the ASL in the spring of 1981, once again under Curanaj’s management.  The same old problems cropped up again. The IRS showed up during an August 21, 1981 Eagles match at Bleecker.  The feds seized the night’s game receipts to settle liens for unpaid income and social security taxes.

The Eagles folded at the end of the 1981 season.  Oddly – according to Dave Litterer and his American Soccer History Archive site – the other owners of the ASL then decided to appoint Prenk Curanaj as their Chairman of the Board. This despite the fact that he had shut down his club (twice), had public and persistent problems paying his bills and no longer owned a franchise in their league.

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The American Soccer League played two more seasons and then shutdown in late 1983.

Pro soccer returned to Albany and Bleecker Stadium in 1988 with the arrival of the Albany Capitals, who played in a new and different American Soccer League.  The Capitals lasted four seasons from 1988 to 1991.

 

New York Eagles Shop


American Soccer League Logo T-Shirt by Ultras

 

New York Eagles Memorabilia

 

Downloads

1978 American Soccer League Attendance Report

 

Links

American Soccer League Media Guides

American Soccer League Programs

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Written by AC

January 13th, 2013 at 10:23 pm

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