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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

 

Downloads

April 3, 1968 San Diego Toros Roster

 

Links

North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs

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