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1967-1977 St. Louis Stars

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St. Louis Stars NASLNational Professional Soccer League (1967)
North American Soccer League (1968-1977)

Born: 1967 – NPSL founding franchise
Moved: October 1977 (California Surf)

Stadia:

  • 1967-1968: Busch Memorial Stadium (50,000)
  • 1969-1970: Francis Field
  • 1971-1974: Busch Memorial Stadium
  • 1975-1977: Francis Field

Team Colors: Red & White with Blue Piping (1967)

Owner: Robert Hermann, et al.

NPSL Championships: None
NASL Championships: None

 

The St. Louis Stars were the first professional soccer team to make their home in the Gateway City. Relatively speaking, the Stars were a beacon of stability in the turbulent American pro soccer scene of the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Of the 22 American pro clubs that began play during the country’s 1967 pro soccer boom, only the Dallas Tornado (1967-1981) outlived the Stars.

The Stars began play as one of ten original franchises in the National Professional Soccer League. The first Stars club in 1967 consisted largely of European imports, including a large number of Yugoslavian players. The team was competitive, finishing 2nd in the NPSL’s Western Division with a 14-11-7 record. Only the two divisional champions advanced to the NPSL’s two-game championship playoff, so the Stars were left out of the postseason. St. Louis was the most popular of the league’s ten clubs at the turnstiles, attracting average crowds of 7,613 per match to the city’s Major League Baseball stadium.

After the 1967 season, the NPSL merged with its rival, the United Soccer Association, to form the North American Soccer League.  17 clubs took part in the 1968 NASL season. But league investors pulled out en masse at the end of the year, reducing the NASL to just 5 clubs for 1969. The Stars were one of the few survivors who struggled onward into the 1970’s. The team departed Busch Stadium for the cheaper, more appropriately scaled confines of Francis Field on the campus of Washington University. Attendance dipped to around 2,000 per match at the start of the new decade.

Beginning in 1969 the Stars began to focus on recruiting local St. Louis players. This was a departure from the rest of the NASL, which became known as something of a retirement home for aging Englishmen of the era. St. Louis University was a soccer powerhouse throughout the 1960’s and into the early 70’s. The Americanization approach helped the Stars earn a loyal (if still small-ish) core audience. Attendance began to rebound hitting a new high of 7,773 per match in 1972. The Stars also reached the NASL final for the only time in 1972, losing 2-1 to the New York Cosmos.

The team reached peak Americanization in 1974 when the entire roster consisted of U.S. citizens with the exception of English player-coach John Sewell. In 1975, the team would gradually begin to add more foreign players, including Peter Bonetti, the reserve goalkeeper on England’s 1966 World Cup champion team. But the bulk of the Stars roster would always remain American.

The club continued to bounce back and forth from Busch Stadium to Francis Field throughout the 1970’s. Attendance peaked at 9,794 per match in 1977. But this proved to be the team’s last season in St. Louis. The club moved to Anaheim, California in October 1977.

College soccer’s Hermann Trophy, awarded annually to the nation’s best male and female players, is named in honor of Stars founder and long-time patron Robert Hermann.

 

St. Louis Stars Shop

Rock n’ Roll Soccer: The Short Life & Fast Times of the North American Soccer League by Ian Plenderleith

 

St. Louis Stars Memorabilia

 

Stars Video

 

Links

National Professional Soccer League Media Guides

National Professional Soccer League Programs

North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs

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